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Does broccoli hurt your thyroid?

If you eat 3+ pounds of it raw daily and you’re iodine deficient, yes.
If you have thyroid disease and are on treatment, no.
Lots of data shows that broccoli can cut the risk of many cancers including thyroid cancers. This is also true of many healthy vegetables that find their way on the lists of ‘goitrogens’.
Without perspective on what a goitrogen is or what it does, it would be easy to feel compelled to avoid many healthy foods for fear of harming the thyroid.
Goitrogens are not specific chemicals but rather a large category of chemicals with completely different effects on thyroid function, some more relevant that others.
Genstain from soy, is one of the few things that can effect the course of autoimmune thyroid disease.
Nearly all other goitrogens act by slowing iodine absorption in to the thyroid. In parts of the world like subsaharan Africa, for example, some populations are on the edge of iodine deficiency. If a population like this consumes high amounts of cassava, they may worsen the iodine deficiency.
The main chemicals in foods that effect this are indole compounds. These are also known to lower the risk of many cancers including thyroid cancer. People with thyroid disease have a higher risk for thyroid cancer.
Most thyroid disease in the modern world is caused by autoimmune disease as opposed to iodine deficiency.
Furthermore, thyroid treatment medicines all contain iodine. Because of this, the possible small impairment of iodine absorption from goitrogens is smaller than the health benefits. Screen Shot 2013-04-05 at 12.45.20 PM
The bad side of goitrogens is also not present when they are even lightly cooked.
What are the best action steps?
  1. Make sure you’re on the best dose of thyroid medicine
  2. Stay current on thyroid ultrasound studies. If you’ve never had one, get one done as a baseline
  3. Have your broccoli in good health and enjoy it.
  4. Avoid Soy
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