How Do Vegetable Oils Affect Testosterone?

Written by Ben Bunting: BA, PGCert. (Sport & Exercise Nutrition) // British Army Physical Training Instructor // S&C Coach.


To optimize the male hormones, you must support testosterone in your body from every angle. You need to be active and exercise, but you also need to pay attention to what you are eating. 

If you make the right lifestyle and diet choices, your testosterone will skyrocket. If you make the wrong decisions, your body will be weakened and weaker as well as gaining more belly fat. 

Vegetable oil is one food which has been increasing in popularity across the West. 

What are the effects on testosterone of eating this particular food? Can it help or harm your hormones? 

Vegetable oil is a type of plant oil

Plant oils are commonly referred to as vegetable oil when they're liquid. 

Vegetable oils come in many different forms, the most popular being rapeseed, palm, peanuts, soybeans, olives, and safflower. 

The oil is not derived from actual plants, but from seeds. 

In order to extract the oil from these seeds, the seeds are pressed under high pressure to remove the oil and fiber. Hexane is also used to increase the amount of oil that can be extracted. 

The oils are then deodorized and bleached to create a "purified" product. 

The food sources are relatively new in the grand scheme of processed foods.

Vegetable oil, unlike butter and lard is produced using industrial methods that were developed at the beginning of the 20th Century. This is an entirely new method of producing such products. 

Since the introduction of the industrial production of seed oils, vegetable oil consumption in the US increased by tenfold. Commercial use also increased dramatically. 

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Nutrient value

Vegetable oil is essentially triglycerides that are extracted from seeds of different plants. They are not as nutrient dense because they come from the seeds, and not the actual plant. 

Oils are high in fat, and 100g of oil provides you with 900 calories.

Always remember that 1g of fat equates to 9kcals.  

Vegetable oils are generally characterized by: 

  • 15% saturated fat
  • Monosaturated fats (MUFAs) 25-30%
  • Polyunsaturated fat is 50-55% of the total.

The oils contain a large amount of Omega 6, a type essential fatty acids that are now present in high quantities in modern Western diets. 

Are Vegetable Oils Healthy?

Poor diet and low levels of activity are also strongly linked to obesity, chronic illnesses, and other long-term conditions. 

There have been a few studies that show we need to be concerned about excessive consumption of vegetable oil. 

Omega 6 fat levels are high and this is a health problem

Before the Industrial Revolution, omega-6 fats were almost as common in the diet as omega 3, another type of fatty acids. 

Omega 6 consumption increased as the production of vegetable oils increased. This was at the cost of omega 3. 

Omega fatty acids are 'competing' with each other for receptors, so an increased intake of omega-6 in your diet will result in a greater level within the cells.

In the 1980s the intake of omega 3 and 6 was around 4:1. Now, it is more than likely that the ratio will be 20:1. 

Increase in Chronic Inflammatory Disease

Omega 3 fat acids are powerful anti-inflammatory agents. Omega 6 is pro-inflammatory when consumed in excess. 

A high consumption of vegetable oils can lead to an array of diseases that are inflammatory. They include: 

  • Diabetes
  • Heart disease
  • Autoimmune disease
  • The gastrointestinal disease irritable bowel syndrome
  • Cancers 

According to a study in Biomedicine and Pharmacotherapy, [1], high omega-6 fat levels promote inflammation, while diets rich in omega-3 have a health-giving, suppressive effect. 

In the gym, a young man is doing cable crossovers in order to develop his chest muscles.

The key point is that excessive vegetable oil consumption increases the risk of long-term inflammation. 

Can Vegetable oil Affect Testosterone?

Omega 3 is typically found in foods that are high in the testosterone-boosting nutrient vitamin D. 

Omega 6 does not elevate testosterone levels. 

The Journal of Applied Physiology published a study [2] that found a link between testosterone and the consumption of PUFA fats. 

This study found that while total fat and saturated fat consumption helped boost T levels, higher omega-6-rich PUFA levels had the opposite impact. 

Can vegetable oil also be responsible for a decrease in the sperm count?

Most people think that vegetable oil is good for you - probably because the word "vegetable" appears in it. 

This food could be contributing to the declining male fertility in North America, Europe and other countries where sperm counts have dropped by 50-60% in the past 50 years. 

Although the decline in sperm counts is likely to be due to many different causes, there is a strong correlation between consumption of vegetable oils and fertility rates. 

High omega 6 levels decrease reproductive function

Numerous animal studies have shown that a high Omega 6/3 ratio can negatively affect reproductive tissue. 

In one of these published studies in Theriogenology, [4], it was found that an Omega 6/3 high ratio negatively correlates with the motility of sperms, their viability and normal morphology. 

Another study showed that higher sperm count was associated with an intake more evenly balanced of Omega 3 and 6 fatty acid [5]. 

PUFAs, which are found at high levels in many vegetable oils, will lower your testosterone. 


Vegetable oil consumption has grown dramatically since the Industrial Revolution. As a result, the consumption of PUFAs and Omega 6 fatty acid has also increased. 

A growing number of studies show that high omega-6 consumption is linked to inflammation and decreased testosterone. 

To optimize testosterone levels, we suggest limiting your intake of vegetable oils.

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  1. Simopoulos, AP. The importance of the ratio of omega-6/omega-3 essential fatty acids. Biomed Pharmacother. 2002; 56: 365-379
  2. Volek, J et al. Testosterone and cortisol in relationship to dietary nutrients and resistance exercise. Journal of applied physiology1997; 82(1): 49–54
  3. Levine, H et al. Temporal trends in sperm count: a systematic review and meta-regression analysis. Human Reprod Update. 2017; 1-14
  4. Am-in, N et al. Lipid profiles of sperm and seminal plasma from boars having normal or low sperm motility. Theriogenology. 2011. 15; 75(5): 897-903
  5. Yan, L et al. Effect of different dietary omega-3/omega-6 fatty acid ratios on reproduction in male rats. Lipids in Health and Disease. 2013; 12:33
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