Natural Health and Wellness for the Whole Family

Is Broccoli Bad for the Thyroid?

By Sarah Axtell, ND January 16, 2015

Cruciferous vegetables, such as cauliflower, kale, cabbage, brussel sprouts, collard greens, and broccoli, are packed full of nutrients. They contain powerful anti-cancer nutrients, such as indole-3-carbinol.

But what about its effect on the thyroid? I have many patients that say because they have hypothyroidism, they are avoiding the cruciferous veggies. But is it necessary to avoid these nutrient powerhouses? I say No.

While it is true that cruciferous vegetables contain natural compounds called goitrogens that can interfere with thyroid hormone production, the benefits of these vegetables outweigh the risks. Here is how to reduce your risk of these cruciferous veggies negatively impacting your thyroid:

  • Cook your cruciferous veggies. Rather than eating them raw, opt to steam, stir-fry or roast them. Goitrogens are inactivated by cooking.
  • Do not juice them or eat them raw in huge quantities. I have seen patients that juice copious amounts of these vegetables. This will certainly suppress your thyroid. If you are going to eat them raw, stick to 1 cup per day. One cup of these raw veggies will not have a negative impact on your thyroid.

For recipes incorporating cooked cruciferous vegetables, see here:

Collard Wraps

Creamy Roasted Red Pepper Soup with Cauliflower and Goat Cheese

Cauliflower and Broccoli Rice

Creamy Broccoli Soup

Brussel Sprouts with Hazelnuts, Sunflower Seeds and Dates

And What About Soy?

Soy also contains goitrogen compounds that can interfere with thyroid hormone synthesis. Eating soy at the same time as taking your thyroid medication can interfere with its absorption. So if you take thyroid medication, be sure to take it away from food. And never take it while eating tofu!

If you have hypothyroidism, I still believe you can eat soy in moderation (again, eat it away from taking your meds). Soy is certainly a controversial food. And my perspective is it’s all good in moderation. Here are some basics about soy:

  • Avoiding eating soy directly with your thyroid medication. Aim to space your consumption of soy at least 3 hours away from your thyroid medication.
  • Always buy organic! Soy is one of the top GMO foods, but buying it organic will ensure that it has not been genetically altered.
  • Always eat soy in it’s purest form. I’m talking organic tempeh, edamame, miso, and sprouted tofu. Avoid highly processed soy milks, protein bars containing soy, and soy protein powder. And definitely avoid the meat substitutes, such as soy burgers and soy chicken nuggets.
  • Eat soy in moderation. Limit your soy consumption to no more than 3 servings per week. Soy is a common allergen and some individuals cannot tolerate it at all. But for those of you that feel ok with soy, eat it in moderation.

For more info on optimizing thyroid health, see this previous blog post.

Editor’s Note: The information in this article is intended for your educational use only. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health practitioners with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition and before undertaking any diet, supplement, fitness, or other health program.


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