The thyroid gland is a small, butterfly shaped gland located on the front of the neck just below the larynx. Its primary role is that of internal thermostat, effectively regulating all metabolic function in the body. Imbalances in thyroid function can cause a wide array of symptoms, including changes in weight and body temperature and enlargement of the thyroid gland (goiter).
Thyroid disease—particularly hypothyroidism, is a condition I encounter regularly in my practice as a naturopathic doctor. It is a condition that is more prevalent in the female population and is often accompanied by menstrual, gastrointestinal and/or cardiovascular complaints. While medication is often prescribed to treat thyroid imbalance, natural therapies and dietary changes can have a great impact on thyroid health as well.
Listed below are some of the best (and worst) foods for optimizing thyroid health.
BEST Foods rich in iodine
Why? Important component in all thyroid hormones and an adequate dietary intake can reverse thyroid swelling or goiter.
• Sea vegetables (kelp, dulse, nori, hiziki, kombu, wakame)
• Fish (due to their consumption of sea vegetables)
• Salt (though too much iodized table salt can lead to bloating so sea salt is best)
BEST Foods rich in tyrosine
Why? Building block for thyroid function and hormone
• Low fat cottage cheese
• Soy-based foods (soy beans, soy nuts, tofu and miso)
• Adzuki beans
• Sunflower seeds
• Raw nuts (almonds, cashews)
BEST Foods high in zinc and selenium
Why? Required minerals for optimal thyroid function
• Zinc: Chickpeas, baked beans, pumpkin seeds, tahini, almonds, wholegrain breads, peas, oysters, shellfish, poultry, red meats, fortified breakfast cereals and yeast
• Selenium: Brazil nuts, tuna, read meat, poultry, eggs, brown rice, organ meats, wheatgerm, blackstrap molasses, cashews, garlic and green vegetables.
• Organic. Nutrient-rich soils are higher in selenium and other key minerals.
WORST Goiterogenic Foods
Why? These foods can block your absorption of iodine, leading to hypothyroidism and/or goiter development
• RAW cruciferous vegetables from the Brassica family, including broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, turnips, kale, kohlrabi, cauliflower, bok choy, and rutabaga (when cooked or steamed, cruciferous vegetables loose their goiterogenic properties and are therefore safe to consume)
• Mustard seeds
• Pine nuts
Now it’s time to test your thyroid. Click to continue >