WHAT IS A GOITROGEN?
Most goitrogens are naturally-occurring chemicals that are ingested in foods or drugs. These chemicals can interfere with thyroid function in different ways. Some compounds induce antibodies that cross-react with the thyroid gland; others interfere with thyroid peroxidase (TPO), the enzyme responsible for adding iodine during production of thyroid hormones. Either way, the thyroid isn’t able to produce as many of the hormones that are needed for regulating metabolism.
For people with healthy thyroid function, the thyroid simply compensates and makes more of the hormones as they’re called for.
But in some people whose thyroid function is already compromised, the thyroid gland may actually grow more cells as it tries to make up for inadequate hormone production, eventually forming a goiter (a swelling or enlargement of the thyroid gland).
WHAT FOODS CONTAIN GOITROGENS?
2. Soy isoflavones or Soy products
These compounds are primarily found in cruciferous vegetables, such as cabbage, Brussels sprouts, broccoli, broccolini, cauliflower, mustard greens, kale, turnips, and collards.
Isothiocyanates, like soy isoflavones, appear to block TPO, and they may also disrupt signaling across the thyroid’s cell membranes.
Women with thyroid problems should definitely avoid them, especially in their raw state.
Certain “potentially goitrogenic” compounds are also present in small amounts in peanuts, pine nuts, millet, peaches, strawberries, spinach, and cassava root, among others.
Can you eat them at all?
You don’t have to be overly concerned in this category unless you’re consuming them in high amounts on a continual basis, they’re not likely to have undue impact on your thyroid health because the possible goitrogens are present in such minute quantities.
HOW TO EAT AND ENJOY GOITROGENS WHILE KEEPING YOUR THYROID HEALTHY
So, can you really never eat some of these wonderful vegetables and fruits again?
The key is not to eat them raw.
You can eat them if… you prepare them with heat.
It’s all in how they’re prepared as heat alters the isothiocyanates’ molecular structure and eliminates the goitrogenic effect:
- steam, cook, or ferment your vegetables to reduce the goitrogenic compounds
- rotate your choices so that you’re not eating the same foods every day