If you’re a health-conscious individual, you probably structure your diet with something in mind. Maybe it’s for your weight. Maybe it’s for your heart. Maybe it’s for your brain. But have you ever thought to eat for your thyroid?
Yes, just like all of those other health-based goals, your tiny, monarch-shaped gland requires culinary attention—because it’s one of the most important parts of your body. If you don’t keep it in good shape, you could suffer rapid weight fluctuation, a loss in bone density, and even a precipitous drop in sex drive. So next time you’re perusing the grocery aisles, shop with your thyroid in mind by adding these 20 foods to your shopping list. And for more on your most essential gland, be sure to bone up on the 20 Reasons Why It’s Way More Important Than You Imagined.
This orange spice adds an instant wallop of flavor to your cooking, but, as it turns out, it’s also a powerhouse for helping keep your thyroid in tip-top shape. Turmeric contains a chemical compound called curcumin. And, according to a study in the Experimental Biology and Medicine Journal, that curcumin is can help block the formation of thyroid cancer cells. What’s more, if you brush your teeth with turmeric, you’re certain to experience a whiter smile in just days.
All leafy greens are good for you, but spinach might take the cake, especially when it comes to thyroid health. According to a study in the International Journal of Trichology, there’s a direct link between zinc deficiency and hypothyroidism. Know what has a lot of zinc? Spinach. Also, spinach happens to be one of the 10 Best Non-Exercise Stress-Busters.
A study published in Annals of Pediatric Endocrinology & Metabolism found that foods high in iodine can help keep your thyroid’s hormone levels balanced. You can find iodine in most beans, but navy beans are your best source: In every cup, navy beans contain about 60 micrograms of iodine.
A study published in the International Journal of Endocrinology found that there is a significant link between how much selenium is in your diet and how healthy your thyroid is; selenium, a naturally-found chemical element, helps balance out thyroid-hormone production. And brown rice happens to be chock full of it.
Brazil nuts also happen to be high in selenium. And, according to a study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, eating just two or three Brazil nuts a day will have a significant effect on your thyroid. So go nuts!
Like brazil nuts and brown rice, sunflower seeds are also high in selenium. Plus these are the perfect snack to stash in your desk drawer to get you through meals—just the right amount of hold-you-over caloric value: a traditional one-ounce serving contains just under 200 calories.
Low-Fat Greek Yogurt
According to research in Nutrition Reviews, dairy is one of the best bets when it comes to eating for your thyroid; dairy is full of iodine. For our money, low-fat Greek yogurt is the way to go. In addition to loading up on iodine, you get a ton of muscle-toning, energy-boosting protein—and without the higher fat levels of regular yogurt.
Nori, dulse, kelp—whatever seaweed you prefer, it’s a good idea to slate some more into your diet. All of these tasty nautical greens are high in iodine. If you’re not a fan, however, don’t worry: You can get all the benefits from taking over-the-counter kelp supplements.
Not only are eggs the perfect breakfast to start your day, these protein-filled magic foods also have a positive impact on your thyroid health. Eggs contain almost all of the nutrients your thyroid needs, including iodine, zinc, and selenium. Yes, eggs truly are all they’re cracked up to be.
Sardines are a great food to eat with your thyroid in mind due to their inherently high level of iodine. But these tightly-packed fish also have high levels of proteins and healthy fats, making them a well-rounded part of any diet.
You should already be eating salmon already; the fish is chock full of heart-healthy omega-3’s. What’s more, a study in Clinical Nutrition Research found that eating salmon has a direct link to a healthier thyroid due to high iodine content. Small wonder that salmon is part of The Perfect Day of Eating.
One a day keeps the doctor away—especially if we talking about the health of your thyroid. A review in Clinical Nutrition Research found that frequent apple consumption was linked to a decreased risk of thyroid cancer. The reason? Nature’s favorite fruit happens to be packed with iodine. Speaking of apples, did you know Science Says There’s a Single Best Way To Wash an Apple?
Studies have also found that oranges can be linked to a decreased risk for thyroid cancer. Be careful, though, because many other citrus fruits have been found to have the opposite effect on your thyroid health. So if you feel a craving for some Vitamin C, stick to oranges.
Chicken is an excellent diet choice for a lot of reasons. For one, it’s a lean meat—a great source of protein. For another, it’s culinarily versatile; you can toss it into anything, from a salad to a quesadilla. And finally, according to research in the International Journal of Trichology, it’s full of zinc, a great nutrient for regulating thyroid hormone levels.
Most nuts have some amount of selenium, which you know by now as a thyroid-healthy nutrient. But almonds also happen to have a high amount of magnesium, which, according to a study in Metabolism Journal, can keep your thyroid working smooth as butter. (Or almond butter.)
It might be a myth that carrots help your eyes, but it’s no lie that they help your thyroid. Carrots contain high level of a micronutrient called beta-carotene, which is the body can convert into either retinol or an antioxidant. And according to a study in Cancer, there is positive correlation between people with high levels of beta-carotene and people with healthy thyroids.
As we mentioned, dairy is excellent for thyroid health. But milk does double duty: It’s a a great source of B12. And a study published in the Journal of Pakistan Medical Association found that B12 deficiencies were linked to thyroid hormone deficiencies. Plus, you get a healthy dose a calcium, too. (But you knew that.)
In addition to being both delicious and wildly popular (try walking around any hipster enclave without seeing a snazzy new oyster joint), oysters are full of zinc. And, according to research in the International Journal of Trichology, there’s a direct link between zinc levels and a healthy thyroid. Too little zinc can result in wildly skewed hormone levels.
Coconut oil is the rare fat that may actually have a positive effect on thyroid health. According to nutritionist Natalie Longo, coconut oil is a great thing to consume to help your thyroid stay healthy because of the unique fat content it has: Instead of increasing your LDL (or bad) cholesterol, it increases you HDL (or good) cholesterol.
Finally, Try Going Vegan
Even though a lot of thyroid-healthy foods are derived from animals and animal products, studies have shown that eating a vegan diet may also be effective. In fact, a 2013 study published in Nutrients found that people following a vegan diet less likely to develop hypothyroidism, a condition where your thyroid produces fewer hormones than it should. And for more ways to make sure your thyroid functions perfectly, learn the 20 Ways To Keep Your Thyroid Healthy.
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