cruciferous vegetables

Must Know Facts: Hypothyroid and Cruciferous Veggies

As at thyroid coach and advocate, it pains me when I read mis-information about thyroid health, in particularly when it comes to nutrition and healing. I often read about the “benefits” of iodine supplementation and the “dangers” of eating cruciferous vegetables  – both matters needing clarification and guidance when healing naturally, especially since each person has their own bio-individual needs.

Many people don’t realize that too much iodine can actually contribute to thyroid imbalance and not eating nutritious cruciferous veggies is just plain crazy! Let’s talk about cruciferous veggies for a moment…we are talking about delicious whole foods like:

  • Bok choy
  • Broccoli
  • Brussels sprouts
  • Cabbage
  • Cauliflower
  • Collard greens
  • Daikon radish
  • Kale
  • Kohlrabi
  • Mustard greens

You also may not realize that mustard, including spicy brown and yellow mustard, along with horseradish are also “cruciferous”, but they sure are! the glucosinolates packed in the seeds are just as powerful as the mustard and horseradish greens and these are some nutrient dense foods to be skimping from your diet!

These anti-cancer, anti-inflammatory foods actually help to blast free radical damage and are jam-packed with antioxidant goodness.  In fact, this is a group of plant-powered goodness that ranks high in vitamin A, C, folic acid, phytonutrients, carotenoids, fiber and protein! Yes, protein. From plants. 

Plant powered foods provide a large majority of the protein we need in our diet, and just 3 cups of cruciferous vegetables can contribute more than 25% of our daily protein needs. Think about this:  1/2 a head of steamed broccoli will provide you with 20 grams of protein…kinda awesome considering the super low caloric intake and high nutrient content.

So what’s the deal? What’s all the buzz about avoiding cruciferous veggies? It’s because of something called GOITROGENS. But what exactly is a goitrogen anyway and how does it affect your thyroid health? For starters, a “goitrogen” is any substance that can enlarge the thyroid gland. These are substances that indirectly can suppress the function by interfering with how efficiently the body uptakes iodine (a crucial component to thyroid health).

Without the proper amount of iodine, the thyroid won’t product proper amounts of thyroid hormone. And when that happens, the pituitary gland  blasts the message to the thyroid to beaf up in size and make more thyroid hormone – which can over a long period of time, cause a goiter.

A common cause of an enlarged thyroid (or goiter) is a long term mineral deficiency from lack of iodine-containing foods or impaired mineral and nutrient absorption due to poor diet. Selenium, iodine, zinc, D3 are just a few of the much needed components for a healthy thyroid. Goitrogens are certainly NOT the sole cause, its more about a total diet evaluation that needs to take place (and supplements are NOT a replacement for a total dietary reboot). It starts with food and food synergy.

It starts with what is on your plate.

It’s good to know that the enzymes that form the goitrogenic qualities in plants can be destroyed by heat, so simply steaming or cooking these foods eliminates any worry.  But even consuming these raw, when consumed with a mineral rich balanced diet, on average they won’t harm you. You would have to consume super-human amounts to have a serious affect on a healthy thyroid. Dr. Joel Furman seems to agree with me.

Now, if you are currently dealing with a thyroid issue, doing everything possible to heal your body is always a great place to start. If you are hypothyroid, avoiding large quantities of raw cruciferous veggies can be helpful when combined with a total dietary reboot. But remember these foods are loaded with nutrients! So don’t cut them out of your diet completely. Simply heat them up.

Never forget that your thyroid is an extension of your entire endocrine system, so ignoring the possible cause or related conditions and simply medicating is a disservice to your body! If you suffer from a thyriod imbalance it is likely due to years of a diet that is not serving you – cutting out nutrient dense foods like cruciferous veggies and slamming down iodine supplements is also not the answer!

Your thyroid health is interactive with your digestive system, how well you eliminate toxins, your toxic load, mineral balance as well as how much stress you are facing on the daily.  Because thyroid imbalance is most commonly rooted in a dietary needs or deficiency in your body, when it comes to thyroid health – its starts with food. It starts with what you are eating every day and how well your body is utilizing what you give it.  

If you are looking for more guidance on this subject, my Thyroid Makeover eCourse is an in depth eCourse where we cover soup to nuts all you need to know to boost your thyroid, balance your hormones and thrive. We eliminate the confusion that so often comes with thyroid health and focus on a total reboot of the diet and the body. We aren’t accepting new enrollments until this Spring, but stay connected HERE to be notified about Early Bird announcements and extras.