Goitergenic Greens: Don’t Believe The Hype


I have many patients who have been informed by the media or other health care providers that they should limit their intake of certain vegetables because it can affect their thyroid health.  The vegetables in question are those of the brassica family such as broccoli, kale, cabbage, brussel sprouts and other vegetables.  The message is that these vegetables should be avoided.  Those with a thyroid dysfunction may also read, or are told, to not consume these vegetables at all.

This is the kind of information that feeds into food confusion and causes folks to avoid eating food that is perfectly nutritious for them.  Most of us don’t get enough green, non-salad, vegetables on a daily basis, so let’s not limit these awesome, health promoting, cancer fighting vegetables if we don’t have to.  We really don’t have to worry about this… and I’ll tell you why.

What is a goitergen?

Goitergens occur naturally in certain foods or are chemically synthesized, such as in certain pharmaceutical medications.  These ingested forms, once broken down in our bodies, may interfere with thyroid function.  A prolonged interference with thyroid function may lead to an enlargement of the thyroid called a “goiter.”

What are goitergenic foods?

The foods that contain goitergens include:

Brassica family veggies: Broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, Kale, Kohlrabi, Nappa, Rapini, Turnips, Collard Greens


Flax Seed

Pine nuts, peanuts



Sweet Potato

Peaches, Pears, Strawberries

Now… doesn’t that look like a list of some of the most healthy food in our diet?  It certainly does!  Which is why it would be a shame to limit them.

Most notably because all the Brassica family veggies and Flax Seed (ground) are tremendously protective against breast cancer, in addition to liver and colon cancer.  Moreover, these non-salad greens help fight inflammation in the body and provide the body with a healthy dose of minerals which protect our bones and cardiovascular system.


Goitergens are denatured when the food they contained is cooked

For the vast majority of individuals, brassica greens can be enjoyed on daily basis.  It is healthy to have small amounts of raw brassica vegetables every day in combination with a good variety of cooked brassica vegetables.  When we cook brassica vegetables the goitergenic compounds are deactivated.  Like any food, we get the most benefit when we rotate the types of greens we are eating.  When these vegetables are steamed, cooked or fermented the goitergenic compounds are reduced and these foods can be enjoyed as part of a healthy diet.


To get the facts about thyroid health, be sure to catch my FREE Live Webinar on Wednesday November 12th at 7:00pm.  Click Here To Register: Optimizing Metabolism: Thyroid & Adrenal Balance





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