The thyroid is a gland situated at the front of the neck, below the Adam’s apple. It produces hormones that regulate growth, development, menstrual cycle, sleep, etc. (1). When the thyroid becomesoveractive (hyperthyroidism) or underactive (hypothyroidism), it causes weight gain or weight loss, irregular periods, stunted growth, an underdeveloped brain, and depression (2).
Thankfully, the thyroid diet can help normalize thyroid function. Here’s a list of foods to eat and avoid for hypothyroidism or hyperthyroidism and a sample diet plan for each condition. Read on!
Table Of Contents
Hypothyroidism Diet – Foods To Eat
Hypothyroidism can lead to a disrupted menstrual cycle, weight gain, constipation, goiter, depression, dry skin, hair fall, muscle fatigue, slow heart rate, high blood cholesterol, and a puffy face. Apart from medicines, you can consume these foods to boost your thyroid function.
1. Iodized Salt
According to the American Thyroid Association, iodine is needed for the production of the thyroid hormone. Iodine deficiency can lead to hypothyroidism and goiter (3). Since your body cannot produce iodine naturally, you should eat foods that contain a good amount of iodine. And the best way to do that is to consume iodized salt.
2. Brazil Nuts
Brazil nuts are a great source of the mineral selenium that helps catalyze the conversion of the inactive thyroid hormone to the active form. Scientists have found that Brazil nut supplementation improved thyroid hormone levels (4).
Selenium also helps reduce inflammation and inhibits cancer cell proliferation. You can consume up to 8 Brazil nuts per day. Do not eat too many as it may lead to nausea, diarrhea, and vomiting.
Fish are rich in omega-3 fatty acids and selenium (5). Omega-3 fatty acids help lower LDL cholesterol, and selenium keeps your thyroid hormone kicking (6), (7). Consume salmon, sardines, and tuna to counteract hypothyroidism. You can have 3-5 oz fish every day. Make sure not to overcook the fish.
4. Bone Broth
By consuming bone broth, you can kill two birds with one stone. First, bone broth contains the amino acids glycine and proline that help repair the digestive lining and improve hypothyroidism. Second, hypothyroidism can fracture your bones and having bone broth can help strengthen your bones (8).
Consume a cup of bone broth for lunch or dinner. Toss in some vegetables. Make sure to cook the vegetables properly. Raw cruciferous vegetables like cabbage, cauliflower, turnip, and brassica seeds contain goitrin, an active goitrogen that reduces thyroid hormone secretion (9). However, proper cooking destroys the goitrogen factor.
5. Vegetables And Fruits
Green leafy vegetables, colorful vegetables, and fruits are great sources of minerals, vitamins, antioxidants, and dietary fiber. However, you should be careful if you have hypothyroidism because a few veggies and fruits can hinder the production of the thyroid hormones and are known as goitrogens.
Vegetables such as cauliflower, spinach, kale, broccoli, cabbage, radish, sweet potato, peach, avocado, and mustard greens are goitrogens (10). However, cooking these veggies and fruits properly can render the goitrogens inactive.
Seaweed like nori, kelp, and kombu help treat hypothyroidism as they are great sources of iodine, B-vitamins, riboflavin, and pantothenic acid. They absorb more iodine from the sea and also contain an amino acid called tyrosine, which is the most important amino acid to form thyroid hormones (11).
They help upregulate the thyroid hormone production, uplift mood, prevent lethargy, and improve brain function. You can have up to 150 mcg of seaweed per day.
Low-fat milk, yogurt, and cheese are rich in iodine and selenium that help boost thyroid hormone production and activation. They are also rich in the amino acid tyrosine that helps combat the symptoms of hypothyroidism like depression and fatigue (12).
Have a glass of milk, half a cup of yogurt, and ⅙ cup of cheese per day to increase the thyroid hormone levels.
8. Beef And Chicken
Your thyroid function can also be accelerated by providing your body with the required amounts of zinc. It is mostly found in beef and chicken and can help convert triiodothyronine (T3) to thyroxine (T4). This conversion is of great importance because T3 is the inactive form while T4 is the active form of the thyroid hormone. Consume at least 3 oz of chicken breast or lean cuts of beef to boost thyroxine production. Zinc supplementation also improves the hormonal balance (13).
Eggs, especially the yolk portion, are a great source of iodine and can help alleviate hypothyroidism (14). Include whole eggs 2-3 times in a week in your diet, depending on your lipid profile.
Shellfish like shrimp and lobster are packed with iodine and zinc. And, as you know, iodine and zinc can help boost the production of the thyroid hormone. Consume at least 3 oz shellfish to improve your thyroid levels (15).
11. Extra Virgin Coconut Oil
Virgin coconut oil contains high levels of lauric acid, a medium-chain triglyceride that is converted into monolaurin and has antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties and improves metabolism (16).
Add 1-2 tablespoons of extra virgin coconut oil to your smoothie or use it as a salad dressing.
12. Flax Seeds
Add 2-3 tablespoons ground flax seeds to your smoothie or breakfast cereal, or use flax seed oil for cooking.
Legumes are rich in iodine and zinc and are gluten-free (19). You can consume lentils, beans, bean sprouts, chickpeas, etc. to boost your thyroid gland hormone secretion.
14. Fiber-Rich Foods
Add fiber-rich foods to your diet because if you have hypothyroidism, chances are you also experience indigestion and constipation. Fiber helps improve bowel movement and digestion (20).
Include foods such as papaya, cooked green leafy veggies, and gluten-free whole grains to improve your digestion. Here’s a list of high-fiber foods for weight loss.
Water helps hydrate your body and flush out toxins (21). Drink 3-4 liters of clean water per day to help your cells function properly. Though water may not directly help you tackle hypothyroidism, drinking enough of it can help your organs function properly.
These were the 15 foods you should consume if you have hypothyroidism. Here’s your diet chart.
Sample Hypothyroidism Diet Plan
Note:Consult your doctor before starting this diet plan.
|Meals||What To Eat|
|Early Morning (7:00 – 7:30 am)||1 cup warm water with juice of half a lime + 1 Brazil nut + Mixed seeds mixture|
|Breakfast (8:15 – 8:45 am)||1 boiled egg + oatmeal with apple and flax seed powder + 3 Brazil nuts|
|Lunch (12:00 – 12:30 pm)||Seaweed salad with 1 tablespoon extra virgin coconut oil or shrimp lettuce wrap with salsa dip|
|Evening Snack (4:00 pm)||1 peach + 1 cup yogurt bowl|
|Dinner (7:00 pm)||1 cup bone broth/grilled salmon/lentil soup with thoroughly cooked vegetables|
Avoid consuming the foods mentioned below.
Foods To Avoid To Treat Hypothyroidism
- Raw cruciferous vegetables like cabbage, cauliflower, turnip,etc.
- Gluten-containing foods.
- High-sugar foods as uncontrolled insulin spikes deteriorate the hypothyroidism condition.
- Junk food and processed foods, like deep-fried foods, batter-fried foods, potato wafers, French fries, etc. These foods have a truckload of sodium but no iodine or nutritional value. They will only increase the cholesterol levels and take a toll on your health.
- Green tea. There are many studies that have confirmed that green tea possesses anti-thyroid properties and consuming excessive green tea can cause hypothyroidism (22).
If you have an overactive thyroid, you must go on a hyperthyroidism diet. Here’s a list of foods you can eat:
Hyperthyroidism Diet – Foods To Eat
Hyperthyroidism leads to weight loss, increased heart rate, anxiety, irritability, irregular periods, bulging eyes, insomnia, difficulty in concentrating, increased hunger, and moist skin (23). Apart from your doctor prescribed medicines, certain foods can also help treat hyperthyroidism. Here’s the list.
1. Raw Fruits And Vegetables
Raw cruciferous vegetables or leafy greens are goitrogens, i.e., they inhibit the production of the thyroid hormones (9). This is exactly what you need as your thyroid is overactive.
Consume broccoli, spinach, kale, bok choy, cabbage, lettuce, Chinese cabbage, carrot, cauliflower, radish, collard greens, rocket spinach, Brussels sprouts, bell pepper, tomato, apple, berries, kiwi, orange, lemon, grapefruit, etc.
2. Millets And Brown Rice
Millets and brown rice also have high goitrogenic activity (9). They are a great source of dietary fiber, vitamins, and minerals. You can consume ½-1 cup brown rice or millets per day to suppress the overproduction of the thyroid hormone.
3. Lean Proteins
Have chicken breast, fish, mushroom, soy chunks, and legumes to help build lean muscle mass. Hyperthyroidism leads to an increased appetite and rapid weight loss. Since proteins take much longer to digest, they will keep you full for a longer duration (24).
Basil, oregano, and rosemary are anti-inflammatory in nature and can help alleviate the problem of hyperthyroidism (25).
These are the four main food groups that can act as a dietary aid to treat hyperthyroidism. Here’s your diet chart.
Sample Hyperthyroidism Diet Chart
Note:Consult your doctor before starting this diet. May vary from person to person as per the activity level.
|Meals||What To Eat|
|Early Morning (7:00 – 7:30 am)||2 cups room-temperature water|
|Breakfast (8:15 – 8:45 am)||Tomato+apple+grapefruit smoothie and 2 boiled eggs|
|Mid-Morning (10:30 am)||1 medium cup baby carrots with a dash of lime juice and sea salt|
|Lunch (12:30 – 1:00 pm)||Tuna/chicken/mushroom salad with spinach, asparagus, kale, tomato, and tofu|
|Evening Snack (4:00 pm)||370 ml watermelon juice + 20 kernels of in-shell pistachios|
|Dinner (7:00 – 7:30 pm)||Kidney bean chili or grilled fish with herbs and veggies|
Now, let’s take a look at the foods to avoid if you have hyperthyroidism.
Foods To Avoid To Treat Hyperthyroidism
- Iodine-, zinc-, and selenium-rich foods, such as shellfish, oysters, seaweed, eggs, and Brazil nuts
- Artificial sweeteners
- Milk and milk products
- Alcohol and aerated drinks
- Packaged or artificially flavored and colored foods
Other Useful Tips
- Eat every 2 hours.
- Consume fiber-rich, green, leafy veggies.
- Avoid drinking water immediately after breakfast, lunch, or dinner.
- Consume vitamin and mineral supplements.
- Consume adequate protein. You can consult a registered dietitian in this regard.
- Get your daily dose of healthy fats by consuming flaxseeds, olive oil, flaxseed oil, etc.
Hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism are serious health issues and should not be ignored. Foods can help you a lot, but a few nutrients in the food may interfere with both hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism medicines. So, talk to a registered dietitian before consuming any of the foods mentioned here. Avoid foods that you are allergic to.
Expert’s Answers For Readers’ Questions
What should people with a thyroid problem not eat?
If you have hypothyroidism, avoid consuming raw, cruciferous veggies, sugary foods, junk food, processed food, foods containing gluten, and green tea.
If you have hyperthyroidism, avoid consuming iodine, zinc, and selenium-rich foods, artificial sweeteners, milk and milk products, artificially colored and flavored foods, Brazil nuts, seaweed, aerated drinks, and alcohol.
How can I heal my thyroid naturally?
You can heal your thyroid naturally by eating the right foods and avoiding the foods that may aggravate your thyroid problem. Keep stress away and sleep well.
How can I lose weight when I have a thyroid problem?
Avoid consuming high-calorie and zero-nutrition value foods. Trans fats, processed foods, sugary foods, animal fat, butter, margarine, and junk foods have to go off the menu. You must also do cardio regularly. Do resistance band exercises or lift weights twice a week. Eat healthy foods and take your medicines.
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- Thyroid Disease, Clinical Methods: The History, Physical, and Laboratory Examinations. 3rd edition, US National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health.
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- Barcza Stockler-Pinto, Milena et al. “EFFECT OF SELENIUM SUPPLEMENTATION VIA BRAZIL NUT (BERTHOLLETIA EXCELSA, HBK) ON THYROID HORMONES LEVELS IN HEMODIALYSIS PATIENTS: A PILOT STUDY.” Nutricion hospitalaria,
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- Köhrle, Josef. “Selenium and the thyroid.” Current Opinion in Endocrinology & Diabetes and Obesity 22.5 (2015): 392-401.
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- Palinkas, Lawrence A et al. “Psychoneuroendocrine effects of combined thyroxine and triiodothyronine versus tyrosine during prolonged Antarctic residence.” International journal of circumpolar health vol. 66,5 (2007): 401-17.
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- Bhasin, Shalender et al. “Effect of Protein Intake on Lean Body Mass in Functionally Limited Older Men: A Randomized Clinical Trial.” JAMA internal medicine vol. 178,4 (2018): 530-541.
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