- 25 Best Foods to Eat for Your Thyroid and Metabolism
- Brazil Nuts
- Green Tea
- Olive Oil
- Full-Fat Milk
- Whole Grains
- Kola Nut Tea
- Eat Peppers
- Red Tea
- 5 Foods That Improve Thyroid Function
- Thyroid Superfoods
- 7 Foods That Support Thyroid Health
- Thyroid Health
- Thyroid Disorders
- Hypothyroidism — an underactive thyroid that doesn’t produce enough hormones (2)
- Hyperthyroidism — an overactive thyroid that produces too many hormones (3)
- Goiter — when the gland is abnormally large (4)
- Thyroid Nodules — when a small lump is found in the gland (5)
- Thyroid Cancer — cancer cells are found in the gland (6)
- Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis — experiencing inflammation that’s reduced thyroid function (7)
- What Factors Affect Thyroid Health?
- Let’s Hear It
- Thyroid Disorders
- The 7 Best Foods for Thyroid Health
- Ask Keri: Are there specific foods I can add to my diet that promote thyroid health?
- 7 Foods for Thyroid Health
- 20 Best Foods for Your Thyroid
25 Best Foods to Eat for Your Thyroid and Metabolism
Your thyroid is an unassuming butterfly-shaped gland in your neck that secretes all-important hormones that control major bodily functions, including how you digest food and use energy. When your thyroid health isn’t in tip-top shape, everything slows down; hence the fatigue and weight gain when it does.
Tired? Stressed? Can’t lose weight? You’re not alone. In fact, you may be one of the millions of Americans suffering a chronic, undiagnosed health issue. It’s called hypothyroidism: a condition that pumps the brakes on your metabolism because the master gland—your thyroid—isn’t functioning at its prime. Many things can put you at risk for a sluggish thyroid, some of which you cannot control, like family history. Fortunately, you can control how and what you eat. And new research shows certain foods have proven potential in helping to improve thyroid health and boost the effectiveness of your metabolism.
Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath … while you may be a heavy metal fan, your thyroid? Not so much. That’s because heavy metals, mercury in particular, are chemically similar to iodine — an element the thyroid needs and readily absorbs. When metals like mercury take the place of iodine at binding sites, thyroid hormone production grinds to a halt. The good news is you can naturally detoxify with fruits that are rich in pectin — a gelatin-like fiber that sticks to toxic compounds in the blood and flushes them out of the body through the urine. In fact, citrus pectin increased mercury excretion in the urine by 150 percent within 24 hours of supplementation, according to one study in Phytotherapy Research. As a weight loss bonus, research shows pectin can limit the amount of fat your cells can absorb. You’ll need about four pieces of whole fruit daily to reap the benefits. Grapefruits, oranges and peaches are all good sources, but since most pectin is found in the fibrous pith and peel, whole apples are one of the best.
Your car runs on gasoline, and your thyroid runs on iodine. Insufficient levels of the element inhibit the production of metabolism-regulating thyroid hormones; and since your body doesn’t make it, it’s an essential part of your diet. That’s why, since 1993, the World Health Organization has supported the iodization of table salt. But because recent health headlines have called for the radical reduction of salt intake, some people don’t get enough. But you can get your daily dose without ODing on salt; there are other dietary sources of iodine, and seaweed is one of the best. Just two tablespoons of brown seaweed, or a few rolls of sushi every week will meet your need. And as you nosh on your nori you’ll be blasting fat: Scientists at Newcastle University recently discovered that a compound in seaweed called alginate can suppress the digestion of fat in the gut.
Selenium. No, it’s not Latina popstar. It’s the all essential “on” switch to proper thyroid function — converting T4 hormone into active T3. The essential mineral also protects the gland from inflammatory byproducts of thyroid hormone production. Many people who have a sluggish thyroid or thyroid diseases exhibit deficiencies in selenium, and studies show supplementation can help. Selenium supplementation of 80 micrograms per day — about what you’ll find in just one Brazil nut — helped to reduce anti-thyroid antibodies in patients with autoimmune thyroiditis (inflammation of the gland that can make it sluggish if left untreated), one study showed. As a weight-loss bonus, the nuts are rich in L-arginine, an amino acid research shows may help blast belly fat.
Shuck one for your metabolism. Heck, make it a half dozen. After all, oysters are one of the best dietary sources zinc—a mineral that’s critical, and complementary, to a healthy thyroid. In fact, the body needs enough zinc to activate production of thyroid hormone. And, in turn, we need enough thyroid hormone to absorb zinc. Any way you look at it, deficiencies are likely to result in a sluggish metabolism, and supplementing with the mineral has shown to get weight loss back on track. One study in Nutrition Research and Practice found that obese people who consumed 30 mg of zinc per day—the equivalent of just six raw oysters—had improved body mass indices, lost weight and showed improvements in blood cholesterol levels. Get shucking!
If your thyroid were a man, he’d be a meat-and-potatoes kinda guy. That’s because animal protein is brimming in amino acids, particularly tyrosine—the building block of thyroid hormone, and of dopamine—both of which are necessary for weight management. A lack of tyrosine in the diet may lead to an underactive thyroid, and a deficiency in dopamine is associated with food cravings and weight gain. You can find tyrosine in dairy and leafy greens, but poultry has the added benefit of being naturally low-fat and rich in vitamin B12—deficiencies of which are also common among people with sluggish thyroid symptoms.
Every spoonful of yogurt acts as a protective shield for your thyroid. That’s because yogurt is naturally rich in vitamin D, and not getting enough of the nutrient puts you at a higher risk of obesity and thyroid diseases, research suggests. Over 90 percent of people with Hashimoto’s, an autoimmune disease that’s the most common cause of hypothyroidism, are deficient in D, according to one study published in the International Journal of Health Sciences. Researchers say the sunshine vitamin’s immunity-boosting and anti-inflammatory properties protect the thyroid from damage. In addition to vitamin D, yogurt is also rich in probiotics that research suggests may help balance “good bacteria” in the gut that can be thrown off by thyroid disturbances. 7
There are plenty of fish in the sea, but salmon may be the best one for your metabolism. That’s because most cases of underactive thyroid are due to inflammation of the gland, and salmon boasts significant anti-inflammatory properties thanks to its rich omega-3 fatty acid content. In fact, one study that looked at the effects of weight loss and seafood consumption showed salmon to be the most effective at reducing inflammation — better than cod, fish oil and a no-fish diet. 8
If you always opt for coffee over tea, you could be missing out on a major metabolism boost. In an 8-week study in the Journal of Health Science, participants who drank green tea, then did a 30-minute workout, lost more fat than the non tea-drinking exercisers. What’s its magic? The brew contains catechins, a type of antioxidant that triggers the release of fat from fat cells and helps speed the liver’s capacity for turning fat into energy.
Our bodies need dietary fat—particularly healthy oils—in order to lose weight and function properly. The right kinds of fats and oils help quash hunger, maximize your metabolism, and speed nutrients through your body. Healthy monounsaturated fats like olive oil can actually help the body to burn calories. Extra virgin olive oil may also increase blood levels of serotonin, a hormone associated with satiety. Plus, olive oil is also loaded with polyphenols, antioxidants that help battle many diseases such as cancer, osteoporosis and brain deterioration.
Although it’s true that egg whites are low in calories, fat free and contain most of the protein found in an egg, eating the entire egg is beneficial to your metabolism. The yolk contains many metabolism-stoking nutrients, including fat-soluble vitamins, essential fatty acids and — most significantly — choline, a powerful compound that attacks the gene mechanism that triggers your body to store fat around your liver. Worried about cholesterol? New studies have found that moderate consumption of two whole eggs per day has no negative effect of a person’s lipid (fat) profile and may actually improve it.
Studies conducted at The Nutrition Institute at the University of Tennessee suggest that consuming calcium — which milk has plenty of — may help your body metabolize fat more efficiently. Other studies have shown that increased calcium intake from dairy products (though not from supplemental calcium carbonate) caused study participants to poop out more fat as opposed to it sticking around on the body.
It takes the body extra effort to break down whole grains than more refined and processed grains, like the flour ordinarily used to make bread and pasta. One study in the journal Obesity found that nighttime carb eaters lost 27 percent more body fat—and felt 13.7 percent fuller—than those on the standard diet. You can help keep your metabolic rate elevated by consuming foods that the body has to work harder to digest. Your go-tos are whole foods that are also rich in fiber. We’re talking brown rice, oatmeal, quinoa, sprouted grain breads and more of the best complex carbs for weight loss.
Recent studies have shown that garlic supports blood-sugar metabolism and helps control lipid (fat) levels in the blood. Adding garlic to foods that are rich in fats and carbohydrates may keep those substances from doing the damage they’re known to do. What’s more, eating garlic can help boost your immune system, help ward off heart disease, fight inflammation and lower blood pressure—to name a few.
In a study by Swiss and German researchers, lucky participants ate about 1.5 ounces of dark chocolate daily for two weeks. Ultimately, these chocolate nibblers had lower stress-hormone levels and a more regulated metabolism than a control group. Scientists speculate that chemicals in cocoa, such as flavonoids, play a role in regulating metabolism by alleviating stress that can cause your fat-burning engines to go on the fritz. Should you think this is a license to go wild, take heed: We’re talking small amounts of high-quality dark chocolate. Researchers say 1.5 ounces is enough.
Iron deficiency affects more than 1 in 5 women in the US. Being deficient in essential minerals can show up in all kinds of ways but an iron deficiency can also be a blow for getting into your skinny jeans with relative ease. See, your body can’t work as efficiently to burn calories when it doesn’t have what it needs to work properly. A cup of lentils, it turns out, provides over a third of your daily iron needs. Legumes like lentils also have been shown to drive down bad cholesterol and blood pressure. That’s why they’re one of the best foods to eat for rapid weight loss!
Kola Nut Tea
Clocking in at caffeine counts higher than a cup of coffee, kola nut teas are sure to zap any morning drowsiness–and set your metabolism up for a hotter burn. In a study published in the journal Physiology & Behavior, caffeine can boost metabolism and increase fat loss. Look for teas made from this caffeine-containing fruit; if you want to skip the label-reading, just grab a box of Celestial Seasoning’s Fast Lane, which clocks in 20 mg above your daily cup of coffee at 110 mg caffeine. Kola nut tea is just one of the best teas for weight loss!
It’s like butter that grows on trees. But instead of cholesterol, trans and saturated fats in butter, avocado contains metabolism-enhancing monounsaturated fat. But that’s not all. Each one is also packed with fiber and free-radical-killing antioxidants. Free radicals are destructive rogue oxygen molecules—natural byproducts of metabolism—that trigger various chain reactions in the body that destroy cells and DNA, causing all kinds of health problems. Antioxidants in fresh fruits and vegetables can help neutralize some free radicals, but they can’t reach the mitochondria—base camp for the free radical army. And that’s a problem; when your mitochondria aren’t working properly, your metabolism runs less efficiently. Enter: Avocado. A study published in the Journal of Diabetes Research found that monounsaturated-rich oil pressed from the fruit can help mitochondria survive attack. Researchers say the results jive with low-disease rates in Mediterranean countries where olive oil—nutritionally similar to the avocado—is a diet staple.
Calcium and vitamin C team up well to boost metabolism. Broccoli contains both nutrients, not to mention the kind of fiber that’s been shown to increase TEF (the Thermic Effect of Food, or your metabolic rate after eating). What’s more: Broccoli contains a compound that works on a genetic level to effectively “switch off” cancer genes, leading to the targeted death of cancer cells and slowing of disease progression. One study found men who ate three or more half-cup servings of broccoli per week had a 48 percent decreased risk for prostate cancer compared to men who ate fewer than one serving per week!
It’s well reported that fiery capsaicin (think: hot sauce, cayenne, chilies) can rev up the metabolism, but study findings presented at the Experimental Biology meeting in Anaheim, California, showed similar weight loss potential in dihydrocapsiate (DCT), the non-spicy cousin of hot peppers. Participants who ate the most DCT experienced a metabolic boost that was nearly double the placebo group! Bottom line: pile on the poblaños!
Rooibos tea is made from the leaves of the “red bush” plant, grown exclusively in the small Cederberg region of South Africa, near Cape Town. What makes rooibos tea particularly good for your thyroid health and belly is a unique and powerful flavonoid called Aspalathin. According to a study in Phytomedicine, polyphenols and flavonoids found in the plant inhibits adipogenesis–the formation of new fat cells–by as much as 22 percent. The chemicals also help aid fat metabolism. Plus, Rooibos contains no caffeine and is naturally sweet, so you won’t need to add sugar!
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5 Foods That Improve Thyroid Function
Is your thyroid functioning properly? If your thyroid is not producing enough hormones, a condition known as hypothyroidism, it can affect your body in negative ways and leave you feeling sluggish. Thyroid hormones are essential as they regulate energy levels, metabolism, body temperature, mood, heart rate, and blood pressure.
While the cause of thyroid disorders is largely unknown, there is evidence that certain foods can aid in thyroid function. If you have hypothyroidism, here are five foods to add to your diet.
Seaweed, such as kelp, nori, and wakame, are naturally rich in iodine—a trace element needed for normal thyroid function. Eat seaweed with sushi or get packaged seaweed snacks to toss in salads.
Brazil nuts, macadamia nuts, and hazelnuts are excellent sources of selenium, which helps support healthy thyroid function. Pack a small bag of assorted nuts to snack on throughout the day.
Fish is rich in Omega-3 fatty acids and selenium, which both help decrease inflammation. Bake salmon, cod, sea bass, haddock, or perch for lunch or dinner to get a healthy dose of Omega-3s and selenium.
Dairy products like yogurt, ice cream, and milk contain iodine. The thyroid needs iodine to prevent its glands from becoming enlarged—known as goiter. Treat yourself to a low-fat serving of frozen yogurt to get sufficient levels of iodine.
Eggs contain healthy amounts of both selenium and iodine. For the most health benefits, eat the whole egg, as the yolk holds most of the nutrients.
While nearly 20 million Americans have thyroid disorders, only about 40 percent are aware of their condition. Browse this symptom checklist to see if you might have a thyroid disorder. If you’re concerned about your thyroid function, make an appointment with a primary care physician or endocrinologist at Baylor St. Luke’s Medical Group.
American Thyroid Association | Iodine Deficiency
American Thyroid Association | Low Iodine Diet
American Thyroid Association | Hypothyroidism
NIH | Iodine in diet
9 Foods to Avoid With Hypothyroidism
7 Hypothyroidism-Friendly Foods to Add to Your Diet
7 Foods That Support Thyroid Health
Your thyroid is incredibly important to your everyday health — did you know that these foods can support thyroid health?
First things first, let’s break down the basics of why your thyroid is important, what it does, and the factors that can affect how well it works. It’s not that these foods are magic foods for thyroid health, but their nutrient profile and nutrients they provide your body is what’s most important and keep your thyroid functioning normally. You’re probably already eating a lot of them, here are 7 foods that support thyroid health.
The thyroid is basically your body’s silent workhorse — it releases the vital hormones that control your major bodily functions. This includes digestion, metabolism, heartbeat, temperature and how you use energy. When it’s not working correctly, you can gain unexplained weight, experience fatigue, feel anxious and more. (1)
According to the National Women’s Health Information Center, about 20 million people suffer from a thyroid disorder in the United States. You can tell that something is “off” with your thyroid when you experience issues like weight gain, depression, anxiety and you’re not sure why. Since the thyroid controls your body’s “thermostat” it directly affects appetite and energy, which both play a major role in how you feel every day.
Thyroid disorders can be tricky to diagnose with your doctor, and sometimes people have zero symptoms or signs that their thyroid is functioning abnormally. From Hashimoto’s (an autoimmune thyroid condition) to hyperthyroidism — when something’s going on with this butterfly-shaped gland at the base of the neck, someone could experience these thyroid disorders and common symptoms. In general, here are some things to learn about thyroid disorders:
Hypothyroidism — an underactive thyroid that doesn’t produce enough hormones (2)
- Unexplainable weight gain
- Digestive issues like bloating, constipation and gas
- Feeling cold all of the time
- Anxiety and unexplained moodiness
- Potential brain fog and weakened memory
- Feeling lethargic, lacking motivation and frequent feelings of fatigue
Hyperthyroidism — an overactive thyroid that produces too many hormones (3)
- Unexplained weight loss
- Experiencing insomnia
- Having chest pains
- Feeling anxiety and experiencing your heart racing
- Sweating a lot
Goiter — when the gland is abnormally large (4)
- Can be extremely large, but simple ones can be brought under control before this happens
- May cause difficulty breathing and swallowing
Thyroid Nodules — when a small lump is found in the gland (5)
- Typically, not noticeable
- Some nodules though may produce too much thyroid hormone and can cause hyperthyroidism
- Nodules that become too large can cause difficulty breathing or swallowing
Thyroid Cancer — cancer cells are found in the gland (6)
- Most thyroid nodules aren’t cancerous, but they should all be checked by a medical professional to rule this out
Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis — experiencing inflammation that’s reduced thyroid function (7)
- Feeling cold
- Having a depressive mood
- Experiencing dry skin
- Having puffy eyes
- Feeling constipated
- Unexplained weight gain
- Slowed heart rate
- Joint and muscle pain and fatigue.
What Factors Affect Thyroid Health?
Your thyroid is affected by a slew of factors — ranging from genetics to your lifestyle habits, stress, environmental toxins, and your diet.
Diets that are deficient in iodine, selenium, and zinc are at-risk of thyroid issues. Additionally, poor gut health plays a part in causing imbalances, too.
Fortunately, you can control your diet, and that means filling up on foods that support strong thyroid health. Below, I’m sharing 7 easy additions you can easily incorporate into your diet today. As with all health challenges, each person has a unique makeup and everybody will differ with specific foods and lifestyle that’s the best for them and their health goals.
Seaweed is the rockstar here — just one dried sheet contains well above the daily recommended value of iodine, an important nutrient that the thyroid turns into thyroid hormones. (8)
A handful or two of brazil nuts — about 6-7 nuts — can contain more than your daily recommended value of selenium. Studies have shown that selenium kickstarts the production of active thyroid hormones. (10) Brazil nuts also provide zinc, another important nutrient for your thyroid — a deficiency could cause hypothyroidism. (11)
Foods that are high in antioxidants are amazing for your thyroid, too. One study suggests that people with hypothyroidism have higher levels of free radicals. (12) Here’s a peek at the NS recipes that contain berries.
One egg contains about 20% of your daily recommended value of selenium and 15% of your daily recommended value of iodine. Check out some NS recipes that have eggs.
Garlic is thyroid-friendly because it supports blood-sugar metabolism and can fight inflammation. They may balance out foods that are rich in fats and carbohydrates, too. Read more about garlic in the Food Index.
6. Olive Oil
Healthy fat, as found in olive oil, can help maximize your metabolism and regulate weight — all tied to a happy thyroid. Olive oil is also packed with the antioxidant polyphenols that have been studied for their anti-cancer properties. (13)
Lentils are great sources of plant-based protein, but they also provide iron to the body. Research has shown that iron deficiency has been linked to poor thyroid function. (14) Here are the NS recipes that use this ingredient.
Let’s Hear It
Per usual, always chat with your doctor about these things rather than self-diagnose just based on a simple symptom list — that’s actually the beautiful thing about the body, it’s complex! I hope you found this article about all things thyroid and foods that support thyroid health interesting and helpful. What additional questions do you have? Leave a comment below — or say hi on Instagram @nutritionstripped and #nutritionstripped.
The 7 Best Foods for Thyroid Health
Ask Keri: Are there specific foods I can add to my diet that promote thyroid health?
Keri Says: People are becoming more aware of the importance of thyroid health, and that’s a good thing. And like everything that affects your body, what you eat can make a huge difference.
First, a quick reminder: There are two main thyroid health issues many people struggle with. Hyperthyroidism is an overactive thyroid. But the vast majority of people have the opposite, hypothyroidism, which is an underactive thyroid. Underactive means the the small butterfly-shaped gland fails to produce enough thyroid hormones, which can slow down metabolism and make you feel tired and sluggish all the time.
RELATED: 5 Surprising Reasons You’re Tired All the Time
Here’s where food comes in: Your thyroid needs specific nutrients to do its job properly, so if you eat the right foods, you’ll essentially be giving it fuel to rev up hormone production. (There are also some foods you might want to avoid to protect your thyroid…but that’s another complicated topic we’ll get into in another post, soon!) Here are a few to start with.
7 Foods for Thyroid Health
Yum, an excuse to enjoy delish, briny oysters. The tasty mollusks are one of the best dietary sources of zinc, and zinc helps your body produce the important thyroid hormone T3. They’re also high in selenium, another mineral involved in thyroid hormone synthesis.
2. Brazil Nuts
Speaking of selenium, brazil nuts are loaded with it, and aren’t you bored of almonds at this point? One large study showed diets low in selenium were associated with an increased risk of thyroid disease.
RELATED: You Need to Know This Before Getting a Thyroid Test
Sea veggies are rich in many minerals, especially iodine, which is essential for the production of thyroid hormones. Kelp is so rich in iodine, in fact, that it may be too much for people with hyperthyroidism, so consult your MD first if that’s your issue.
4. Greek Yogurt
You may be surprised, but yogurt is also a great source of iodine. And since it’s also a probiotic superfood, you’ll be getting the gut health benefits, too. That’s important because many thyroid issues are caused by autoimmune disease, and healing your immune system is all about healing your gut.
Incredible, edible eggs contain a cocktail of thyroid supporting nutrients, including selenium, zinc, iodine, vitamin D, and iron.
Antioxidants are important for many reasons, and they may be good for your thyroid, too. One study found people with thyroid disease had higher levels of free radicals threatening their well-being. Berries are filled with free radical-battling powers.
No, I’m not going to tell you you can’t eat kale if you’re struggling with Hashimoto’s. While cruciferous veggies like kale, broccoli, and cabbage do contain goitrogens, compounds that can interfere with thyroid function, the evidence so far shows that’s not a problem unless you’re eating them by the bucketful. The benefits still outweigh the risks. If you’re worried at all, though, eat spinach! It’s just as good for you, is lower in goitrogens, and contains thyroid-supporting nutrients like iron and antioxidants.
(Featured Photo: )
20 Best Foods for Your Thyroid
If you’re a health-conscious individual, you probably structure your diet with something in mind. Maybe it’s for your weight. Maybe it’s for your heart. Maybe it’s for your brain. But have you ever thought about the best foods for thyroid patients? Yes, just like all of those other health-based goals, your tiny, monarch-shaped gland requires culinary attention—because it’s one of the most important parts of your body.
If you don’t keep it in good shape, you could suffer rapid weight fluctuation, a loss in bone density, and even a precipitous drop in sex drive. And so if you’re wondering about the foods that are good for your thyroid, you’ll want to keep this list with you on your next trip to the grocery store.
Most nuts have some amount of selenium, which is a thyroid-healthy nutrient. But almonds also happen to have a high amount of magnesium, which, according to a study in Metabolism Journal, can keep your thyroid working smooth as butter. (Or almond butter.) That’s one of the primary reasons why almost are one of the best foods for hypothyroidism.
All leafy greens are good for you, but spinach might be one of the best greens for the thyroid. According to a 2013 study in the International Journal of Trichology, there’s a direct link between zinc deficiency and hypothyroidism. Know what has a lot of zinc? Spinach.
This orange spice adds an instant wallop of flavor to your cooking, but, as it turns out, it’s also a powerhouse for helping keep your thyroid in tip-top shape. Turmeric contains a chemical compound called curcumin. And, according to a study in the Experimental Biology and Medicine Journal, that curcumin is can help block the formation of thyroid cancer cells.
A study published in Annals of Pediatric Endocrinology & Metabolism found that foods high in iodine can help keep your thyroid’s hormone levels balanced. You can find iodine in most beans, but navy beans are your best source: In every cup, navy beans contain about 60 micrograms of iodine.
A study published in the International Journal of Endocrinology found that there is a significant link between how much selenium is in your diet and how healthy your thyroid is; selenium, a naturally-found chemical element, helps balance out thyroid-hormone production. And brown rice happens to be chock full of it.
Brazil nuts also happen to be high in selenium. And, according to a study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, eating just two or three Brazil nuts a day will have a significant effect on your thyroid. So go nuts!
Like brazil nuts and brown rice, sunflower seeds are also high in selenium. Plus these are the perfect snack to stash in your desk drawer to get you through meals—just the right amount of hold-you-over caloric value: a traditional one-ounce serving contains just under 200 calories.
Low-Fat Greek Yogurt
According to research in Nutrition Reviews, dairy is one of the best bets when it comes to eating for your thyroid; dairy is full of iodine. For our money, low-fat Greek yogurt is the way to go. In addition to loading up on iodine, you get a ton of muscle-toning, energy-boosting protein—and without the higher fat levels of regular yogurt.
Nori, dulse, kelp—whatever seaweed you prefer, it’s a good idea to slate some more into your diet. All of these tasty nautical greens are high in iodine. If you’re not a fan, however, don’t worry: You can get all the benefits from taking over-the-counter kelp supplements.
Not only are eggs the perfect breakfast to start your day, these protein-filled magic foods also have a positive impact on your thyroid health. Eggs contain almost all of the nutrients your thyroid needs, including iodine, zinc, and selenium. Yes, eggs truly are all they’re cracked up to be.
Sardines are a great food to eat with your thyroid in mind due to their inherently high level of iodine. But these tightly-packed fish also have high levels of proteins and healthy fats, making them a well-rounded part of any diet.
You should already be eating salmon already; the fish is chock full of heart-healthy omega-3’s. What’s more, a study in Clinical Nutrition Research found that eating salmon has a direct link to a healthier thyroid due to high iodine content.
One a day keeps the doctor away—especially if we talking about the health of your thyroid. A review in Clinical Nutrition Research found that frequent apple consumption was linked to a decreased risk of thyroid cancer. The reason? Nature’s favorite fruit happens to be packed with iodine.
Studies have also found that oranges can be linked to a decreased risk for thyroid cancer. Be careful, though, because many other citrus fruits have been found to have the opposite effect on your thyroid health. So if you feel a craving for some Vitamin C, stick to oranges.
Chicken is an excellent diet choice for a lot of reasons. For one, it’s a lean meat—a great source of protein. For another, it’s culinarily versatile; you can toss it into anything, from a salad to a quesadilla. And finally, according to research in the International Journal of Trichology, it’s full of zinc, a great nutrient for regulating thyroid hormone levels.
It might be a myth that carrots help your eyes, but it’s no lie that they help your thyroid. Carrots contain high level of a micronutrient called beta-carotene, which is the body can convert into either retinol or an antioxidant. And according to a study in Cancer, there is a positive correlation between people with high levels of beta-carotene and people with healthy thyroids.
As we mentioned, dairy is excellent for thyroid health. But milk does double duty: It’s a great source of B12. And a study published in the Journal of Pakistan Medical Association found that B12 deficiencies were linked to thyroid hormone deficiencies. Plus, you get a healthy dose of calcium, too. (But you knew that.)
In addition to being both delicious and wildly popular (try walking around any hipster enclave without seeing a snazzy new oyster joint), oysters are full of zinc. And, according to research in the International Journal of Trichology, there’s a direct link between zinc levels and a healthy thyroid. Too little zinc can result in wildly skewed hormone levels.
Coconut oil is the rare fat that may actually have a positive effect on thyroid health. According to nutritionist Natalie Longo, coconut oil is a great thing to consume to help your thyroid stay healthy because of the unique fat content it has: Instead of increasing your LDL (or bad) cholesterol, it increases your HDL (or good) cholesterol.
Try Going Vegan
Even though a lot of thyroid-healthy foods are derived from animals and animal products, studies have shown that eating a vegan diet may also be effective. In fact, a 2013 study published in Nutrients found that people following a vegan diet less likely to develop hypothyroidism, a condition where your thyroid produces fewer hormones than it should.
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In addition to the obvious impact exercise has on weight and metabolism, a study of patients with Graves’ disease found that a structured exercise program showed dramatic improvements in fatigue levels, and significantly more patients were able to successfully stop taking antithyroid medications without a relapse.25
Since fatigue can be a barrier to exercise, Lilienfield and Schneider recommend patients use a pedometer as a tool for a tangible source of structure and motivation. Lilienfield also suggests clients attend a gentle yoga class as a start to exercising.
Tying It Altogether
Thyroid disease presents unique challenges due to undesired weight changes, significant cardiovascular risks, and symptoms such as fatigue, mood changes, and gastrointestinal upset, which can hinder the development of healthful behaviors. It’s vital that dietitians focus on setting realistic goals for heart-healthy changes and regular exercise when counseling clients. With so many potential nutrient deficiencies and interactions with medications and supplements, it will be important for dietitians to coordinate with their clients’ healthcare team for optimal health outcomes.
— Cheryl Harris, MPH, RD, is a dietitian in private practice in Fairfax and Alexandria, Virginia. She’s also a speaker, writer, and health coach.
• “Medical Nutrition Therapy for Thyroid and Related Disorders” in Krause’s Food, Nutrition, & Diet Therapy, 13th edition
• The Everything Thyroid Diet Book by Clara Schneider
• The Thyroid Diet Revolution by Mary Shoman
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3. Golden SH, Robinson KA, Saldanha I, Anton B, Ladenson PW. Clinical review: prevalence and incidence of endocrine and metabolic disorders in the United States: a comprehensive review. J Clin Endocr Metab. 2009;94(6):1853-1878.
4. Graves’ Disease. Bethesda, MD: National Endocrine and Metabolic Diseases Information Service, US Dept of Health and Human Services; 2008. NIH Publication No. 08-6217.
6. Biondi B, Klein I. Hypothyroidism as a risk factor for cardiovascular disease. Endocrine. 2004;24(1):1-13.
7. Duntas LH, Brenta G. The effect of thyroid disorders on lipid levels and metabolism. Med Clin North Am. 2012;96(2):269-281.
8. Johnson JL. Diabetes control in thyroid disease. Diabetes Spectrum. 2006;19(3):148-153.
10. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Second National Report on Biochemical Indicators of Diet and Nutrition in the U.S. Population. Atlanta, GA: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, US Dept of Health and Human Services; 2012.
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Depression, “brain fog,” or difficulty concentrating
Anxiety, difficulty concentrating, nervousness
Infertility, missed periods
Infertility, missed periods
— Author compiled table from several sources.