In terms of performance, it’s been said that the penis has a mind of its own. Which means a good erection isn't always a guarantee.
That doesn’t mean you can’t give it some brain food. And on the flip side, certain foods and drinks can have been shown to impair male sexual performance by either directly or indirectly messing with hormone levels. The penis is dependent on testosterone to function properly, and anything that lowers the T can lower the D. The 13 foods and drink below are among the worst cockblockers.
If date night regularly includes sushi, order your appetizer wisely. A study out of Harvard School of Public Health found just a half serving of soy per day was enough to slash sperm count by 40 percent in healthy males. Large amounts of soy can drastically reduce testosterone, according to a study in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition; researchers found that men who had 120 mg of soy a day saw the decrease. Read on for more startling ways your penis is affected by certain foods—but don't miss our What Happens to Your Body When You Eat Eggs report!
White Bread and Processed Carbs
There’s a reason why “white bread” is an insult. Eating too many simple carbs can lead to weight gain, and increased body flab has been shown to raise a man’s estrogen levels and lower testosterone. According to a University of Buffalo study printed in the journal Diabetes Care, 40 percent of obese participants had lower-than-normal testosterone readings.
Too Much Booze
This is no surprise, but there’s science behind it. Alcohol desensitizes you and slows reaction time, and binge drinking can affect hormone levels. Not only do you wind up with a beer belly, but according to a report in Strength and Conditioning Journal, researchers say that guzzling the alcohol equivalent of five or more drinks appears to suppress the production of testosterone. Smaller doses (one to two drinks) appear to have little or no immediate effect on testosterone. So keep things moderate: Two drinks a day.
Whenever you’re adding the protein-rich benefits of red meat to your diet, always choose grass-fed beef. The typical farmed variety is often fed artificial hormones and antibiotics, which can cause a disruption in testosterone levels. If you love a quick burger, be sure to check out our exclusive Every McDonald's Menu Item—Ranked! list.
Water isn’t the culprit here; it’s the plastic bottle. Bisphenol A, commonly referred to as BPA, is a chemical component found in most plastic food containers and cans that’s associated with negative impacts on fertility in both men and women. A Slovenian study in the journal Fertility & Sterility found a statistically significant association between urinary BPA concentration in men and lower total sperm count, concentration and vitality. And a study out of Harvard School of Public Health found women with the highest BPA levels in the body produced 27 percent less viable eggs. Turn to these testosterone-boosting foods instead.
Could Spaghetti-O’s could be getting in the way of your O? Maybe. Canned soups and meals are notoriously high in dietary sodium (a can of Spaghetti-O’s has 1780 mg—as much as 10 bags of Doritos!), which can lead to elevated blood pressure and diminished blood flow to certain parts of the body, including the genitals.
According to a study published in the Central European Journal of Urology, researchers found that high fructose corn syrup — the dietary villain that’s attracted all the wrong kind of attention these days because it’s the main sweetener in soda — increased the risk of erectile dysfunction, because it raises cholesterol levels and damages the arteries in the penis.
When you’re buying fish, always opt for wild over farmed, which is often packed with contaminants. Analyzing 700 salmon bought in stores from Edinburgh, Scotland to Seattle, Washington, a team led by Ronald Hites, PhD, of Indiana University, found that the farmed product contained up to 8 times more PCBs—cancer-causing industrial chemicals that were banned in 1979—than the wild variety. Other chemicals found in farmed fish include dioxins from herbicides (the most famous being Agent Orange). Exposure to PCBs and dioxin has been linked to lower T levels. There's a reason we had to explain Why Tilapia is Worse Than Bacon.
Not only is microwavable popcorn one of the 8 Foods Most Likely to Cause Cancer, it’s bad for your erection as well. The culprit in both cases: The lining of the bag. Conventional microwave-popcorn bags are lined with perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), also called C8. High levels of PFOA exposure have been linked to lower testosterone levels.
Processed meats contain high levels of saturated fats and cholesterol, which clog the penile arteries, because they’re small and quickly collect plaque.
Cheese is one of the foods highest in saturated fat, which can lead to arterial blockage. And when it comes to both milk and cheese, cows are often fed artificial hormones that have been shown to cause endocrine disruption. In a University of Rochester study published in the journal Human Reproduction, men who consumed more dairy products had “significantly” less motile sperm than those who consumed less.
With it comes to refined carbs and cheese, pizza is double trouble for your erection. According to a Harvard study, it’s the second-highest contributor to saturated fat intake in America. If you want to completely kill your erection, order a Meat Lover’s Pizza (see #10) and don’t be surprised if that’s the only loving you get tonight. So put down the slice and find out pick up one of these Best Foods for Your Penis instead.
A study printed in the journal Phytotherapy Research found that spearmint can significantly reduce levels of testosterone, a hormone that plays a big role in libido. In a separate study published in the journal Urology, researchers gave one group of rats water and the others peppermint tea. Ultimately, the rats who drank the tea had lower levels of T. If you like the occasional cup of mint tea, don't swear off the stuff; just consume it in moderation.