Goitrogenous foods & Cruciferous vegetables- will they help your hyperthyroidism?
Many patients suffering with thyroid problems believe that eating the right foods or avoiding the wrong ones will bring them cure. But is that true?
Let me tell you a secret: no matter how much broccoli you will eat the next 24 hours it will not cure your hyperthyroidism overnight! But truth to be told, maintaining a proper diet in a long-term run can cut a lot of your symptoms, can help your immune system, and also can adjust the levels of the overactive thyroid gland. Basically, it will improve in a natural way the performance of your thyroid! That’s for sure!
The question about goitrogenous foods and cruciferous vegetables, if they are helpful for hyperthyroidism or not, is still debatable all over Internet. And I just hate when doctors say: “Your diet has nothing to do with your disease, you can eat everything and as much as you want”. Really? Because junk food is not a healthy food! And some scientific research has indeed shown that goitrogenic vegetables affect your thyroid gland and thyroid hormones: it was found for example that “after chronic radish feeding, increased weight of thyroid gland, decreased thyroid peroxidase activity, reduced thyroid hormone profiles and elevated level of thyrotropin were observed resembling a relative state of hypoactive thyroid gland in comparison to control even after supplementation of adequate iodine.”
Chandra AK, Mukhopadhyay S, Ghosh D, Tripathy S. Effect of radish (Raphanus sativus Linn.) on thyroid status under conditions of varying iodine intake in rats. Indian J Exp Biol. 2006 Aug; 44(8):653-61. PubMed PMID: 16924836
The role of goitrogens is to “inhibit naturally the excessive thyroid hormone” and to help the adjustment of the thyroid hormone levels in the blood stream. My personal experience and research in the past 11 years show that yes, goitrogens are good for us! Let me tell you how and why!
Food is very powerful- it can make you sick, or it can nourish you, we all know that. People say that “you are what you eat” and I can not agree more with that statement! As Hippocrates said:
“Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.”
So let’s go back and find out what food can act as medication and why!
Goitrogens are foods that act very much like the most popular anti-thyroid medication (PTU or Methimazole let’s say). They have two major substances that appear to affect the thyroid function. These substances are called isoflavones and isothiocyanates and apparently, they reduce thyroid function by blocking the thyroid peroxidase hormone, thus, naturally decrease the thyroid hormone overproduction.
Isoflavones are typically found in their highest quantities in legumes and especially soy products, including tofu and soy milk. The chemical structure of isoflavones is very similar to that of estrogen, and they also have antioxidant properties. However, soy and soy products are not generally recommended for hyperthyroidism diet, as they could be genetically modified, and may cause more harm then benefit.
Isothiocyanates, on the other side, can be found in the so called “cruciferous vegetables”. Cruciferous vegetables (or Brassica vegetables) are also called “crucifiers”. Isothiocyanates are derived from the breakdown of glucosinolates—sulfur-containing compounds found in cruciferous vegetables like kale, broccoli, and cabbage. They also contain Vitamin C, folates, selenium, potassium, carotenoids, chlorophyll, fiber, flavonoids etc., to name just a few of their useful substances.
26 Cruciferous vegetables & goitrogenic foods, recommended for hyperthyroidism
The following is a list of some vegetables and fruits, considered helpful for hyperthyroidism:
- Brussel sprouts
- Mustard greens
- Garden cress
- Water cress
- Bok choy
- African Cassava
- Sprouts of any kind (useful due to other reasons)
*** Those are found to have the highest goitrins among all, all in raw condition. Rutabaga will lose its properties if cooked.
How to cook goitrogens and cruciferous vegetables?
Needless to say- don’t, whenever you can! Better consume all of them raw, instead of cooked. Although research studies are limited in this area, cooking does appear to help inactivate the goitrogenic compounds found in the above vegetables. Both isoflavones (found in legumes) and isothiocyanates (found in cruciferous vegetables) appear to be heat-sensitive, and cooking appears to lower the availability of these substances. No surprise, right?
In the case with isothiocyanates in cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, as much as 1/3 of this goitrogenic substance may be deactivated when broccoli is boiled in water. The same pertains to all other leafy vegetables.
My goitrogenic salad
I personally prefer to use the leafy vegetables in a salad and the greener they are, the better. I also like to follow the rule of 7: when I make my salad for the day, I try to use at least 7 vegetables in it. This is an example of what you can include in your salad:
1 leaf of kale (finely chopped for better digestion)
1 small cucumber
Carrots (preferably shredded)
Some red peppers/ or orrange (for color);
Cauliflower- a few florets;
Spinach- as much as you want;
Broccoli- a few small florets
As per the dressing, the only things I use are extra virgin olive oil, lemon juice and salt (and occasionally black pepper for flavor). Instead of caring bottles with the above, I will put the dressing at the bottom of a jar, then arrange the vegetables on the top. When ready to eat, just turn the jar upside down, shake it well and your salad is ready! I assure you that it’s not so complicated as you may think! Also, you can prepare a few salad jars at a time and keep them refrigerated, ready to go. The jar lid will keep them fresh for a few days.
I know that some of vegetable names above sound really “exotic”, but when I googled them to see how they look like, or I just went to the local food store, I thought: “yes, here they are, I just didn’t know the names, or how on earth they are cooked (or not!)”.
The purpose of using the above food products is also to cure your mindless eating and mindless shopping and to improve the disbiosis of the digestive system (a condition where the bad bacteria in the gut outnumbers the good bacteria). The standard American diet, sadly, is high in sugar and sodium, full of preservatives, high in fat and preservatives, and loaded with hormones in meat, eggs and fish. No surprise why it leads very often to leaky gut syndrome and intestinal permeability, which is one of reasons for the impaired immune system.
Consuming goitrogenic foods and vegetables will not only affect the thyroid levels, but will lead to healthier digestive system, which is one of the prerequisites for healthy auto-immune system. My other personal recommendation is also to avoid fast food, over- processed food and to include in your diet as much raw food as possible. The reason is that the raw vegetables and fruits contain a lot of vitamins and minerals which helps our immune system to recover, especially if you have condition like Graves’ Disease.
More research on the subject, a lot of recipes of these products what foods also to avoid are included in one of my books: “Ultimate Diet Secrets for Graves’ Disease and Hyperthyroidism”. Enjoy and Happy eating!