What are goitrogens and how do they apply to thyroid health?
Goitrogens are foods like broccoli, cauliflower and kale; which are referred to as cruciferous vegetables. Soy is another food categorized as a goitrogen. Many people with thyroid disease have heard they must stay away from these healthy vegetables because they hinder the production of thyroid hormones. Thyroid hormones are vital in the body and contribute to many functions like: metabolism, growth, brain development, muscle and skeletal development. The truth is, goitrogens are only harmful to thyroid health when a person has an iodine deficiency. Iodine is the mineral responsible for producing thyroid hormones which are important for metabolism. The most common source of iodine is iodized salt, but it is found in other foods too, like seafood and dairy products.
Why are cruciferous vegetables beneficial for our body?
These vegetables provide numerous benefits; it is not a group of food to throw by the wayside. Decreasing the risk of many types of cancers is perhaps what cruciferous vegetables are known for, however they also protect against cardiovascular disease by decreasing inflammation in the body. Cruciferous vegetables are a good source of fiber, folic acid, vitamin A, B6, C and Omega 3. Eating a wide variety of these delicious vegetables will provide the most nutrients for the body.
No longer be afraid of eating your favorite cruciferous vegetables and miss out on many health benefits. Studies show that heating cruciferous vegetables before eating them will inactivate the goitrogens, so they will not have a negative effect on thyroid hormones and metabolism. It is acceptable to eat several servings a week of these cooked vegetables, especially when iodine levels are adequate. Moderate soy intake is also acceptable; however, soy supplementation is not recommended. Don’t be afraid to try a new vegetable today!
Contributed by Camille Osborne, Dietetics Student
Harris, Cheryl. “Thyroid Disease and Diet — Nutrition Plays a Part in Maintaining Thyroid Health .” Today’s Dietitian 14.7 (2012): 40. http://www.todaysdietitian.com/newarchives/070112p40.shtml. Web. 16 Mar. 2017.
Magee, Elaine. “The Super-Veggies: Cruciferous Vegetables.” Web MD. http://www.webmd.com/food-recipes/features/super-veggies-cruciferous-vegetables#1, n.d. Web. 16 Mar. 2017.