Certain foods can help support your thyroid, and there are certain foods you should avoid. Here, we dig into best and worst foods for hypothyroidism. 

There’s no such thing as a magic hypothyroid diet. But certain foods, combined with the right medicine, can help keep your thyroid running like it should. Despite the online buzz these days, there’s really no such thing as a hypothyroid diet. No food can cure a sluggish thyroid. But combining a healthy, balanced eating plan with the right medication can ease your symptoms, so you’ll soon feel like your old self again. Well, maybe a slightly larger version of yourself. You’ll still have to work off any weight you may have gained-but at least you can blame it on your slow-poke thyroid.

Certain foods can help support your thyroid, and there are certain foods you should avoid. Here, we dig into best and worst foods for hypothyroidism. 

What Is Hypothyroidism?

The thyroid gland is a small, butterfly-shaped gland that sits near the base of your neck.It makes and stores thyroid hormones that affect nearly every cell in your body.

When the thyroid gland receives a signal called thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH), it releases thyroid hormones into the bloodstream. This signal is sent from the pituitary gland, a small gland found at the base of your brain, when thyroid hormone levels are low.

Occasionally, the thyroid gland doesn’t release thyroid hormones, even when there is plenty of TSH. This is called primary hypothyroidism and the most common type of hypothyroidism.

Approximately 90% of primary hypothyroidism is caused by Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, an autoimmune disease in which your immune system mistakenly attacks your thyroid gland .

Other causes of primary hypothyroidism are iodine deficiency, a genetic disorder, taking certain medications, and surgery that removes part of the thyroid.

Other times, the thyroid gland does not receive enough TSH. This happens when the pituitary gland is not working properly and is called secondary hypothyroidism.

Thyroid hormones are very important. They help control growth, cell repair, and metabolism — the process by which your body converts what you eat into energy.

Your metabolism affects your body temperature and at what rate you burn calories. That’s why people with hypothyroidism often feel cold and fatigued and may gain weight easily


Foods to Eat for Thyroid Health

Just because your thyroid is out of whack doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy plenty of good food. Below are some smart choices that support thyroid health. Most of them will fill you up for not a lot of calories-a plus if you’re trying to lose weight.

Seafood & Seaweed

Think of seafood as your thyroid’s BFF. Many kinds of fish are rich in iodine and other nutrients your body needs to make and use thyroid hormone efficiently. Best bets:

  • Cod, tuna, seaweed, shrimp and other shellfish are excellent sources of iodine, essential for the production of thyroid hormone. Most Americans get enough iodine in iodized table salt, but people with low thyroid function may need more.
  • Tuna and sardines are rich in selenium, a mineral that helps activate thyroid hormone.
  • Oysters, Alaskan king crab and lobster are high in zinc, a mineral that helps regulate the release of thyroid hormone and helps the body absorb it.

Caution: Talk with your doctor if you have Hashimoto’s disease, the most common cause of hypothyroidism. Getting too much iodine may cause side effects for you. For most adults, the recommended daily allowance for iodine is 150 mcg. The American Thyroid Association warns against taking daily supplements with more than 500 mcg of iodine.

Lean Meats


Beef and chicken are good for thyroid function – google image

Beef and chicken are excellent sources of zinc, a nutrient our bodies need for proper thyroid function. Not a meat eater? Beans (think kidney beans, baked beans and chickpeas) and fortified breakfast cereals are good choices too.

Nuts & Seeds

If you want to show your thyroid some love, try eating a few Brazil nuts every day. Just 1 ounce (about 6 to 8 nuts) provides a whopping 544 micrograms of selenium, making it one of the richest sources around. Other thyroid-friendly choices: cashews, pumpkin seeds and sunflower seeds.

Snack on a handful of nuts, swirl sunflower-seed butter on top of oatmeal or add cashews to your salad.

Leafy Greens

Dark, leafy green veggies like spinach, collard greens and kale score big in three ways: They’re high in iron, magnesium and vitamin A-all nutrients your thyroid needs to thrive. Vitamin A helps your thyroid produce thyroid hormone, while both iron and magnesium help the body absorb it. One small study of healthy women ages 17 to 50 found that getting enough vitamin A may help lower the risk of mild hypothyroidism in premenopausal women.

Another plus: Leafy greens are loaded with fiber, which improves digestion. If hypothyroidism gives you problems with constipation, a fresh salad or a serving of greens can get things moving again.



Egg whites are packed with protein, which can help boost a slow metabolism. Don’t skip the yolks, though-they’re high in both iodine and selenium and deliver a fair amount of protein too. One whole egg has 6 grams of protein and about half of that protein is in the yolk.


Yogurt & Other Dairy

Yogurt, milk, cheese and other dairy foods are all good sources of iodine-1 cup of low-fat yogurt which provides half of your daily iodine needs. Dairy foods also deliver vitamin D, a nutrient many people with hypothyroidism need more of.

Foods to Limit or Avoid

Foods with Goitrogens

Some otherwise-nutritious foods contain goitrogens, compounds that can keep your thyroid from working like it should. Cooking seems to reduce the effect, and many foods with goitrogens can and should be part of a healthy diet. Still, some research suggests that eating these foods in large amounts may cause thyroid problems, especially if you don’t get enough iodine:

  • Soy
  • Cabbage, cauliflower and other cruciferous vegetables
  • Coffee, green tea and alcohol


If you have celiac disease, you may have a higher risk of other autoimmune diseases, including thyroid problems. Some studies show that switching to a gluten-free diet may prevent hypothyroidism in people with celiac disease. 


Highly Processed, High-Calorie Foods

Most weight gain due to a low-functioning thyroid comes from excess salt and water. Once you’ve started treatment, you can expect to lose a little-usually around 10 percent or less of your total body weight, according to the American Thyroid Association. Cutting back on processed, high-calorie foods (like, say, almost everything in the snack aisle) will help you get your weight back on track..

There is no magical diet to eat when you have hypothyroidism, but there are best and worst foods for hypothyroidism you should know. Your thyroid condition and your health are individual, so be sure to speak with your doctor or a registered dietitian to find an eating plan that works for you.

Source: Eatingwell, Healthline 


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