If you have hypothyroidism, I’m sure someone must have definitely told you not to eat cauliflower and cabbage. There is a common belief that these foods cause swelling of the thyroid gland and harm it. If you’ve heard this too, read on to separate fact from fiction.
Hypothyroidism is a condition in which the thyroid gland cannot produce enough hormones. As a result, you may experience weight loss, hair fall, fatigue, depression, and more. While medications are necessary, a balanced diet speeds up the recovery process.
Adding foods that are good for your thyroid health and metabolism can reduce your symptoms. When it comes to diet, foods with gluten, sugar, and caffeine might trigger hypothyroidism. Some other foods like fresh fruits, vegetables, and nuts can fuel the recovery process. This is especially true for autoimmune thyroid disease.
In this blog, we will cover a food group called cruciferous vegetables. This group of veggies has been closely linked to thyroid function for a long time. Let’s understand why.
What are cruciferous vegetables?
When you think of cauliflower, cabbage, and radish, do they seem similar? Despite different sizes, shapes, and colors, all of these fall under the category of cruciferous vegetables. All of them belong to the same plant family.
Cruciferous vegetables include:
- brussels sprouts
- bok choy
Of these, cauliflower is becoming increasingly popular for daily use in a lot of cuisines. White cauliflower is the one that is most commonly used. Other variants such as green, purple, and orange cauliflower are also available. Even though the colors are different, the taste remains the same.
Why is cauliflower controversial when it comes to thyroid?
Cauliflowers are a nutritional powerhouse rich in fiber, antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals. If so, why are they not recommended for people with thyroid disease?
Let's review the facts.
The thyroid gland produces hormones with the help of iodine. Deficient iodine intake is one of the many causes of an underactive thyroid. This causes hypothyroidism.
So why do people believe that consuming cruciferous vegetables might mess with the thyroid gland? It is because these vegetables have goitrogens in them.
Goitrogens are substances that disrupt the production of thyroid hormones. Goitrogens reduce the absorption of iodine. Less iodine = less T3 and T4.
However, cooking these cruciferous vegetables can reduce the ill effects of goitrogens. It is completely safe to consume these veggies when cooked properly. Cauliflower can be added to your diet even if you are dealing with thyroid problems depending on your hormone levels and how controlled your disease is.
Jeevam Health doctors recommend consuming cruciferous vegetables when they are steamed for better absorption.
Here’s why you should be consuming cauliflower even when you have thyroid issues:
Diet plays a major role in helping your body recover from thyroid issues. Along with medications, a balanced diet with exercise is all required in your hypothyroidism treatment plan.
Food that strengthens and nourishes the body must be included in your diet. Cauliflower can be consumed in a moderate amount even when you have thyroid issues.
The following are the top 5 reasons to eat cauliflower to help your thyroid:
Aids weight loss
Cauliflower has high water content in it. One serving (100 grams) of cauliflower has a water content of 92%. Water-rich foods help you stay hydrated and cool your body naturally.
Cauliflower is a low-calorie food. Hence you can easily replace high-calorie foods such as rice and flour with cauliflower. While cauliflower alone cannot help you to lose weight, including it in your weight loss diet will aid in shedding those extra pounds.
Abnormal weight gain can cause health problems if not addressed. People dealing with hypothyroidism might suffer from weight gain along with other symptoms. You can include cauliflower for weight loss in your diet.
High in fiber
Cauliflower is rich in fiber, with nearly 3 grams of fiber in 1 cup. Consuming fiber-rich foods restore gut health and reduce inflammation. Fiber improves digestion and strengthens your immune system.
Another symptom that is common in people with thyroid is constipation. Including cauliflower and spinach can prevent constipation, inflammatory bowel disease, and other chronic diseases.
Free radicals are molecules that get released when your body turns food into energy. These free radicals are unstable and can cause illness, aging, and cancer. Antioxidants protect your cells from damage caused by free radicals by neutralizing them.
Cauliflower has sulforaphane, an antioxidant commonly found in cruciferous vegetables. This also gives it a slightly bitter taste.
A study shows that sulforaphane can prevent certain types of cancer and cardiac diseases. It has been found to suppress the growth of cancer cells. Sulforaphane particularly fights against prostate, colon, esophageal and pancreatic cancer.
Good source of choline – H3
Choline is an essential nutrient required for your body. But your body cannot produce choline beyond a certain amount. Hence, foods that contain choline are a must in your diet. Choline can be naturally found in cruciferous vegetables, nuts, and certain sea foods.
Among its multiple benefits is treating mental disorders. Choline has helped in treating anxiety, bipolar disorder, and mood swings.
Anxiety and depression are common symptoms of hypothyroidism. Therefore, consuming cauliflower and cruciferous vegetables can help you lower them.
Hypothyroidism can be caused because of two reasons: 1. Underactive thyroid 2. Hashimoto’s autoimmune thyroiditis. Most cases of hypothyroidism are due to Hashimoto's autoimmune condition.
Goitrogens inhibit the absorption of iodine. If you already have iodine deficiency, this can be very dangerous. If the underactive thyroid is not because of iodine deficiency, then it is safe to consume cooked cruciferous vegetables.
If you are suffering from Hashimoto's thyroiditis, then cauliflower will not harm your body.
Some tips to consider while including cruciferous vegetables in your diet:
- Consume it after cooking As said earlier, cruciferous veggies contain goitrogens. But these goitrogens become less harmful once you cook them. So always make sure to eat cooked cruciferous vegetables.
If you are adding cauliflower, make sure you steam it. If you are considering spinach, then first blanch it and then blend it to make a smoothie.
Natural sources of iodine Adding foods that are high in iodine might balance the iodine content if you are planning to eat cruciferous vegetables. This includes fish, sea foods, dairy products, and eggs.
Avoid bloating and gas Cruciferous vegetables have a complex carbohydrate called raffinose which is difficult to digest. Yet, one cannot miss the amazing health benefits of these veggies.
This carbohydrate can cause bloating and gas while you eat them. But do not worry. You can avoid bloating by following these steps:
Make sure your cruciferous vegetables are steamed or cooked properly.
Always chew the vegetables properly before swallowing. Avoid eating on the go.
Walk around for 10 minutes to aid digestion. This also avoids the trapping of gas inside your body.
Start small and notice how your body responds. Maintain the same portion. You can increase the quantity after consulting a doctor.
Following these steps can prevent bloating while eating cauliflower and other cruciferous vegetables.
How to include cauliflower in your diet?
Cauliflower is a very versatile vegetable. The first thing that comes to mind may be to steam it. However, cauliflower has actually been used to make everything from rice to pizza. Some interesting cauliflower recipes from the Jeevam health thyroid diet chart are,
1 big bowl of mixed vegetable soup - carrot\peas\cauliflower (Add 1 spoon olive oil) + 4 pcs black chana or green pea vegetable kebabs with green chutney
Tandoori vegetables (mushroom + broccoli + cauliflower + pineapple) marinate with tandoori masala + cashew or almond paste. Grill in over.
You can also try cauliflower rice, cauliflower hummus, and cauliflower mash. Avoid deep-fried cauliflower to avoid indigestion. These are a few healthy and yummy ways to use cauliflower.
Diet plays a significant role in the recovery of thyroid diseases. Yet one cannot choose a diet without knowing the root cause. Diet varies from person to person depending upon their body, symptoms, and metabolism. It is always better to plan your diet under the guidance of a nutritionist.
Cauliflower and other cruciferous vegetables promote metabolism and good health. These veggies can provide many health benefits when consumed at a moderate level. But these vegetables must be included only after examining the root cause and hormonal levels of your disease. Always consult a thyroid specialist to choose a proper diet according to your body.
Jeevam health doctors treat the disease by identifying the underlying cause. Once the root cause is identified, thyroid specialists suggest lifestyle changes and a personalized diet chart according to your body. We aim to reduce the dependency on medications and cure the thyroid permanently.