Busting The Goitrogen Myth



One of the questions I am frequently asked on my facebook page as well as the comments here on the blog is “Aren’t you worried about eating goitrogens with autoimmune thyroid disease? My (insert alternative health practitioner here) told me that if I eat them, they will cause a goiter!”. A lot of people out there are living in fear of eating nutritious foods like broccoli, cabbage, sweet potatoes, and strawberries.

I’m here to convince you that eating goitrogens, in an regular quantities, is not harmful to you if you have autoimmune thyroid disease. In fact, I think you could be doing yourself harm, nutritionally speaking, by excluding them from your diet.

What are “goitrogens”?

Goitrogens are substances that affect the thyroid’s uptake of iodine, thereby interfering with the function of the gland. In addition to foods, there are many medications and chemicals that are known to affect this process.

Here is a list of common goitrogenic foods:

-Brussels sprouts
-Collard greens
-Flax seed
-Mustard greens
-Pine nuts
-Sweet potatoes

Although there are many foods not included on the autoimmune protocol in this list – flax seed, pine nuts, peanuts, and soy, among others, most of them are foods that are integral to this diet, like sweet potatoes and cruciferous vegetables.

Why would anyone avoid goitrogens?

It is a myth passed around in the alternative health community that goitrogens cause a goiter, which is an enlargement of the thyroid gland. As Dr. Kharrazian points out in his most recent article, goiters are not caused by iodine deficiency or by eating goitrogens – they are caused by the inflammation from chronic autoimmune thyroid disease (Hashimoto’s). In order to get rid of a goiter, a person needs to address the autoimmune thyroid disease, not remove goitrogens from their diet.

Why you should include goitrogens in your diet

Some of the vegetables that are classified as goitrogens also happen to be very nutritious foods and have qualities that would make us want to go out of our way to include them in our diets. Cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, cabbage, and kale are known for their anti-cancer and antioxidant properties. Root vegetables like sweet potatoes, turnips, and rutabaga provide a rich source of complex carbohydrate, which can be difficult to obtain on a grain-free diet. Cruciferous vegetables as well as sweet potatoes and strawberries contain carotenoids, which are precursors to vitamin A. In addition, a lot of the fruits and vegetables on this list are a good source of the B vitamins, vitamin C, vitamin K, calcium, magnesium, potassium, zinc and sulfur. By avoiding these foods, you may be setting yourself up for nutritional deficiencies.

Sarah Ballantyne over at The Paleo Mom has written a fantastic article on her blog about this topic, and her research indicates that consuming these foods in moderate quantities actually supports thyroid function. Sarah advises that as thyroid patients, we should make sure we are sufficient in zinc, iodine, and selenium, which is great advice (although iodine supplementation can be problematic – more on that in a future blog post!)

Lastly – these foods taste great, and they are an integral part of the autoimmune protocol (besides the few that are not included, especially soy). Many people get great pleasure from eating cruciferous vegetables, root vegetables like sweet potatoes, and fruits like pears and strawberries.

My Experience

Back when I was first diagnosed with Hashimoto’s disease and was thrust into the world of alternative treatments, I avoided goitrogens religiously for a couple of months. I noticed no change, besides sadness for not being able to eat some of my favorite fruits and vegetables. On top of the autoimmune protocol, I found it extremely restrictive.

So I leave it at this – go ahead and eat your goitrogens, provided they are foods that are also allowed on the autoimmune protocol!


Have I convinced you that goitrogens are safe? I’d love to know your thoughts in the comments!




About Mickey Trescott

Mickey Trescott is a cook and one of the bloggers behind Autoimmune Paleo. After recovering from her own struggle with both Celiac and Hashimoto’s disease, adrenal fatigue, and multiple vitamin deficiencies, Mickey started to write about her experience to share with others and help them realize they are not alone in their struggles. She is a certified Nutritional Therapy Practitioner by the Nutritional Therapy Association, and is the author of The Autoimmune Paleo Cookbook, a guide and recipe book for the autoimmune protocol, and AIP Batch Cook, a video-based batch cooking program. You also can find her on Instagram.


  • Lisa Gibson says

    Whew, good to know. I was bummed about having to cut so much. Quick question, does hypothyroidism always (or the majority of the time) lead to Hashimoto’s? Just curious. Thanks for your always informative articles.

    • Mickey says

      Hi Lisa,
      I wouldn’t say that hypothyroidism leads to Hashimoto’s, but Hashimoto’s is usually the cause of hypothyroidism. Dr. K states that 90% of hypothyroidism is caused by Hashimoto’s – most people don’t know this when they get their diagnosis, because doctors do not usually check for antibodies (nor do they care that it is an autoimmune disease, because there is nothing that they can do about it). If you have been diagnosed with hypothyroidism, I highly recommend being tested for TPO antibodies, which will tell you if you have Hashimoto’s. Hope it helps!

      • Barbara Weiland says

        I was so excited to get your book, but then needed to return it. I have low vision. Had the print been a tad bit larger, and a space and a half between each line, I would have been able to keep it. The photos in your book were gorgeous & huge. Can you contact me about a pdf version? This is the format I used in school a few years ago.

        Sincerely, Barbara Weiland

        • Mickey Trescott says

          Sorry to hear! If you’d like to pick up an ebook copy there is a link in the sidebar of the site. Good luck!

  • Awesome article, Mickey. I love that Dr. K & The Paleo Mom both wrote about this recently. You summarized it beautifully. Maybe this myth can finally be put to rest.

    • Mickey says

      Thanks, Eileen. Despite their articles, I still get asked this question nearly every day, and I’m sure I haven’t seen the end of it :)

  • Vicki says

    I was avoiding goitrogens for my thyroid. I wasn’t too rigid about it, I ate raw spinach or cabbage slaw if I was hungry for them, for example, but they were raw. NOW I find out from somewhere that goitrogens are okay in moderation if they are COOKED, like broccoli — they won’t mess with your med then. It is my understanding that goitrogens interfere with the body’s ability to ABSORB THYROID MEDICINE, not actually CAUSE a goiter (except secondary to not getting the med’s effect). You didn’t mention raw or cooked — just “eat them, it’s a myth.” ?? Now I’m thoroughly confused!! Please clarify — Raw, cooked, any way, any amounts, they are fine?? Is that right?? Does this affect every BODY the same way?

    • Mickey says

      It is true that cooking foods lessens their goitrogenic effect. I didn’t mention it in my article, because I don’t believe it to be a problem to eat goitrogens, even raw. If you read my referenced articles, you will find no mention of goitrogens affecting the absorbtion of thyroid medication – I think that is also a myth (although, if you come across any scientific evidence showing it, I will gladly take a look at it!).

      As far as quantity, you should be fine as long as you are eating *normal* amounts of these foods. This does not mean juicing cabbage or eating a goitrogen-only vegetarian diet. I don’t like making specific recommendations in this department because everyone is different. You need to decide for yourself how much vegetables you want to eat in comparison to healthy proteins and fats.

      I hope that helps clear things up for you!


  • Jeanne Huelskamp says

    I have a goiter. I have been tested and my thyroid is on the high side of normal and close to being hyper however I don’t have any symptoms. I have also been tested for TPO antibodies and I do not have TPO antibodies. If I did I would have Grave’s. I have read MANY articles about eating goitrogen veggies and I have gotten VERY conflicting messages. I LOVE these veggies and I use to eat them everyday. I do not eat them raw anymore. I have cut back because when I do eat a lot of them I start to feel a lump in my throat.

    • Mickey says

      Hi Jeanne,
      I am sorry to hear about your goiter. You should click through to Dr. Kharrazian’s article – he advocates for treating the reason behind the goiter, not avoiding goitrogens. I would look for a functional medicine doctor to get you some tests and find out the reason behind your inflammation.


    • Donna says

      Thank you for your very informative comment. I too have a goiter; noticed it 6 months ago. After many hours of reading & research trying to answer the questions, you answered it. If a TPO test is positive, it’s Grave’s. I haven’t been to a doctor yet. I did have a Thyroid Panel done & I had TPO & TAA antibodies on the result. Thank you so much for your comment!

  • Matty says

    Totally agree that these foods may in fact support thyroid health, thanks so much for
    MYTH BUSTING. With so much info out there, we all get confused. I had Undiagnosed hypothyroidism for years, had to beg my doc to prescribe Armour, which helped yet did not entirely resolve some Hypothyroid symptoms. WHAT DID WORK and continues to make me feel great is a healthy eating program, I aim for 70% veggies, including a little fruit and 30% protein. This has given me amazing energy that at 65 is a pure blessing. Eat your greens people and use common sense, God made them for a reason.

  • Gayle says

    Scientific evidence is not necessary when I hear so many actual patient testimonies Eating goitrogenic foods causes pain and pressure on my thyroid. That is a fact for me. If I ever have a hyper day instead of the usual hypo I just need to go buy a cabbage. Just cutting it up causes problems, from the raw juice. I do enjoy goitrogenic foods cooked though but minimally.

    • Mickey says

      I know many people believe that goitrogens contribute to their symptoms. I also know that there is scientific evidence that when a patient believes in a treatment or therapy, it has more of a chance of working. The mind is more powerful than we give it credit for in relation to how we feel. That isn’t to say that it is all in your head – if you feel better avoiding them, I think you should go for it. My point is that there is no science backing up that they are harmful for thyroid patients in normal quantities, and I think the community deserves to know this. What does or does not work for each particular body is highly individual. You may be sensitive to cabbage, for some other reason – does the same thing happen when you eat sweet potatoes or strawberries?


    • Donna says

      As I was not affected by “gastric symptoms” from eating these foods, I do not usually eat these type vegetables raw as I never like the “crunchy and fresh taste”. Could some of the pressure be a gastric problem of eating them raw and not digesting as well as the cooked version?

  • Elaine says

    How about fermented cruciferous vegetables, such as sauerkraut? I have Hashimoto’s and I’ve been consuming fermented veggies every day. I don’t have much though, maybe only a few tablespoons of it.

  • stephanie says

    I just came across your article. Thank you. I have been reading so much over the last month that I am just really confused. I have thyroid issues for years however my new doc has said i have hashimoto. I know I need to change a lot of things in my diet but it’s so hard to find a starting place. You made me realize I have to do what’s right for me thanks

  • Tina says

    I am going to respectfully disagree.
    When I have anything goitrogenic, I feel like I have eaten McDonald’s. I thought that I might have been just dreaming this up in my head, but one day, last summer, I was eating a couple of peaches, and that tell tale sign of fever, and feeling a general malaise came over me. I couldn’t figure it out. “I hadn’t had any goitrogens; why do I feel so poorly?”
    I hadn’t realized that peaches were indeed goitrogens.
    I avoid them completely.

    • Mickey says

      There are many reasons why you could react to a food – I am definitely a believer in the fact that all of us do better or worse with certain foods. You may have a particular reaction to these foods, and if so I do not think you should eat them.

      The research does not support the recommendation that everyone with a thyroid problem should be avoiding these nutritious foods, and that is what I aim to point out in my article.

      I’m happy you made the connection that they don’t make you feel well – so many people don’t even get that far!


  • Linda says

    Hi Mickey

    I have had Hashimoto’s for 13 years and it’s only in the last couple of years that I have eaten cruciferous foods because I originally thought they should be avoided. Since eating them again, I have actually been able to reduce my meds twice!! Proof enough for me

    Linda xxx

  • Katie says

    Hi! I came across your blog while searching for information on goitrogen and nitriles (all news to me)… But just like I haven’t eliminated nightshades or gluten, I’m probably not going to eliminate foods with these characteristics. I’ve really changed my diet around in the past couple years (no additives, preservatives, synthetic vitamins, gmo’s, etc. and eating mostly organic) and I am still slowly tweaking it. I’ve discovered fermentation, the art of soaking nuts, grains, seeds, legumes, etc., and now this. I’m extremely overwhelmed, particularly because I suffer from lupus and, I am almost certain, fibromyalgia that has not once gone into remission. I have a really hard time keeping my house/kitchen clean, let alone cooking, soaking, and fermenting in the tiny area I have available. What do you recommend for someone who is just learning about all these negative properties of whole foods (i.e. goitrogens/nitriles, nightshades, phytic acid, gluten…) and is having a hard time deciding what to eat when they barely have enough energy to cook anything? I’ve thought about elimination diets, but I don’t know what would even be left on the starting list.

    • Mickey says

      Katie, I know how overwhelming this all is! I would start with gluten and dairy free, and be 100% strict. Once you get in the habit of that, try and transition to Paleo. I would do without all of the soaking and sprouting and just choose not to eat grains–I think those of us with autoimmunity do better without them, and they are a lot of work to prepare so that they are nutritious and easy to digest. Have you looked into batch cooking some bigger meals once a week, like soups or stews? If you have a big pot, you can make extra, and freeze for portions during the week.

      Remember, this is a process, and most of us don’t go all in at once. Wishing you luck!


  • Amanda says

    As Jeanne did, I must also respectfully disagree. I regularly have my thyroid tested. It is functioning absolutely fine, but I do have a goiter. There is no treatment because any type of medication will throw my levels off into hyper or hypothyroidism. I cannot eat any of the above mentioned foods, although I highly enjoy them, because of the way they directly affect my thyroid. I too feel as though I have a lump in my throat that can last for days with certain foods (like bok choy and kale). Although these foods may not be physically harmful to me, I will continue to listen to my body when it is telling me what I have eaten is making me uncomfortable.

  • Susan says

    Thanks for the great post. Here’s a weird question. I started eating Paleo about 1.5 years ago. I have MS and saw Dr Wahls TED talk. I’m a terrible cook, so tend to eat the same things over & over, and I eat TONS of broccoli, spinach, and kale. Also, I think I don’t get enough iodine becUse I never eat sea weed like Dr. Wahls recommends.. Over that past 1.5 years my reverse T3 and TSH have been climbing up and my T3 has been going down. Thyroid antibodies are negative. Lately, I’ve been thinking my thyroid looks enlarged (but I keep thinking “nah, your just imagining it)”. Do you think it’s possible to eat so much of these foods that a person can develop thyroid problems due to the diet I described? Thanks Mickey. Your the bomb!!

    • Mickey says

      I think it is possible, but you would have to be eating a LOT of these foods (I think the Dr. K article I referenced goes into more detail about this). Have you thought about incorporating more iodine-rich foods, like seaweed and fish into your diet, and cutting back on the greens to see if anything changes?

      Good luck!


  • mary tegtmeyer says

    Thanks so much for your book so clear and beautiful I am turning 60 weigh 190 ten lbs down not eating the things that make me sick. No energy because just starting sleep apnia device .Hypogysimea gets me if I don,t have enough protien or starch will that make weight loss impossible I love the veggies you were talking about and batch cook not to say oh there is nothing made .So done with feel ill everyday,thanks again

  • Helene says

    Thanks for this post. I have a multinudolar goitre and have been undergoing 2-yearly check ups for a slightly hyperactive thyroid gland for nearly 15 years now. I eat lots of broccoli (had a lovely raw broccoli salad with a New England Pot Roast today and will have steamed broccoli with fish tomorrow evening) and vegs and switched to a mainly Paleo diet last year. I have never felt better in my life (weight, energy, concentration, happiness…) and am curious as what my check up will show in 1 year’s time!
    Have found 2 other links that are relevant to people with Graves’:

  • ChelseaH says

    This is great news! I started reading about the need for those of us with autoimmune thyroid disease to avoid these fruits/ vegetables and was resisting removing them from my diet. I’m glad to know others are feeling the same way!

  • Tiffany Mladinich says

    I have Hashimotos and goitrogen foods greatly bother me. My thyroid swells within a half hour after eating a goitrogen food. Goitrogens inhibit iodine uptake, and therefore suppress the thyroid. This is not opinion, but anatomical fact. Not a problem for some, but seriously problematic for others. It even says that soy interferes with thyroid medication right on the bottle. Too many other nutritious foods that are not problematic for me. I will avoid them as long as I have this reaction…and so should others that experience it. Hypothyroidism is not a one size fits all.

    • Mickey says

      I don’t doubt you have a reaction, but also consider that it could not be because of the goitrogens, it could be one of the many other compounds in these foods. Check out both of the articles I reference, which were written by experts in autoimmune and thyroid disorders, who have come to the conclusion that the research does not support that theory. I don’t think it is wise to recommend that everyone stop eating these otherwise nutritious vegetables, although I am sorry they do not work for you.


  • […] to have healthy thyroid function. Cruciferous vegetables have gotten a lot of bad press about being goitrogenic, but they are actually much less so than millet or soy. Having enough iodine (gotten through kelp, […]

  • Danielle says

    Hello Miceky,
    Curious to hear your thoughts on soy. Would you agree that even organic soy (milk, tofu etc) interfers with thryoid function and the effectiveness of medication?

    • Mickey says

      I’m not sure that I would recommend avoiding soy because of its goitrogenic effects, but there are many other reasons not to consume it, the main one being that it is a powerful endocrine disruptor. I would not consume it with or without a thyroid condition!


  • Millie says

    Hi, I have hypothyroidism (hashimoto’s) and it runs in my family. I make green smoothies with spinach and kale. I do add about a cup or two of spinach and kale per serving. Am I using too much ? I also love strawberries and peanut butter. I am not too worried about consuming strawberries or peanut butter because I do not eat those too frequently.

    • Mickey says

      Hi Millie,
      Its impossible for me to know if you are using too much–I would listen to feedback from your body. If you don’t feel your best, perhaps try going without for a couple of weeks to see if there are any changes. Hope it helps!


  • Sharyn says

    I read in the Wiki article on goitrogens that avocado and saturated fats can stimulate thyroid function, so I will continue to enjoy these foods with a little avocado or grassfed butter :) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Goitrogen

  • Misha says

    Thanks for this post. It is always good to have varying sources of information. I found another article at World’s Healthiest Foods that provides both an explanation of goitrogens and claimed impacts on health, as well as references scientific articles that do not support avoidance of foods or substances with goitrogenic effects for those with thyroid diseases: http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=george&dbid=250
    I also wish to put my two cents in support of your response to Tina to pay attention to what works for you as an individual. Sometimes what works for several others will not work for you. My partner has been dealing with auto-immune eye inflammation for two years. I found out about the AIP, purchased your book, and supported him by joining in on the AIP diet. He responded positively to it with much needed weight loss and some improvement in vision, while for me I felt sluggish the entire diet and did not lose any weight but rather gained some in addition to weight I’d gained since we moved about 3 years ago. Granted I did not have a diagnosed autoimmune condition, but in general I thought the emphasis on veggies (which supported my personal eating tendencies) would be positive. Up until we moved, I was either a vegetarian or very occasional heavy meat eater, and ate a traditional Indonesian diet including fermented soy products, lots of greens including cruciferous veggies, rice, and low to no gluten. Then, just 4 months after the AIP experiement, I was diagnosed with Hashimoto’s. I’ve returned to my traditional diet in addition to starting on low dosage of T4, and am seeing positive physical results. We’ll see soon if the tests confirm whether my feeling better goes hand in hand with improvements of TOP antibodies, TSH, rT3 etc. I believe that the AIP can and does work wonders for some. But, it may not work for everyone. The best thing to do is to try and and see if it works for you, and if not, make some adjustments and try other things until you find what works for you.
    All the best!

    • Mickey says

      Thanks for adding your thoughts Misha–I don’t believe in one-size-fits-all diet prescriptions, and I’m happy you experimented and found something that works for you. :)

      Wishing you the best,


  • Misha says


    Thanks for this post. It is always good to have varying sources of information, and this summary helps provide a counter perspective to a lot of the information out there. I found another article at World’s Healthiest Foods, titled “An Up-to-Date Look at Goitrogenic Substances in Food,” that references several scientific articles that do not support total avoidance of foods or substances with goitrogenic effects for those with thyroid diseases. That article focuses less on goiters, and more on general impacts on thyroid function.

    I also want to thank you for your continued response (and in previous posts) to pay attention to what works for *you as an individual*, that AIP is perhaps not for everyone. Sometimes what works for several others will not work for you without adjustments or at all. My partner has been dealing with auto-immune eye inflammation for two years. I found out about the AIP, purchased your book, and supported him by joining for two months on the AIP to see if it would help with some weight gain and fatigue and reveal some allergens (other than dairy which I already knew about). He responded positively with much needed weight loss and some improvement in vision, while for me I felt even more sluggish the entire diet and gained weight in addition to weight I’d gained since we moved about 3 years ago. Granted I did not have a diagnosed autoimmune condition, but in general I thought the diet would be positive. It was actually easy since I avoided processed foods, ate mostly vegetables, and tended only to eat some grains (such as rice and corn). Prior to our move, I was either a vegetarian or very occasional meat eater, and ate a traditional Indonesian diet including fermented soy products, lots of greens including cruciferous veggies, rice, and low to no gluten or dairy. Then, just 4 months after the AIP experiment, I was diagnosed with Hashimoto’s. I’ve returned to my traditional diet in addition to starting on low dosage of T4, and am seeing positive physical results. We’ll see soon if tests confirm whether my feeling better goes hand-in-hand with improvements of TOP antibodies, TSH, rT3 etc. I will be willing to try the AIP again with some modifications if my test results and subsequent adjustments do not improve things. I believe that the AIP can and does work wonders for some, but agree it may not work for everyone. Thanks again for the information you share, as well as your support for those working on these health issues.

    All the best!

  • Carmelle says

    No my gosh… I needed this article. I just had a friend tell me that I needed to ax kale from my diet because of my hypothyroidism/Hashimoto’s, and I flipped. It’s in my mid-morning smoothie everyday and has been for a couple years; and now I’m being told it could be hurting me. I took to the internet and almost croaked seeing all the information that appeared to back up the idea that goitrogens cause problems for thyroid patients. I lost HOURS of my day, trying to figure out how in the world I was going to be able to keep living my paleo life when the food I eat is bad for me.

    I needed this. Thank you. Thank you so SO much.

    • Mickey says

      Happy it helps you! Be careful as the goitrogens can be overdone (especially in liquid form), but for the most part I think they are well tolerated.
      Good luck!


  • […] excess estrogen from the body, something my body desperately needs. We are even starting to bust the myth that people with thyroid disorders should avoid […]

  • J says

    Mickey, what do you think about the results of these studies (that show a goiter increase in animals fed kale): http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/00288233.1958.10431532#.VFQg8hYgH-q

    Here’s some more info to look over (follow the links within the article): http://huntgatherlove.com/content/just-kale-me-how-your-kale-habit-slowly-destroying-your-health-and-world

  • Jen says

    Hi. I eat a lot of vegetebales. Have them everyday.’ I would also steam/cool them all the time. But last few months was probably having 6 servings of veggies a day. I am totally healthy and have no thyroid problems at all. Eating a lot vegetables cant just make my thyroid stop functioning correctly when its always worked right? Because obviously everyone eats veggies everyday and they are good for you. And i have no history of thyroid problems in my family. I think i am just a hypocondriac lol

    • Mickey says

      I don’t think it is a problem for a healthy person to eat 6 cups of veggies–in fact, Terry Wahls recommends 9 cups for her patients. If you ever don’t feel your best, then it is time to look into things a little further. Wishing you luck!


  • Always such insightful information. I noticed after going on AIP for 5 months, my symptoms have significantly progressed. I began eating many more goitrogenic vegetables on this diet, of course. And I noticed if I ate raw kale and such, my body would freak out.

    After a battery of tests, I was found to have cryptosporidium, activated Epstein-Barre and possibly Lyme (low CD57 NK). But most recently, my doctor found low T3, low iodine and totally normal everything else, ruling out Hashimoto’s, Grave’s, RA, etc. So I’ve been diagnosed with hypothyroidism due to low iodine. I’ve read it’s rare to have this without Hashi’s, but my TPO is totally normal.

    My question is, is hypothyroidism without Hashimoto’s considered autoimmune? And in the Paleo Mom’s article, she mentions the importance of restricting these vegetables when a thyroid condition is due to low iodine. What are your thoughts on that, or alternate vegetables, amounts? Thank you so much!

    • Mickey says

      Hi Lea,
      The goitrogenic activity of these foods, in an iodine deficient state is well documented. Hypothyroidism without Hashimoto’s is not usually autoimmune, although one can have Hashimoto’s without antibodies (diagnosed with an ultrasound). I think if a person is deficient in iodine, that must be dealt with to restore thyroid function, and these foods may need to be restricted until that happens. I’d work with a qualified doc or nutritionist on this one.

      Hope it helps!


  • mel d says

    I limit goitrogens because they suppress my metabolism. I haven’t read all the comments but believe you did not mention this directly in the article above? .So in other words, AIP-approved goitrogens like cruciferous veggies make me tired and make my hair fall out. So I tend to load up on them a couple days a week. But I’m very interested in ways to boost my thyroid, and reluctant to try dessicated thyroid because some think it can throw off the endocrine system more and make one dependent on supplemental thyroid hormone. Any thoughts on that, Mickey? 😉

    • Mickey says

      Hi Mel,
      Goitrogen content is not the only reason why a person would react to these foods. Do you react to sweet potatoes as well as kale? You may be sensitive to cruciferous veggies unrelated to the fact that they are goitrogens. I would avoid any food that causes your symptoms to worsen.

      I do not believe in denying thyroid medication if a person is low in thyroid hormone. This is an important part of a healthy metabolism, and many people with autoimmune thyroid disease have to take replacement hormone for life.

      Hope it helps!


  • Katherine says

    I personally feel that eating a lot of kale, Bok choy and sweet potatoes caused my thryroid to crash a year ago. I had adrenal fatigue for years and was getting really tired of being sick & tired. So I decided to eat as healthy as I possibly could, and I figured that involved lots of kale & Bok Choy salads. I had no knowledge of goitergens and never imagined the supposed healthiest foods could actually harm my thyroid. I ate a little soy on top of it all, and then my thyroid crashed to the point where I could barely get out of bed for days. I did some research and figured out what was making me so sick. I strictly eliminated goitergens from my diet, ate a lot of steak and raw milk(has iodine) and my body made a dramatic turnaround without any meds at all. Now if I eat those foods occasionally they don’t have a dramatic effect on me (although haven’t tried kale or Bok choy again). I can eat peanut butter and the goitergenic fruits without any noticeable problems, but I don’t eat them daily. Interesting thing is that I don’t really like most goitergenic foods and never have. My parents used to force me to eat broccoli as a child and I couldn’t stand it. I feel like my body knows what it needs to avoid to be healthy and I am very sensitive to the bitter taste in some of those veggies. So I feel like every person needs to learn their own body and what works well for them. But if you do have thyroid problems it’s worth at least trying to cut out goitrogenic foods for awhile to see if you improve on your own without needing to resort to meds. No matter how amazing those foods might be at preventing cancer or anything else, its just not worth it if they damage your thyroid which is incredibly important to overall health.

    • Mickey Trescott says

      Hi Katherine,
      It sounds like you were iodine deficient when you felt like goitrogens were affecting you–which is the condition that research shows goitrogens can be harmful. I totally agree with you that we all need to experiment and find out what works for us individually. I wrote this article because I did not want people to assume these foods should be off limits for all thyroid patients, because they are a healthy addition to the diet for most.

      Wishing you continued success on your journey!


  • […] Busting The Goitrogen Myth This was interesting to me. With my history of thyroid problems, I’ve been careful with goitrogens, not by avoiding them, but by making sure they are cooked. […]

  • Deana says

    Hi Mickey. Very insightful information. I have struggled with thyroid issues for years then did acupuncture and my thyroid went back to normal 3.65 range. Then just recently I tested positive for the thyroid antibodies ( Hashimotos) I am a little overwhelmed by all the information and diet protocols. I have mostly changed to organic foods, eliminated grains, gluten and sugar. I love lots of cruciferous vegetables and sweet potatoes. Is it safe for me to eat baked sweet potatoes (1medium) every day? Also I make fruit smoothies with bluberries, cherries, bananas and flax with cinnamon and protein powder every morning. Is there an issue with flax meal and high quality whey protein powder on AIP diet? I have seen on many websites to eliminate nuts, seeds and limit coconut except coconut oil. Your thoughts?
    Thanks for your help.

  • Smoke-Free For Nine Years—and Counting! | Z to Z Hypothyroid says

    […] I finally had a physical reason for a doctor to check my antibodies. *****I am fully aware of the controversy surrounding “goitrogens” and how they can potentially lower thyroid function. I do not claim anything other than what I know […]

  • […] For Paleo Diets – Nuzest Is is Primal? 10 Foods Scrutinised – Mark’s Daily Apple Goitrogens – Why You Don’t Need To Avoid Them – Autoimmune Paleo Casein – Wikipedia Pros and Cons of Egg Protein Powder – Super Human Coach Hemp […]

  • […] you’re a Hashimoto’s sufferer, just go easy on proportions (as with anything) and read this article for […]

  • Arletta says

    I don’t know about with an autoimmune thyroid disorder. My thyroid was tested by two doctors. One said it was not diseased but something was definitely making it act up and I could not be giving medication of any sort to help balance things out. The other one said that the first doctor was using old charts and should have used the new ones, then, giving me medication to help balance things out.

    They both told me to avoid soy, broccoli, cabbage and cauliflower. I found out I am about deathly allergic to soy. If I have it in any quantity, I balloon up so bad I can barely move and have to rush to get allergy pills down my throat before it closes up too much to medicate myself. And, it definitely enlarges my thyroid for weeks.

    If I eat cabbage, cauliflower or broccoli, even in limited amounts, even cooked, it affects my thyroid in much the same way, but, to a lesser extent.

    So, for me, it is definitely not a myth that I should such foods. Up until tonight, I had no idea that so many other foods should have been on the list.

    Now, I will say that I have not experienced this sort of trouble when eating strawberries, at least to any noticeable degree, but, even though I may eat several at a time, I hardly ever get to eat them.

    I do know that I spend a great deal of time with my thyroid giving me that stuffy-throated feeling, where I have trouble getting enough oxygen to be able to exercise at all. But, it does go away, sometimes, and, those times, I can now see, are the times I am not eating any of this stuff!

    Oh, how I would like to believe you, because, I love some of these foods very much. But, I can’t see what you are saying is true. Maybe … for people on medication … or, maybe for people who have already found some other way to balance their hormones and who, now, just have to worry about things getting unbalanced, again. But, for me, I definitely have to avoid certain foods and now that I have a longer list of possible reasons I feel crappy 24/7, I might find I have to avoid more. Thanks for that, anyway.

    • Mickey Trescott says

      Hi Arletta,
      I too suffer from an autoimmune thyroid condition, and have no problem with these foods eaten in moderation. Of course, no one person’s experience means a prescription for all–but I do think there is more too people having issues with these vegetables than the goitrogen myth.

      It sounds to me, since you are only reacting to cruciferous vegetables, and not non-cruciferous ones (like strawberries) that maybe you are reacting for another reason? This is a common food sensitivity, as is soy.

      I definitely recommend avoiding anything that doesn’t make you feel great! But I don’t recommend everyone avoid perfectly healthy greens because of some rumor their doctor told them. We need these nutrients!

      Wishing you the best,


  • Dianne says

    Being a year old into thyroid disease (Hashimoto’s) I recently had an ultra sound done of my thyroid which showed positive for nodules. My first thought was cancer but after more thought I remembered that my grandmother had a goiter the size of an orange on her throat so I’ll assume that will be my case. I have been following Izabella Wentz’s book, Root Cause, where she advises green smoothies once a day while staying gluten, dairy and soy free, so I thought what the heck. For the last 3 weeks I’ve become addicted to green smoothies consisting of mostly spinach, asparagus, cukes, bananas, flax, coconut and almond milk. Unfortunately, I started loosing hair by the handfuls which totally perplexed me as I thought I was eating all the right stuff. Then I ran across an article saying that flax and spinach are both goitrogenic, especially when taken in abundance raw. So, steer me right if you will, perhaps for some people, eating goitrogenic food is not all that great of a thing? So now I’m loosing the flax and spinach. I eat regular lettuce and lean toward chia seeds, at least until I can figure out the root cause. Unfortunately, this is a lonely journey as medical care is scarce.

    • Mickey Trescott says

      Hi Dianne,
      Sorry to hear of your experience, but do understand that there are many compounds in foods and you may not be reacting to the goitrogens. Spinach is high in oxalates, and a lot of people are sensitive to seeds such as flax. I don’t doubt you could be sensitive to these foods, but blaming it all on goitrogens and avoiding greens the rest of your life isn’t healthy either. Hope you find out a solution!

  • Brandy says

    Eat anything you want…belief is the law, my will makes it so.

  • […] Without drawing out another entire blog post, the short version is this: there is NO GOOD EVIDENCE that drinking green smoothies will wreck your thyroid or damage your health in any way, under normal circumstances in a person of average health. [for more indepth discussions on this, see source 1 and source 2] […]

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