I get asked these question a lot by my patients: “What are the food that I should avoid if I have goiter?”

“i’ve read online that i should avoid cassava, kale, broccoli, cabbage.

” Should I eat a lot of iodine rich food?”

There is just soooo much data online that it gets confusing especially because what one website says is allowed, is suddenly advised to be avoided in another website.

First let us discuss goitrogens. Goitrogens are substances that disrupt the production of thyroid hormones by interfering with iodine uptake in the thyroid gland. Some goitrogenic foods are include Brussel sprouts, cassava, turnips, radishes,cabbage, kale, broccoli and cauliflower. Goitrogens are thought to cause thyroid enlargement because interference with iodine uptake results in decrease in production of thyroid hormones resulting in a negative feedback to the brain resulting in an increase in the thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH). If the thyroid cant keep up with the increase in TSH, it will grow bigger trying to produce hormones, resulting in goiter.

However, when you analyze it, the said “goitrogens” have so many health benefits that outweigh the risks when taking them. Furthermore, when you cook these vegetables, it will decrease their “goitrogenic potential”. So what I usually advise my patients is that it is ok to eat these goitrogenic foods, just keep the intake in moderation.

I only follow two strict rules when advising patients with goiter:

1. If you have HYPERTHYROIDISM or an excess of thyroid hormones, you would want have a low iodine diet because iodine is the “food” of the thyroid gland, or the pre-cursor in producing thyroid hormone. Since you already have too much thyroid hormones, you would want to lessen production

2. AVOID eating processed meat because of the higher levels of nitrite from animal sources. Chronic exposure to high levels of nitrate led to development of hypertrophy and goiter

So there. Avoid the confusion. If you have normal thyroid hormones, it is ok to eat cruciferous vegetables as long as they are cooked, and are eaten in moderate amounts. If you are hyperthyroid: keep low on the iodine. And avoid eating processed meats.