A few blogs back I wrote about the confusion around cruciferous veggies being harmful to the thyroid. Many people avoid these tasty vegetables because they believe they may reduce the function of the thyroid. I would encourage you to learn a little more on why you should question these claims here.
That being said, what about foods that are just straight up beneficial for the thyroid? They do exist, and they may not be what you think.
The thyroid requires a few key nutrients to function at its best. These include:
Iodine (This nutrient is also controversial, more on this in an upcoming post)
The above nutrients support the thyroid with various important metabolic functions. I will be delving deeper into the action of each specific nutrient in an upcoming post. Until then, here is a list of my top 5 favorite foods for the thyroid that contain these super nutrients.
1. Brazil Nuts
These nuts are an abundant source of dietary selenium. This nutrient is important for individuals with Hashimotos (the most common autoimmune thyroid condition) as it may help to reduce the autoimmune response. Selenium also aids in general thyroid function because it involved in the production of thyroid hormones. Brazil nuts are commonly found in the bulk section of grocery stores, or are easily found packaged at many health food stores. They are pretty tasty on their own, but are also a great addition to trail mixes. Consuming 2-3 brazil nuts per day can help to boost your selenium levels.
2. Pumpkin Seeds
Pumpkin seeds are chock full of zinc, an important nutrient not only for your thyroid but also for your hair and immune system! In fact, hair loss associated with thyroid disease may not fully improve despite being on thyroid medication until zinc is adequately provided in the body. I love raw pumpkin seeds on their own, or putting pumpkin seed butter on my gluten free toast in the morning. These small seeds are also tasty in a trail mix.
Seaweeds, also known as sea vegetables, contain abundant iodine- a nutrient that is crucial for the thyroid to produce thyroid hormones. There is a caveat to this food- if you know you have high levels of thyroid antibodies, iodine may be better avoided until your antibodies are significantly reduced and your stress is under control. This is because iodine can sometimes increase the autoimmune response if it is still in high gear. If you don’t have autoimmune thyroid disease (if you don’t know get your thyroid antibodies tested!) OR, if your antibodies are on the lower end, sea veggies are a thyroid super food! They are great added to soups, stews or in salads.
4. Carbohydrate Rich Root Vegetables: Sweet Potatoes, Beets, Turnips etc.
This group is important as carbohydrates often don’t get enough attention, especially if someone is trying to lose weight. Don’t get me wrong- Carbohydrate restriction and “low carb diets” can be beneficial in weight loss. However if one has hypothyroid, at least 80g a day of carbohydrates are required for adequate thyroid function, and this number may be higher if the individual is very physically active. Gluten free whole grains can also be a good source of carbohydrates however some people with autoimmune thyroid disease benefit from a reduction of grains in their diet. Grains that do contain gluten should be avoided in individuals with autoimmune thyroid disease as they may increase the autoimmune response. More on gluten and the thyroid later ☺ Until then, roasting root veggies or making some soups are stews with them are a great way to incorporate them into your diet.
Not only is spirulina a great source of protein, it contains a high amount of iron in a tiny little serving. Iron is also necessary for the production of thyroid hormones, as well as the production of strong and healthy hair, skin and nails. Spirulina is a blue-green algae, a freshwater plant that is naturally found in many parts of the world including Mexico and Hawaii. Today it is cultured and is a well-known super-food. This plant is also a powerful detoxifier, and one of the few foods that has been proven to help detox heavy metals from the body. Spirulina can be added to smoothies or juices but be warned- it will turn your beverage dark green! If you choose to use spirulina in your diet, it is important to find a good source of spirulina. Look for companies that test for heavy metals or culture spirulina in a closed water system. As these algae are known to absorb heavy metals, you don’t want to be in taking spirulina that has already absorbed heavy metals from the water it was grown in!
I know changing your diet and lifestyle for the better can be difficult to say the least. This is why I created the Thyroid Truths Grocery List- my top non-negotiable food items when eating to improve thyroid health. It's also perfect to print and keep on the fridge! Download it here :)
What foods have you found helpful for your thyroid?
How do you incorporate some of the above foods into your daily diet? I would love to hear from you-leave your comments below.
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