Goitrogens And Thyroid

For decades it’s been accepted science that eating goitrogens will interfere with thyroid hormone production. However, after weighing the pro’s and con’s of this diet practice, I no longer support it.

There are a lot of practitioners still advising patients to avoid goitrogens, which may cause more harmful long-term consequences.

As a patient with hypothyroidism/Hashimoto’s, you know that eating goitrogens is a no-no. According to animal studies, eating goitrogenic foods will interfere with thyroid hormone production by inhibiting iodine absorption.Goitrogens & Thyroid

Iodine is needed to make thyroid hormone and to convert it to its active form.


If healthy goitrogens such as spinach and kale interfere with iodine, why not just add more iodine to your diet?

Now, there are some practitioners that might suggest avoiding iodine altogether, which is nonsense because it’s needed for every cell in the human body. Plus, according to THE leading authority on iodine in the U.S., most people are deficient. The only real way to know if you’re deficient is to test via a 24-hour urine iodine test. Most doctors unfortunately use blood to test iodine, which is often inaccurate.

Iodine in large doses can cause adverse reactions in some people with Hashimoto’s. But, any nutrient in high dose can cause adverse reactions. Reactions to iodine can be eliminated by simply supplementing with selenium.

The bottom line…

Goitrogenic foods like broccoli, spinach, Brussels sprouts, & kale are sulfur containing veggies that have been shown to help reduce the risk of cancer. These foods help support the liver via detoxification. It is also the liver that helps support thyroid hormone conversion.

The liver, along with the gut, is THE most important part of the body when it comes to thyroid hormone because they’re both responsible for converting T4 to T3. The inability to convert T4 to T3 is a MAJOR cause of thyroid symptoms.

I’m not suggesting that you should go on a raw, all goitrogen diet to support liver function. Everything in moderation.

I do think it’s a good idea to add goitrogens back into your diet, moderately. Steam them, roast them, and eat them raw, but rotate them in and out of your diet.

Here are a list of goitrogen-containing foods.

  • Bok choy
  • Broccoli
  • Broccolini
  • Brussels sprouts
  • Cabbage
  • Canola
  • Cauliflower
  • Chinese cabbage
  • Choy sum
  • Collard greens
  • Horseradish
  • Kai-lan (Chinese broccoli)
    • Kale
    • Kohlrabi
    • Mizuna
    • Mustard greens
    • Radishes
    • Rapeseed (yu choy)
    • Rapini
    • Rutabagas (swedes)
    • Tatsoi
    • Turnips
    • Tempeh
    • Tofu
    • Bok choy
    • Edamame
    • Peanuts
    • Strawberries
    • Flax
    • Peaches
    • Millet
    • Sweet potatoes
    • Pears
    • Spinach
    • Pine nuts
    • Bamboo shoots

There is one exception to this new rule. Continue to avoid soy, because it’s a phytoestrogen and most women have very high estrogen levels, which contributes to thyroid problems.

So, rejoice and eat your goitrogens!

I truly believe that adding healthy goitrogens back into your diet will help you manage thyroid symptoms, hypothyroidism, and Hashimoto’s.

-Eat well and be well,
Dr. D