Food and Thyroid Health: What To Eat and What to Avoid

Published: November 17, 2016
Updated: August 12, 2019

Antioxidant Foods

Thyroid disease touches many people’s lives, either because you suffer from it yourself or know someone who does. I know this post will be pertinent to many of our readers and customers.

Depending on what type of thyroid condition you have – hypothyroidism (under active) or hyperthyroidism (over active) – it’s important to know that there are certain foods and nutrients that you should and should not be eating.

Nutrition For Hypothyroidism

Do eat:

  • Vitamin B: the B-vitamins are important for thyroid health.¹ Vitamin B12 deficiency is also common in hypothyroid patients.² Try eating fish, meat, poultry, eggs, milk and dairy for vitamin B12. And try brown rice, bananas, wheat germ, Vegemite, almonds and mushrooms for other B-vitamins.
  • Vitamin D: research has found that sufferers of hypothyroidism tend to also have a deficiency in vitamin D. Experts suggest supplementation if your levels are too low.³
  • Iron: too much or too little iron can affect your thyroid function. Iron deficiency has also been linked to decreased thyroid function.⁴ Get tested, and if you’re deficient, try to get your iron from dietary sources like white beans, lentils, and pumpkin seeds. This is because supplemental iron has the potential to interfere with thyroid medications.¹
  • Antioxidants: To reduce inflammation and oxidative stress, which impacts on thyroid health, eat foods high in antioxidants. Examples include green tea, white tea, organic berries, goji berries, high-quality dark chocolate, pecans, dark colored grapes, artichokes and dark leafy greens.

Try to avoid excessive consumption of:

  • Soy products: as many experts believe that soy products (especially the unfermented kind) can interfere with thyroid health and thyroid medications.⁵⁻⁶
  • These foods are believed to interfere with thyroid function and should not be overeaten by people with hypothyroidism: broccoli, cabbage, brussels sprouts, cauliflower, kale, spinach, turnips, soybeans, peanuts, linseed, pine nuts, millet, cassava, and mustard greens.¹
  • Smoking tobacco cigarettes: this one’s a no-brainer! Smoking is terrible for you in general and has the capacity to negatively impact your thyroid health.
  • Alcohol consumption: drinking in moderation and for special occasions is okay, and a part of a balanced lifestyle. Excessive alcohol consumption, on the other hand, is ill-advised.

Nutrition for Hyperthyroidism

Do eat:

  • Vitamin B: as above
  • Vitamin C: as an antioxidant and to support your immune system.
  • Probiotics with Lactobacillus acidophilus: to support gut health and immunity
  • Iron: as above
  • Antioxidants: as above
  • Healthy fats: olive oil, coconut oil, avocado oil, omega 3 fish oil and flaxseed oil… instead of unhealthy trans fats (see below) that contribute to a variety of health issues.

Try to avoid excessive consumption of these foods in order to reduce symptoms of hyperthyroidism:

  • Soy products: as above
  • Refined carbohydrates and sugar: these should be avoided as they may worsen the symptoms of hyperthyroidism.⁷ Examples include white bread, store-bought pastas, biscuits and candy
  • Red meat and processed meats: experts recommend eating less meats that have been cured, smoked, dried, and processed in other ways.⁷ Examples include bacon, salami, spam, some sausages, some burger patties, and luncheon meats.
  • Trans fats (usually hydrogenated vegetable oils): often found in commercially made goods like pastries, cakes, and fried goods. Be careful with margarine and vegetable oil spreads.
  • Smoking tobacco cigarettes: for the same reasons above
  • Alcohol consumption: for the same reasons above

Processed and refined foods are bad for everyone. But it appears to be especially bad if you suffer from hyperthyroidism.

We’ve endeavored to provide a list of the types of foods that will benefit each condition. But this is by no means exhaustive, and you should also keep in mind that moderation is key.

The above information is backed by science and recommended by The University of Maryland Medical Center.

We recommend you take this information and discuss with your doctor. Personalized advice about your thyroid health from a qualified medical practitioner is ideal.

We hope you’ve found this information helpful, and thanks again for checking out our blog!

Sources:

  1. http://umm.edu/Health/Medical/AltMed/Condition/Hypothyroidism
  2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18655403/
  3. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3921055/
  4. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18568296/
  5. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9464451/
  6. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17472472/
  7. http://umm.edu/health/medical/altmed/condition/hyperthyroidism

Article Comments

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  1. Lowana

    November 18, 2016 , 5:24 am

    Yes, I know about Soy..many years ago I was diagnosed with dairy intolerance so went off cheese, milk, etc..and substituted with soy cheese, soy milk, soy yoghurt and a couple of years later I was diagnosed with Graves disease which gave me double vision..after several years my cousin gave me an article which said soy products could give one thyroid problems…so I went off soy immediately, and went on oat and almond milk and cheese with 0 sugar which is no problem. Next blood test, about 6 months later, the Graves disease had gone..but because a nerve in one eye had been killed I can’t do anything about the double vision..darn.

  2. CD

    November 18, 2016 , 7:15 am

    Lowana, Have you ever thought about medical acupuncture? I too have/had Grave’s twice & besides a change in diet, TCM, OTC supplements, medical acupuncture helps to re-balance & does address nerve problems. It wouldn’t hurt to seek out a NCCAOM certified acupuncturist for a consultation.

  3. Ella Willis

    November 18, 2016 , 5:14 pm

    Hello thanks for information so what are symptoms for hypo/or hyper
    for example a person may feel sleep after they eat sugar which is that
    hypo or hyper Thanks

  4. Monica

    November 18, 2016 , 5:35 pm

    Hi Ella,

    According to endocrineweb common symptoms for hyperthyroidism are:
    Appetite change (decrease or increase)
    Difficulty sleeping (insomnia)
    Heart palpitations
    Fatigue
    Increased sweating

    And common symptoms for hypothyroidism are:
    Fatigue
    Hair loss
    Weight gain or increased difficulty losing weight
    Dry, rough pale skin
    Weakness

    – Monica @ AlgaeCal

  5. Linda

    February 25, 2017 , 9:49 am

    I have hypothyroidism and osteoporosis. It seems what I need for my bones is bad for my thyroid problem. I have been eating kale, spinach, broccoli, etc. I read that if they are cooked that it is okay to eat it, but not in excess. Is this true or should I just not eat it? FYI – I have been taking AlgaeCal and Triple Power Fish Oil for a month now.

  6. Monica

    February 27, 2017 , 9:07 am

    Hi Linda,
    If you are taking AlgaeCal Plus and Triple Power Omega 3 Fish Oil you are definitely providing your bones the nutrients they need. As for kale, spinach, broccoli etc. it is true that goitrogens can interfere with thyroid function, but the way you prepare them can break down those compounds significantly – when cooking or steaming. You should definitely not avoid them as they are filled with vitamins, minerals and other nutrients you need!

    – Monica @ AlgaeCal

  7. Renee

    August 19, 2017 , 5:15 pm

    So, just to clarify, (and I have hypothyroidism and osteoporosis as well)…it’s fine to eat spinach and broccoli if COOKED/Steamed. What about peanuts? I love low sugar/natural peanut butter and that’s one of the main sources of protein. Thank you.

  8. Monica

    August 21, 2017 , 11:03 am

    Hi Renee,

    You can definitely consume goitrogenic foods (spinach, broccoli, peanuts etc.) raw or cooked/steamed. The research shows that when consumed in excess it may be problematic in susceptible individuals. Excess meaning pounds of these cruciferous veggies per day.

    We will definitely be working on updating this content to relay that information more clearly!

    – Monica @ AlgaeCal

  9. Beckie

    March 17, 2019 , 1:38 pm

    I have hypothyroidism my numbers are good but the fatigue is still clearly a struggle do you think it could be depression??

  10. Jenna AlgaeCal

    March 18, 2019 , 2:32 pm

    Glad you reached out, Beckie. We suggest speaking with your doctor about any symptoms you’re experiencing so they can help you move forward towards feeling your best! ❤️

    – Jenna @ AlgaeCal

  11. Sandy french

    August 30, 2020 , 3:40 pm

    I have hypothyroidism and eat peanut butter by the spoonful and wonder if I should stop

  12. Blaire AlgaeCal

    September 2, 2020 , 3:20 pm

    Hi Sandy,

    That’s a great question! It’s typically advised to avoid excessive consumption of peanuts if you have hypothyroidism. That said, please do check in with your doctor/dietician for the most personalized recommendations. ❤️

    – Blaire @ AlgaeCal

  13. Kavitha rao

    October 3, 2020 , 1:02 pm

    Hi I have hypothyroidism and B12 deficiency..I have excess hairloss and weight gain…please suggest me proper indian food in order to balance everything

  14. Blaire AlgaeCal

    October 6, 2020 , 12:14 pm

    Hi Kavitha,

    Thanks for reaching out!

    You may enjoy this Hypothyroidism Indian Diet Plan. That said, it’s always best to discuss your personal nutrition needs with a dietician! ❤️

    – Blaire @ AlgaeCal

  15. yehleen

    December 18, 2020 , 3:43 pm

    Hi,
    I’m mildly low in THS, but regular Free on T4, which shows subclinical hyperthyroidism. I’m having hair loose. I need help on how to balance my diet. How many nuts can I eat daily? How large is the proportion that I can eat other foods.

  16. Megan AlgaeCal

    December 21, 2020 , 12:37 pm

    Hi Yehleen!

    We would recommend consulting a health professional such as a dietitian who can work with you closely to come up with an individualized nutrition plan. We would also recommend consulting your doctor about your labwork and discussing how to treat your subclinical hyperthyroidism. As we are not medical professionals, we are unable to provide this advice for you. Thanks for your understanding! ❤️

    -Megan @ AlgaeCal

This article features advice from our industry experts to give you the best possible info through cutting-edge research.

Prof. Didier Hans
PHD, MBA - Head of Research & Development Center of Bone Diseases, Lausanne University Hospital CHUV, Switzerland,
Lara Pizzorno
MDiv, MA, LMT - Best-selling author of Healthy Bones Healthy You! and Your Bones; Editor of Longevity Medicine Review, and Senior Medical Editor for Integrative Medicine Advisors.,
Dr. Liz Lipski
PhD, CNS, FACN, IFMP, BCHN, LDN - Professor and Director of Academic Development, Nutrition programs in Clinical Nutrition at Maryland University of Integrative Health.,
Dr. Loren Fishman
MD, PhD - Medical Director of Manhattan Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation and Founder of the Yoga Injury Prevention Website.,
Dr. Carole McArthur
MD, PhD - Professor of Immunology, Univ. of Missouri-Kansas City; Director of Residency Research in Pathology, Truman Medical Center.,