Goitrogens are compounds found in certain food items that tend to interfere with the normal functioning of the thyroid gland when consumed in excess amounts. It makes it very difficult for the thyroid gland to produce hormones required for normal metabolic functioning of the body.
There are 3 types of goitrogens found in foods namely: Flavonoids (naturally present in food items), Goitrins and Thiocyanates (produced when plants get chewed or sliced). Please take note that flavonoids are healthy antioxidants, but some of them get converted into goitrogens by our gut bacteria.
Goitrogens have a negative impact on people with thyroid issues as they reduce the ability of the thyroid gland that produces hormones required for normal functioning of the body.
Thyroid hormone helps to regulate the metabolism of the body, but when it is unable to produce hormones, it can cause health issues like:
- People with poor thyroid function are likely to be obese.
- Poor thyroid function leads to increased risk of hip fractures and non-spine fractures.
- Poor thyroid function increases the risk of dementia, mental decline and is linked to increased risk of heart diseases.
Avoid these foods in your diet as they contain goitrogens:
- Cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, horseradish, spinach, turnips, mustard greens, etc.
- Starchy plants and fruits like corn, peaches, peanuts, peas, sweet potatoes, pine nuts, strawberries, etc.
- Soy-based foods like tempeh, tofu, soy milk, edamame, etc.
Ways to minimise the negative effect of goitrogens in your diet:
- Eat a variety of plant-based foods as the variety in your diet will help limit your intake of goitrogens and provide you with good amounts of vitamins and minerals.
- Cook all your vegetables as cooking helps to reduce goitrogens.
- Give up on smoking as it is a risk factor for goitres.
- Increase your intake of selenium and iodine in your diet. So try to include foods like brazil nuts, sunflower seeds, whole grain pasta, etc.
In conclusion, you need not worry about goitrogens from food as when these foods are cooked and consumed in moderation, they don’t pose any health risk. Most foods are very nutritious and a small risk of goitrogens is overshadowed by other health benefits.