Our thyroid plays a huge role in functioning of the body. It produces hormones that regulate metabolism, mood, energy levels, heart rate, body temperature and blood pressure. Many health problems start emerging when our thyroid stops working optimally. Along with taking thyroid medication, you can boost your thyroid function by eating right food. Thyroid needs specific nutrients to function optimally. The first and foremost essential nutrient that is needed for optimal thyroid function is iodine. Other important nutrients you need for proper thyroid function are selenium, zinc, and iron.
Following 10 foods are best dietary sources of these essential nutrients. These foods are also high in nutrients like high quality protein, antioxidants and necessary vitamin needed for hormone production.
1. Sea Vegetables
Sea vegetables are good source of iodine. Seaweed has high concentration of iodine, a nutrient essential for production of thyroid hormone and for optimal thyroid function. Lack of iodine inhibits thyroid function. Sea vegetables are also high in potassium and protein. Include in your diet dulse seaweed, nori, Kombu, sea palm and wakame for nutritional benefit of iodine, fiber, vitamin A, B, E, C and K and calcium (1).
Fish is another great source of dietary iodine. Deep sea fish like cod and haddock contains highest densities of dietary iodine. Tuna, Salmon sardines are also excellent choice. Omega-3 fatty acids found in fish is also beneficial for thyroid health. Unmanaged hypothyroidism increases the risk of heart disease. Omega-3 found in fatty fish contributes to healthy heart, reduces inflammation, and increases immunity. Fish also contains nutrient selenium essential for thyroid health. It supports the conversion of thyroid hormone T4 into T3 (the usable form) (2).
Egg ranks the top, when we are looking for foods that help us to balance the hormone and support thyroid function. The thyroid supporting nutrient the egg provides is protein, B vitamins, cholesterol and minerals. It is considered the best food for thyroid as a whole contains about 16% of iodine and not less than 20% of selenium, two essential nutrients you need to keep your thyroid functioning smoothly. Both egg white and egg yolks are excellent source of selenium. B vitamins also help to balance blood sugar and the energy levels. So eat whole eggs instead of eating only egg whites, unless your doctor has restricted you (3).
Research shows that people with underactive thyroid are usually vitamin D deficient. Low-fat milk and dairy particularly yogurt, milk and cheese are fortified with vitamin D and also contain calcium, iodine and protein. Yogurt being naturally rich in vitamin D acts as a shield for thyroid. Not getting enough vitamin D, increases the risk of thyroid disease. Yogurt is also high in probiotics which helps to balance good bacteria and keep digestive system healthy and boosting immunity help thyroid function optimally (4).
Beans are another versatile food with loads of vitamin, minerals, antioxidants and complex carbohydrates and fiber that will help your thyroid to function effectively. Eating beans will provide your body energy, fight constipation (5).
Nuts are great source of selenium, protein, vitamins and minerals and fiber and can be eaten as snack anytime. Almonds can provide good amount of nutrients to work thyroid efficiently like they are high in protein, selenium, zinc and B vitamins. Brazil nuts are the richest source of selenium which is needed for converting thyroxin to T3. But restrict the portion size as nuts are high in fat; eat 2-3 Brazil nut and a small handful of other nuts every day (6).
7. Dark Green Leafy Vegetables
Green leafy vegetables like kale, spinach, Swiss chars, collard, mustard, turnip greens are excellent source of B vitamins, iron, which are needed for creation of iron. Besides this they also provide vitamin A, C and D and mineral like potassium and magnesium needed not just for thyroid health but for overall health (7).
8. Whole Grains
Whole-grain cereals, rice, bread, pasta are loaded with nutrients along with fiber which help keeps functioning thyroid health and aid in regularity of bowel movement which is often found compromised in individuals with thyroid (8).
9. Fresh Fruits And Vegetables
Eating fresh fruits are great way to get the required antioxidants and nutrients and best way to keep weight in control. One of major symptom of hypothyroidism is weight gain. Frits like cherries, blueberries, oranges, and grapefruit will not only provide you with nutrients for optimal thyroid health but help to keep your heart healthy (9).
Oysters are known to be a best dietary source of zinc-which is one of the essential nutrient bodies, needs to activate thyroid hormone. Deficiencies of this mineral can lead to sluggish metabolism (10).