The thyroid plays a major role in many of the body’s systems and, unfortunately, thyroid tests do not always tell the full story about your thyroid health. Many people have thyroid dysfunction, despite perfectly normal test results. If you think you're having thyroid issues, be sure to consult with your doctor.
In the past, we've talked a little about how to Blast for thyroid health, but here we'll expand on the best foods you can eat to keep your thyroid in top shape.
So what nutrients should you be looking for? Iodine, selenium, zinc, copper, iron, vitamin A, B2, B3, C, and E are all power players when it comes to thyroid health.
Here is a list of some of the best sources of these vitamins and minerals.
Iodine - Primary sources: sea vegetables (kelp, dulse, hijiki, nori, arame, wakame, kombu) and seafood (salmon, sardines), as well as iodized sea salt
Secondary sources: egg yolk, asparagus, lima beans, mushrooms, spinach, summer squash, Swiss chard, garlic
Selenium - Brazil nuts, tuna, mushrooms, halibut, soybeans, sunflower seeds (Note: selenium content of land-based foods is contingent on soil substrate selenium levels.)
Zinc - Fresh sardines, turkey, split peas, whole grains, sunflower seeds, pecans, Brazil nuts, almonds, walnuts, ginger root, maple syrup
Copper - Beef, shiitake mushrooms, dark chocolate, tomato paste, pearled barley, nuts, beans (white beans, chickpeas), sunflower seeds
Iron - Clams, soybeans, pumpkin seeds, white beans, blackstrap molasses, lentils, spinach
Vitamin A - (beta-carotene form) Kale, sweet potatoes, carrots, winter squash/pumpkin, spinach, cantaloupe, broccoli, asparagus, lettuce
Vitamin B2 - (riboflavin) Brewer’s yeast, almonds, wheat germ, wild rice, mushrooms, egg yolks
Vitamin B3 - (niacin) Brewer’s yeast, rice bran, wheat bran, peanuts (with skin), poultry - white meat
Vitamin B6 - (pyroxidine) Brewer’s yeast, sunflower seeds, wheat germ, fish (tuna, salmon, trout), beans (lentils, lima beans, navy beans, garbanzos, pinto beans), walnuts, brown rice, bananas
Vitamin C - Guava, peppers (chili, Bell, sweet), kiwifruit, citrus, strawberries, broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, papaya, parsley, greens (kale, turnip, collard, mustard)
Vitamin E - Whole grains, almonds, beans, sunflower seeds, peanuts, liver, leafy green vegetables, asparagus, rice bran and wheat bran
Other foods and nutrients that help our thyroid
Algae - Algae contain most vitamins, minerals, essential fatty acids, many enzymes and other phytonutrients that aid in the immune function and detoxification of the body’s many organs. They're also rich in antioxidants and chlorophyll, which are powerful at protecting and detoxing the body’s many organs. Chlorophyll has shown an ability to make the thyroid healthier. Algae is the richest source of astaxanthin, which is the most powerful food antioxidant on the planet. It is one of nature's truly amazing super foods.
Maca - Maca root has nutrients that help balance the pituitary gland, which basically instructs the thyroid gland. This traditional South American root also has nutrients that the thyroid needs, including zinc, B-complex vitamins, iron and copper.
Omega-3 Fatty Acids - salmon, sardines, ground flax seed, walnuts and fish oil
Omega-6 Fatty Acids - most grains and vegetable oils
Gamma-Linolenic Acid - helps balance hormones, create energy, protect nerves
Black and red radish have been used by some doctors in the old Soviet Union as accepted medical treatment for hypothyroidism. Raphanin, the main sulphur part in radishes, is chiefly responsible for keeping the production of thyroxine and calcitonin (a peptide hormone) in normal balance.
Holy Basil helps modulate insulin levels and helps increase thyroid hormone production.
Gugulipid has been used to boost thyroid output. (Always seek the advice of a health professional before using herbs for any health issue.)
The ancient herb Ashawaganda is considered to be very effective at helping improve thyroid function.
Biotin is a B Vitamin that has important metabolic functions for the thyroid.
Extra virgin coconut oil is very healthy for the thyroid. It speeds up the metabolism and can help with weight loss.
Foods you should avoid if you have thyroid issues
Goitrogenic foods interfere with the thyroid's ability to make certain hormones. The thyroid in a healthy person compensates by making more hormones when they eat goitrogenic foods. However, a person with an unhealthy thyroid can’t make up the difference. Goitrogenic foods include broccoli, bok choy, cabbage, brussel sprouts, collard greens, cauliflower, kale, kohlrabi, rutabaga, soy and turnips. A chemical in soybeans mixes with iodine, blocking the absorption of iodine, which is crucial for the production of thyroxin.
Like goitrogenic foods, gluten interferes with the thyroid's ability to make certain hormones. Gluten is in wheat species in all their various forms — durum, semolina, spelt, kamut, triticale, einkorn, emmer, graham, malt, couscous, seitan, bulgur, and faro, as well as in wheat’s first cousins, rye and barley. Oats are a second cousin to wheat and may also contain gluten proteins, but generally in much lower amounts and more often as a result of cross-contamination in growing, storage or processing.
Refined and processed foods, such as hydrogenated oils (trans fats), white breads, pastries, candies, and sugary drinks. These can create resistance to insulin and an imbalance in hormone levels.
Polyunsaturated oils, including vegetables oils, are a combination of corn, soy and other vegetable oils. They are harmful to your thyroid and are also found in mayonnaise and salad dressings. Use coconut oil or olive oil instead.
Caffeine causes disruption of the thyroid and other glands.
Fried foods are usually fried in vegetable oils and have a flour-based breading that turns to blood sugar quickly.
High glycemic foods such as white sugar, white potatoes, white breads, white rice, pastries, candies, cookies, sugary drinks, etc., cause insulin resistance and have negative effect on several hormones. Aim to eat foods with a GI of 55 or a GL of 10 or less. Use this glycemic list as a tool.
If your thyroid is healthy, keep it that way by eating healthy and avoiding toxins. If you have thyroid issues, certainly avoid those foods that are harmful to the thyroid and make sure your diet is rich in a variety of nutrients with adequate protein and low in simple sugars. The thyroid may be small, but it performs an incredibly complex and important job. Always discuss health issues with your doctor.