- Traditional beliefs associate eating meat with high testosterone levels in men
- Now new research has shown that a largely vegetarian diet makes no difference to testosterone levels
- Researchers, however, emphasise that we need to distinguish between healthy and unhealthy plant-based diets
Images of burly cavemen bringing home meat may have men thinking that steaks and burgers are key to masculinity.
It's just not true: New research shows that testosterone levels in men who eat vegetable-heavy diets are similar to those in men who wolf down meat.
"We found that a plant-based diet was associated with normal testosterone levels, levels that are the same as occur in men who eat a traditional diet that includes more meat," said study co-author Dr Ranjith Ramasamy, director of reproductive urology at the University of Miami Health System.
"The old idea that men needed to consume a traditional diet with plenty of meat to have a healthy testosterone level was based on pure conjecture, not based on evidence," he said in a university news release.
All plant foods aren't healthy
Ramasamy and his colleagues analysed federal survey data from 191 men, ages 18 to 75. That data included both blood testosterone levels and details of each man's diet.
Unlike most previous studies, the researchers said they distinguished between healthy and unhealthy plant-based diets.
"You can eat a lot of soda, chips and juice, which are plant foods but aren't healthy foods," said study co-author Manish Kuchakulla, a medical student at Miami's Miller School of Medicine.
Testosterone levels below 300 nanograms per deciliter were considered a deficiency, as per American Urological Association guidelines.
According to the findings, the participants' diets ended up having little effect on testosterone levels.
Smaller carbon footprint
"Whether a man ate a traditional diet with lots of animal foods, a healthy plant-based diet, or a less healthy plant-based diet simply did not matter. We found no differences," Kuchakulla said in the release.
Plant-based diets reduce the risks of many health problems, including high blood pressure, heart disease, heart attack, stroke, and many cancers, the researchers noted.
Research has also found that plant-based diets carry a much smaller carbon footprint compared to diets with meat, helping to reduce global warming.
The findings were published recently in the World Journal of Urology.
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