Busting The Goitrogen Myth



One of the questions we are frequently asked on our Facebook page as well as the comments here on the blog is “Aren’t you worried about eating goitrogens with autoimmune thyroid disease? My (insert alternative health practitioner here) told me that if I eat them, they will cause a goiter!” A lot of people out there are living in fear of eating nutritious foods like broccoli, cabbage, sweet potatoes, and strawberries.

I’m here to convince you that eating goitrogens, in regular quantities, is not harmful to you if you have autoimmune thyroid disease. In fact, I think you could be doing yourself harm, nutritionally speaking, by excluding them from your diet.

What are “goitrogens”?

Goitrogens are substances that affect the thyroid’s uptake of iodine, thereby interfering with the function of the gland. In addition to foods, there are many medications and chemicals that are known to affect this process.

Here is a list of common goitrogenic foods:

-Brussels sprouts
-Collard greens
-Flax seed
-Mustard greens
-Pine nuts
-Sweet potatoes

Although there are many foods not included on the Autoimmune Protocol in this list – flax seed, pine nuts, peanuts, and soy, among others, most of them are foods that are integral to this diet, like sweet potatoes and cruciferous vegetables.

Why would anyone avoid goitrogens?

It is a myth passed around in the alternative health community that goitrogens cause a goiter, which is an enlargement of the thyroid gland. As Dr. Kharrazian points out in his most recent article, goiters are not caused by iodine deficiency or by eating goitrogens — they are caused by the inflammation from chronic autoimmune thyroid disease (Hashimoto’s). In order to get rid of a goiter, a person needs to address the autoimmune thyroid disease, not remove goitrogens from their diet.

Why you should include goitrogens in your diet

Some of the vegetables that are classified as goitrogens also happen to be very nutritious foods and have qualities that would make us want to go out of our way to include them in our diets. Cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, cabbage, and kale are known for their anti-cancer and antioxidant properties. Root vegetables like sweet potatoes, turnips, and rutabaga provide a rich source of complex carbohydrate, which can be difficult to obtain on a grain-free diet. Cruciferous vegetables as well as sweet potatoes and strawberries contain carotenoids, which are precursors to vitamin A. In addition, a lot of the fruits and vegetables on this list are a good source of the B vitamins, vitamin C, vitamin K, calcium, magnesium, potassium, zinc and sulfur. By avoiding these foods, you may be setting yourself up for nutritional deficiencies.

Sarah Ballantyne over at The Paleo Mom has written a fantastic article on her blog about this topic, and her research indicates that consuming these foods in moderate quantities actually supports thyroid function. Sarah advises that as thyroid patients, we should make sure we are sufficient in zinc, iodine, and selenium, which is great advice (although iodine supplementation can be problematic – more on that in a future blog post!)

Lastly – these foods taste great, and they are an integral part of the Autoimmune Protocol (besides the few that are not included, especially soy). Many people get great pleasure from eating cruciferous vegetables, root vegetables like sweet potatoes, and fruits like pears and strawberries.

My Experience

Back when I was first diagnosed with Hashimoto’s disease and was thrust into the world of alternative treatments, I avoided goitrogens religiously for a couple of months. I noticed no change, besides sadness for not being able to eat some of my favorite fruits and vegetables. On top of the Autoimmune Protocol, I found it extremely restrictive.

So I leave it at this — go ahead and eat your goitrogens, provided they are foods that are also allowed on the autoimmune protocol!

Have I convinced you that goitrogens are safe? I’d love to know your thoughts in the comments!




About Mickey Trescott

Mickey Trescott is a co-founder here at Autoimmune Wellness and a co-teacher of AIP Certified Coach. After recovering from her own struggle with both Celiac and Hashimoto’s disease, adrenal fatigue, and multiple vitamin deficiencies, Mickey started to write about her experience to share with others and help them realize they are not alone in their struggles. She has a Master's degree in Human Nutrition and Functional Nutrition, and is the author of three best-selling books--The Autoimmune Paleo Cookbook, The Autoimmune Wellness Handbook, and The Nutrient-Dense Kitchen. You can watch her AIP cooking demos by following her on Instagram.


  • Lisa Gibson says

    Whew, good to know. I was bummed about having to cut so much. Quick question, does hypothyroidism always (or the majority of the time) lead to Hashimoto’s? Just curious. Thanks for your always informative articles.

    • Mickey says

      Hi Lisa,
      I wouldn’t say that hypothyroidism leads to Hashimoto’s, but Hashimoto’s is usually the cause of hypothyroidism. Dr. K states that 90% of hypothyroidism is caused by Hashimoto’s – most people don’t know this when they get their diagnosis, because doctors do not usually check for antibodies (nor do they care that it is an autoimmune disease, because there is nothing that they can do about it). If you have been diagnosed with hypothyroidism, I highly recommend being tested for TPO antibodies, which will tell you if you have Hashimoto’s. Hope it helps!

      • Barbara Weiland says

        I was so excited to get your book, but then needed to return it. I have low vision. Had the print been a tad bit larger, and a space and a half between each line, I would have been able to keep it. The photos in your book were gorgeous & huge. Can you contact me about a pdf version? This is the format I used in school a few years ago.

        Sincerely, Barbara Weiland

        • Mickey Trescott says

          Sorry to hear! If you’d like to pick up an ebook copy there is a link in the sidebar of the site. Good luck!

          • paula says

            Hashimoto dx, tough getting things down..

    • Eb says

      Finally ..great to read that my now 3 year habit of juicing raw greens and cruciferous (and tons of other nutrients) is not an issue (I hope). I did not touch them for about 20 years-including spinach, kale. When I started juicing I felt so good I just kept going, but I do get concerned at times if thyroid seems low. It recently felt ‘low’ so I was advised that my irregular use of HRT (which I take in very small doses) may be interfering with my medication, and I realized I had stopped using extra progesterone. Interesting, because I started back on more progesterone daily and consistent use of estrogen and I felt better almost right away. I’m 66- so it’s one confusing package! I am still juicing and retesting levels. I avoid gluten but realize I am eating way too much dairy. I never touch iodine or soy. I have questions about Paleo though , but I will definitely look into your books:). I ‘cured’ any hair thinning issues a long time ago if anyone would like suggestions. It’s easy and not expensive, as long as you don’t take any iodine laden products (Viviscal, Renee Furterer , etc.). Thanks so much. Elizabeth

      • Mickey Trescott says

        Hi EB, I’d always go by how you feel, but I do think juicing raw cruciferous veg could cross that line of “moderate consumption” for some folks, depending on quantity and frequency. Glad you are feeling good, and for your weighing in here!

        • Eb says

          I’d be happy to follow any suggestions:)! I will get your book; in the meantime, if you can describe what is considered ‘moderate’ ..great. If not, I’ll read about it. I do not really extract w/cruciferous every time..but I DO use spinach and kale in green mix. Thank you. It’s so confusing…

          • Mickey Trescott says

            Hi Eb! It really depend on the person. I do think juicing regularly might surpass moderation for a lot of folks though. If you are making 100% cabbage and kale juice that is one thing, but if you are making 95% celery, apple, ginger, with a leaf or two of kale that is another. I’d just pay attention to your body, and if you start feeling sluggish and tired, try decreasing the amount!

      • RW says

        please share how you ‘cured’ your hair thinning issues. Thank you.

      • RW says

        Can you please share your ‘cures’ for hair thinning?
        Thank you.

      • David Hollos says

        Eb, Could you please share those remedies for hair thinning. I have started Viviscal Professional 1 month ago and am very interested to hear your feedback on hair thinning as I just read your comment regarding Iodine in the supplements. Your sharing the remedies could help many. Thank you in advance. HashimotosDAD 🙂

      • Tracy K says

        Hello , I would like to know how you overcame hair thinning ?? Thank you!

      • Maureen says

        Please help my hair thinning problem.

      • Maureen says

        I just want readers to know that my 2,daughters and myself cannot touch cruciferous
        I am.sick.with extreme.fatigue for 3,days and my medication does nothing for me

        • Mickey Trescott says

          Hi Maureen! Sorry to hear – it could be that you all are sensitive to some other compound in cruciferous vegetables, and you should certainly avoid them. Do non-cruciferous goitrogenic foods, like sweet potatoes or strawberries bother you?

      • Amia says

        Wow, ok, I’ve read your article and the comments. I am still not sure what to think about goitrogens and Hypothyroidism. My tpo was slightly high and I love the vitamins and minerals that juicing and cooking cruciferous vegetables can provide. Is it harmful with high tpo, is it not, can I still cook these or juice them and my thyroid be fine or is it not recommended. Just trying to make sense of all this information, can you help?

        • Mickey Trescott says

          I would not juice them, Amia, but I would eat them cooked.

      • Alyssia says

        I could really use that info on how you got the thinning hair reversed ! 🙂 Thanks in advance!

      • Zaahira Mahomed says

        I’d love to hear more on curing hair thinning!

      • Diana Darcy says

        I would like to know how you cured your hair loss. Any help wold be appreciated. Thank you

  • Awesome article, Mickey. I love that Dr. K & The Paleo Mom both wrote about this recently. You summarized it beautifully. Maybe this myth can finally be put to rest.

    • Mickey says

      Thanks, Eileen. Despite their articles, I still get asked this question nearly every day, and I’m sure I haven’t seen the end of it 🙂

  • Vicki says

    I was avoiding goitrogens for my thyroid. I wasn’t too rigid about it, I ate raw spinach or cabbage slaw if I was hungry for them, for example, but they were raw. NOW I find out from somewhere that goitrogens are okay in moderation if they are COOKED, like broccoli — they won’t mess with your med then. It is my understanding that goitrogens interfere with the body’s ability to ABSORB THYROID MEDICINE, not actually CAUSE a goiter (except secondary to not getting the med’s effect). You didn’t mention raw or cooked — just “eat them, it’s a myth.” ?? Now I’m thoroughly confused!! Please clarify — Raw, cooked, any way, any amounts, they are fine?? Is that right?? Does this affect every BODY the same way?

    • Mickey says

      It is true that cooking foods lessens their goitrogenic effect. I didn’t mention it in my article, because I don’t believe it to be a problem to eat goitrogens, even raw. If you read my referenced articles, you will find no mention of goitrogens affecting the absorbtion of thyroid medication – I think that is also a myth (although, if you come across any scientific evidence showing it, I will gladly take a look at it!).

      As far as quantity, you should be fine as long as you are eating *normal* amounts of these foods. This does not mean juicing cabbage or eating a goitrogen-only vegetarian diet. I don’t like making specific recommendations in this department because everyone is different. You need to decide for yourself how much vegetables you want to eat in comparison to healthy proteins and fats.

      I hope that helps clear things up for you!


      • Theresa says

        I had a very real reaction after eating a large stir fry of mostly cabbage and a little bit of chicken while taking thyroid medication. I will trust the reaction my body had and avoid goitrogens -theory or no theory, recommendation or no recommendation.

        • Mickey Trescott says

          Hi Theresa,
          Nobody is doubting you had a reaction–blaming it on goitrogens, and avoiding all of them may be unecessary. Many people react to cruciferous vegetables (cabbage, broccoli, etc.) but not other goitrogens like peaches and sweet potatoes, making it more likely that it is not the goitrogenic compounds at play but some other compound in the food. As always, don’t eat anything that doesn’t make you feel good!

          • Dan Germouse says

            If someone is reacting to cruciferous vegetables but not other foods containing goitrogens it is likely they are reacting to sulfur compounds called isothiocyanates, which are activators of the receptors TRPV1 and TRPA1.

          • Mickey Trescott says

            Thanks for that note Dan!

    • I think it is important for people to actually understand what is going on here as both yourself and a few comments have completely altered what a goitrogen is. I will also state that eating some of these foods raw is not a major issue and cooking significantly reduces the goitrogenic properties so eating cooked versions are fine. Having said that…
      Goitrogens are substances (whether in drugs, chemicals, or foods) that disrupt the production of thyroid hormones by interfering with iodine uptake in the thyroid gland. It is the disruption of the utilization of iodine that is the issue not that they are the cause of goiters or that they impact thyroid medication. I feel it is important to convey ACTUAL information so that people can make informed choices.

      • Chris says

        Nice to see someone post the facts. Cooked or uncooked, it’s individuals tolerance, and it’s not a myth. I spent years eating cruciferous vegetables, strawberries, peaches and was miserable with symptoms bouncing back and forth between hyper and hypo. I finally gave up all vegetation and only ate meat/fish/eggs for a month. My thyroid recovered within ten days and I felt like a new person. Is that a myth? No, it’s not. I now eat plenty of safe vegetables; leaf and root, with no detrimental impact to my thyroid. And btw, am off medication. Thanks for posting facts, not myths.

  • Jeanne Huelskamp says

    I have a goiter. I have been tested and my thyroid is on the high side of normal and close to being hyper however I don’t have any symptoms. I have also been tested for TPO antibodies and I do not have TPO antibodies. If I did I would have Grave’s. I have read MANY articles about eating goitrogen veggies and I have gotten VERY conflicting messages. I LOVE these veggies and I use to eat them everyday. I do not eat them raw anymore. I have cut back because when I do eat a lot of them I start to feel a lump in my throat.

    • Mickey says

      Hi Jeanne,
      I am sorry to hear about your goiter. You should click through to Dr. Kharrazian’s article – he advocates for treating the reason behind the goiter, not avoiding goitrogens. I would look for a functional medicine doctor to get you some tests and find out the reason behind your inflammation.


      • Jeanne says

        Thank you!

      • Kristina says

        I have what is called Nontoxic Multinodular Goiter. Tyey is no cause of it that can be corrected, so I DO have to stay away from any raw goitrogens.

    • Donna says

      Thank you for your very informative comment. I too have a goiter; noticed it 6 months ago. After many hours of reading & research trying to answer the questions, you answered it. If a TPO test is positive, it’s Grave’s. I haven’t been to a doctor yet. I did have a Thyroid Panel done & I had TPO & TAA antibodies on the result. Thank you so much for your comment!

    • Lynne says

      What about Thyroid Globulin antibodies not just Thyroid Peroxidase antibodies – you need testing for both

  • Matty says

    Totally agree that these foods may in fact support thyroid health, thanks so much for
    MYTH BUSTING. With so much info out there, we all get confused. I had Undiagnosed hypothyroidism for years, had to beg my doc to prescribe Armour, which helped yet did not entirely resolve some Hypothyroid symptoms. WHAT DID WORK and continues to make me feel great is a healthy eating program, I aim for 70% veggies, including a little fruit and 30% protein. This has given me amazing energy that at 65 is a pure blessing. Eat your greens people and use common sense, God made them for a reason.

  • Gayle says

    Scientific evidence is not necessary when I hear so many actual patient testimonies Eating goitrogenic foods causes pain and pressure on my thyroid. That is a fact for me. If I ever have a hyper day instead of the usual hypo I just need to go buy a cabbage. Just cutting it up causes problems, from the raw juice. I do enjoy goitrogenic foods cooked though but minimally.

    • Mickey says

      I know many people believe that goitrogens contribute to their symptoms. I also know that there is scientific evidence that when a patient believes in a treatment or therapy, it has more of a chance of working. The mind is more powerful than we give it credit for in relation to how we feel. That isn’t to say that it is all in your head – if you feel better avoiding them, I think you should go for it. My point is that there is no science backing up that they are harmful for thyroid patients in normal quantities, and I think the community deserves to know this. What does or does not work for each particular body is highly individual. You may be sensitive to cabbage, for some other reason – does the same thing happen when you eat sweet potatoes or strawberries?


      • sars says

        I WANT TO KNOW RELATION between cabbadge and hypoprotinemia in patient with hyperthyrodism i needed to help me

        • Mickey Trescott says

          Hey Sars! I am sorry, but I am not a doctor and don’t give medical advice here. Your best bet is to talk to a doctor or researcher knowledgable on this subject. Sorry!

    • Donna says

      As I was not affected by “gastric symptoms” from eating these foods, I do not usually eat these type vegetables raw as I never like the “crunchy and fresh taste”. Could some of the pressure be a gastric problem of eating them raw and not digesting as well as the cooked version?

  • Elaine says

    How about fermented cruciferous vegetables, such as sauerkraut? I have Hashimoto’s and I’ve been consuming fermented veggies every day. I don’t have much though, maybe only a few tablespoons of it.

  • stephanie says

    I just came across your article. Thank you. I have been reading so much over the last month that I am just really confused. I have thyroid issues for years however my new doc has said i have hashimoto. I know I need to change a lot of things in my diet but it’s so hard to find a starting place. You made me realize I have to do what’s right for me thanks

  • Tina says

    I am going to respectfully disagree.
    When I have anything goitrogenic, I feel like I have eaten McDonald’s. I thought that I might have been just dreaming this up in my head, but one day, last summer, I was eating a couple of peaches, and that tell tale sign of fever, and feeling a general malaise came over me. I couldn’t figure it out. “I hadn’t had any goitrogens; why do I feel so poorly?”
    I hadn’t realized that peaches were indeed goitrogens.
    I avoid them completely.

    • Mickey says

      There are many reasons why you could react to a food – I am definitely a believer in the fact that all of us do better or worse with certain foods. You may have a particular reaction to these foods, and if so I do not think you should eat them.

      The research does not support the recommendation that everyone with a thyroid problem should be avoiding these nutritious foods, and that is what I aim to point out in my article.

      I’m happy you made the connection that they don’t make you feel well – so many people don’t even get that far!


    • Meredith says

      Anytime I eat any type of goiterogenic food (cabbage,cauliflower, barley grass, sweet potato, kale also radishes) my thyroid will swell. Do you have any tips on waking up my thyroid a bit to be able to handle some of these foods again? I’m on Nature throid. And also selenium zinc and iodine. (My iodine tested low through Hakala) I’m doing the 12.5mg per day. Thoughts?

      • Mickey Trescott says

        Hi Meredith,
        I’m not sure here, but personally I had thyroid swelling when I was supplementing with iodine. Your cause may be the foods, or it could be a supplement. I’d work closely with your practitioner to try and figure out the source of the problem, and it may just need more trial and error.

  • Linda says

    Hi Mickey

    I have had Hashimoto’s for 13 years and it’s only in the last couple of years that I have eaten cruciferous foods because I originally thought they should be avoided. Since eating them again, I have actually been able to reduce my meds twice!! Proof enough for me

    Linda xxx

  • Katie says

    Hi! I came across your blog while searching for information on goitrogen and nitriles (all news to me)… But just like I haven’t eliminated nightshades or gluten, I’m probably not going to eliminate foods with these characteristics. I’ve really changed my diet around in the past couple years (no additives, preservatives, synthetic vitamins, gmo’s, etc. and eating mostly organic) and I am still slowly tweaking it. I’ve discovered fermentation, the art of soaking nuts, grains, seeds, legumes, etc., and now this. I’m extremely overwhelmed, particularly because I suffer from lupus and, I am almost certain, fibromyalgia that has not once gone into remission. I have a really hard time keeping my house/kitchen clean, let alone cooking, soaking, and fermenting in the tiny area I have available. What do you recommend for someone who is just learning about all these negative properties of whole foods (i.e. goitrogens/nitriles, nightshades, phytic acid, gluten…) and is having a hard time deciding what to eat when they barely have enough energy to cook anything? I’ve thought about elimination diets, but I don’t know what would even be left on the starting list.

    • Mickey says

      Katie, I know how overwhelming this all is! I would start with gluten and dairy free, and be 100% strict. Once you get in the habit of that, try and transition to Paleo. I would do without all of the soaking and sprouting and just choose not to eat grains–I think those of us with autoimmunity do better without them, and they are a lot of work to prepare so that they are nutritious and easy to digest. Have you looked into batch cooking some bigger meals once a week, like soups or stews? If you have a big pot, you can make extra, and freeze for portions during the week.

      Remember, this is a process, and most of us don’t go all in at once. Wishing you luck!


  • Amanda says

    As Jeanne did, I must also respectfully disagree. I regularly have my thyroid tested. It is functioning absolutely fine, but I do have a goiter. There is no treatment because any type of medication will throw my levels off into hyper or hypothyroidism. I cannot eat any of the above mentioned foods, although I highly enjoy them, because of the way they directly affect my thyroid. I too feel as though I have a lump in my throat that can last for days with certain foods (like bok choy and kale). Although these foods may not be physically harmful to me, I will continue to listen to my body when it is telling me what I have eaten is making me uncomfortable.

    • Rebecca says

      Amanda, I have the same experience – normal thyroid (despite hashimoto’s) and a goiter that doesn’t bother me much until I overdo the cruciferous vegetables, which I generally really like. Having done three weeks of green drinks, I am now having to stay away and boost iodine and hope that it settles down. Being told that these foods won’t give me goiter is frustrating – they certainly do make it considerably worse.

  • Susan says

    Thanks for the great post. Here’s a weird question. I started eating Paleo about 1.5 years ago. I have MS and saw Dr Wahls TED talk. I’m a terrible cook, so tend to eat the same things over & over, and I eat TONS of broccoli, spinach, and kale. Also, I think I don’t get enough iodine becUse I never eat sea weed like Dr. Wahls recommends.. Over that past 1.5 years my reverse T3 and TSH have been climbing up and my T3 has been going down. Thyroid antibodies are negative. Lately, I’ve been thinking my thyroid looks enlarged (but I keep thinking “nah, your just imagining it)”. Do you think it’s possible to eat so much of these foods that a person can develop thyroid problems due to the diet I described? Thanks Mickey. Your the bomb!!

    • Mickey says

      I think it is possible, but you would have to be eating a LOT of these foods (I think the Dr. K article I referenced goes into more detail about this). Have you thought about incorporating more iodine-rich foods, like seaweed and fish into your diet, and cutting back on the greens to see if anything changes?

      Good luck!


  • mary tegtmeyer says

    Thanks so much for your book so clear and beautiful I am turning 60 weigh 190 ten lbs down not eating the things that make me sick. No energy because just starting sleep apnia device .Hypogysimea gets me if I don,t have enough protien or starch will that make weight loss impossible I love the veggies you were talking about and batch cook not to say oh there is nothing made .So done with feel ill everyday,thanks again

  • Helene says

    Thanks for this post. I have a multinudolar goitre and have been undergoing 2-yearly check ups for a slightly hyperactive thyroid gland for nearly 15 years now. I eat lots of broccoli (had a lovely raw broccoli salad with a New England Pot Roast today and will have steamed broccoli with fish tomorrow evening) and vegs and switched to a mainly Paleo diet last year. I have never felt better in my life (weight, energy, concentration, happiness…) and am curious as what my check up will show in 1 year’s time!
    Have found 2 other links that are relevant to people with Graves’:

  • ChelseaH says

    This is great news! I started reading about the need for those of us with autoimmune thyroid disease to avoid these fruits/ vegetables and was resisting removing them from my diet. I’m glad to know others are feeling the same way!

  • Tiffany Mladinich says

    I have Hashimotos and goitrogen foods greatly bother me. My thyroid swells within a half hour after eating a goitrogen food. Goitrogens inhibit iodine uptake, and therefore suppress the thyroid. This is not opinion, but anatomical fact. Not a problem for some, but seriously problematic for others. It even says that soy interferes with thyroid medication right on the bottle. Too many other nutritious foods that are not problematic for me. I will avoid them as long as I have this reaction…and so should others that experience it. Hypothyroidism is not a one size fits all.

    • Mickey says

      I don’t doubt you have a reaction, but also consider that it could not be because of the goitrogens, it could be one of the many other compounds in these foods. Check out both of the articles I reference, which were written by experts in autoimmune and thyroid disorders, who have come to the conclusion that the research does not support that theory. I don’t think it is wise to recommend that everyone stop eating these otherwise nutritious vegetables, although I am sorry they do not work for you.


    • Linda G. says

      I totally Agree!

  • […] to have healthy thyroid function. Cruciferous vegetables have gotten a lot of bad press about being goitrogenic, but they are actually much less so than millet or soy. Having enough iodine (gotten through kelp, […]

  • Danielle says

    Hello Miceky,
    Curious to hear your thoughts on soy. Would you agree that even organic soy (milk, tofu etc) interfers with thryoid function and the effectiveness of medication?

    • Mickey says

      I’m not sure that I would recommend avoiding soy because of its goitrogenic effects, but there are many other reasons not to consume it, the main one being that it is a powerful endocrine disruptor. I would not consume it with or without a thyroid condition!


  • Millie says

    Hi, I have hypothyroidism (hashimoto’s) and it runs in my family. I make green smoothies with spinach and kale. I do add about a cup or two of spinach and kale per serving. Am I using too much ? I also love strawberries and peanut butter. I am not too worried about consuming strawberries or peanut butter because I do not eat those too frequently.

    • Mickey says

      Hi Millie,
      Its impossible for me to know if you are using too much–I would listen to feedback from your body. If you don’t feel your best, perhaps try going without for a couple of weeks to see if there are any changes. Hope it helps!


  • Sharyn says

    I read in the Wiki article on goitrogens that avocado and saturated fats can stimulate thyroid function, so I will continue to enjoy these foods with a little avocado or grassfed butter 🙂 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Goitrogen

  • Misha says

    Thanks for this post. It is always good to have varying sources of information. I found another article at World’s Healthiest Foods that provides both an explanation of goitrogens and claimed impacts on health, as well as references scientific articles that do not support avoidance of foods or substances with goitrogenic effects for those with thyroid diseases: https://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=george&dbid=250
    I also wish to put my two cents in support of your response to Tina to pay attention to what works for you as an individual. Sometimes what works for several others will not work for you. My partner has been dealing with auto-immune eye inflammation for two years. I found out about the AIP, purchased your book, and supported him by joining in on the AIP diet. He responded positively to it with much needed weight loss and some improvement in vision, while for me I felt sluggish the entire diet and did not lose any weight but rather gained some in addition to weight I’d gained since we moved about 3 years ago. Granted I did not have a diagnosed autoimmune condition, but in general I thought the emphasis on veggies (which supported my personal eating tendencies) would be positive. Up until we moved, I was either a vegetarian or very occasional heavy meat eater, and ate a traditional Indonesian diet including fermented soy products, lots of greens including cruciferous veggies, rice, and low to no gluten. Then, just 4 months after the AIP experiement, I was diagnosed with Hashimoto’s. I’ve returned to my traditional diet in addition to starting on low dosage of T4, and am seeing positive physical results. We’ll see soon if the tests confirm whether my feeling better goes hand in hand with improvements of TOP antibodies, TSH, rT3 etc. I believe that the AIP can and does work wonders for some. But, it may not work for everyone. The best thing to do is to try and and see if it works for you, and if not, make some adjustments and try other things until you find what works for you.
    All the best!

    • Mickey says

      Thanks for adding your thoughts Misha–I don’t believe in one-size-fits-all diet prescriptions, and I’m happy you experimented and found something that works for you. 🙂

      Wishing you the best,


  • Misha says


    Thanks for this post. It is always good to have varying sources of information, and this summary helps provide a counter perspective to a lot of the information out there. I found another article at World’s Healthiest Foods, titled “An Up-to-Date Look at Goitrogenic Substances in Food,” that references several scientific articles that do not support total avoidance of foods or substances with goitrogenic effects for those with thyroid diseases. That article focuses less on goiters, and more on general impacts on thyroid function.

    I also want to thank you for your continued response (and in previous posts) to pay attention to what works for *you as an individual*, that AIP is perhaps not for everyone. Sometimes what works for several others will not work for you without adjustments or at all. My partner has been dealing with auto-immune eye inflammation for two years. I found out about the AIP, purchased your book, and supported him by joining for two months on the AIP to see if it would help with some weight gain and fatigue and reveal some allergens (other than dairy which I already knew about). He responded positively with much needed weight loss and some improvement in vision, while for me I felt even more sluggish the entire diet and gained weight in addition to weight I’d gained since we moved about 3 years ago. Granted I did not have a diagnosed autoimmune condition, but in general I thought the diet would be positive. It was actually easy since I avoided processed foods, ate mostly vegetables, and tended only to eat some grains (such as rice and corn). Prior to our move, I was either a vegetarian or very occasional meat eater, and ate a traditional Indonesian diet including fermented soy products, lots of greens including cruciferous veggies, rice, and low to no gluten or dairy. Then, just 4 months after the AIP experiment, I was diagnosed with Hashimoto’s. I’ve returned to my traditional diet in addition to starting on low dosage of T4, and am seeing positive physical results. We’ll see soon if tests confirm whether my feeling better goes hand-in-hand with improvements of TOP antibodies, TSH, rT3 etc. I will be willing to try the AIP again with some modifications if my test results and subsequent adjustments do not improve things. I believe that the AIP can and does work wonders for some, but agree it may not work for everyone. Thanks again for the information you share, as well as your support for those working on these health issues.

    All the best!

  • Carmelle says

    No my gosh… I needed this article. I just had a friend tell me that I needed to ax kale from my diet because of my hypothyroidism/Hashimoto’s, and I flipped. It’s in my mid-morning smoothie everyday and has been for a couple years; and now I’m being told it could be hurting me. I took to the internet and almost croaked seeing all the information that appeared to back up the idea that goitrogens cause problems for thyroid patients. I lost HOURS of my day, trying to figure out how in the world I was going to be able to keep living my paleo life when the food I eat is bad for me.

    I needed this. Thank you. Thank you so SO much.

    • Mickey says

      Happy it helps you! Be careful as the goitrogens can be overdone (especially in liquid form), but for the most part I think they are well tolerated.
      Good luck!


  • […] excess estrogen from the body, something my body desperately needs. We are even starting to bust the myth that people with thyroid disorders should avoid […]

  • J says

    Mickey, what do you think about the results of these studies (that show a goiter increase in animals fed kale): https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/00288233.1958.10431532#.VFQg8hYgH-q

    Here’s some more info to look over (follow the links within the article): https://huntgatherlove.com/content/just-kale-me-how-your-kale-habit-slowly-destroying-your-health-and-world

  • Jen says

    Hi. I eat a lot of vegetebales. Have them everyday.’ I would also steam/cool them all the time. But last few months was probably having 6 servings of veggies a day. I am totally healthy and have no thyroid problems at all. Eating a lot vegetables cant just make my thyroid stop functioning correctly when its always worked right? Because obviously everyone eats veggies everyday and they are good for you. And i have no history of thyroid problems in my family. I think i am just a hypocondriac lol

    • Mickey says

      I don’t think it is a problem for a healthy person to eat 6 cups of veggies–in fact, Terry Wahls recommends 9 cups for her patients. If you ever don’t feel your best, then it is time to look into things a little further. Wishing you luck!


  • Always such insightful information. I noticed after going on AIP for 5 months, my symptoms have significantly progressed. I began eating many more goitrogenic vegetables on this diet, of course. And I noticed if I ate raw kale and such, my body would freak out.

    After a battery of tests, I was found to have cryptosporidium, activated Epstein-Barre and possibly Lyme (low CD57 NK). But most recently, my doctor found low T3, low iodine and totally normal everything else, ruling out Hashimoto’s, Grave’s, RA, etc. So I’ve been diagnosed with hypothyroidism due to low iodine. I’ve read it’s rare to have this without Hashi’s, but my TPO is totally normal.

    My question is, is hypothyroidism without Hashimoto’s considered autoimmune? And in the Paleo Mom’s article, she mentions the importance of restricting these vegetables when a thyroid condition is due to low iodine. What are your thoughts on that, or alternate vegetables, amounts? Thank you so much!

    • Mickey says

      Hi Lea,
      The goitrogenic activity of these foods, in an iodine deficient state is well documented. Hypothyroidism without Hashimoto’s is not usually autoimmune, although one can have Hashimoto’s without antibodies (diagnosed with an ultrasound). I think if a person is deficient in iodine, that must be dealt with to restore thyroid function, and these foods may need to be restricted until that happens. I’d work with a qualified doc or nutritionist on this one.

      Hope it helps!


  • mel d says

    I limit goitrogens because they suppress my metabolism. I haven’t read all the comments but believe you did not mention this directly in the article above? .So in other words, AIP-approved goitrogens like cruciferous veggies make me tired and make my hair fall out. So I tend to load up on them a couple days a week. But I’m very interested in ways to boost my thyroid, and reluctant to try dessicated thyroid because some think it can throw off the endocrine system more and make one dependent on supplemental thyroid hormone. Any thoughts on that, Mickey? 😉

    • Mickey says

      Hi Mel,
      Goitrogen content is not the only reason why a person would react to these foods. Do you react to sweet potatoes as well as kale? You may be sensitive to cruciferous veggies unrelated to the fact that they are goitrogens. I would avoid any food that causes your symptoms to worsen.

      I do not believe in denying thyroid medication if a person is low in thyroid hormone. This is an important part of a healthy metabolism, and many people with autoimmune thyroid disease have to take replacement hormone for life.

      Hope it helps!


  • Katherine says

    I personally feel that eating a lot of kale, Bok choy and sweet potatoes caused my thryroid to crash a year ago. I had adrenal fatigue for years and was getting really tired of being sick & tired. So I decided to eat as healthy as I possibly could, and I figured that involved lots of kale & Bok Choy salads. I had no knowledge of goitergens and never imagined the supposed healthiest foods could actually harm my thyroid. I ate a little soy on top of it all, and then my thyroid crashed to the point where I could barely get out of bed for days. I did some research and figured out what was making me so sick. I strictly eliminated goitergens from my diet, ate a lot of steak and raw milk(has iodine) and my body made a dramatic turnaround without any meds at all. Now if I eat those foods occasionally they don’t have a dramatic effect on me (although haven’t tried kale or Bok choy again). I can eat peanut butter and the goitergenic fruits without any noticeable problems, but I don’t eat them daily. Interesting thing is that I don’t really like most goitergenic foods and never have. My parents used to force me to eat broccoli as a child and I couldn’t stand it. I feel like my body knows what it needs to avoid to be healthy and I am very sensitive to the bitter taste in some of those veggies. So I feel like every person needs to learn their own body and what works well for them. But if you do have thyroid problems it’s worth at least trying to cut out goitrogenic foods for awhile to see if you improve on your own without needing to resort to meds. No matter how amazing those foods might be at preventing cancer or anything else, its just not worth it if they damage your thyroid which is incredibly important to overall health.

    • Mickey Trescott says

      Hi Katherine,
      It sounds like you were iodine deficient when you felt like goitrogens were affecting you–which is the condition that research shows goitrogens can be harmful. I totally agree with you that we all need to experiment and find out what works for us individually. I wrote this article because I did not want people to assume these foods should be off limits for all thyroid patients, because they are a healthy addition to the diet for most.

      Wishing you continued success on your journey!


  • […] Busting The Goitrogen Myth This was interesting to me. With my history of thyroid problems, I’ve been careful with goitrogens, not by avoiding them, but by making sure they are cooked. […]

  • Deana says

    Hi Mickey. Very insightful information. I have struggled with thyroid issues for years then did acupuncture and my thyroid went back to normal 3.65 range. Then just recently I tested positive for the thyroid antibodies ( Hashimotos) I am a little overwhelmed by all the information and diet protocols. I have mostly changed to organic foods, eliminated grains, gluten and sugar. I love lots of cruciferous vegetables and sweet potatoes. Is it safe for me to eat baked sweet potatoes (1medium) every day? Also I make fruit smoothies with bluberries, cherries, bananas and flax with cinnamon and protein powder every morning. Is there an issue with flax meal and high quality whey protein powder on AIP diet? I have seen on many websites to eliminate nuts, seeds and limit coconut except coconut oil. Your thoughts?
    Thanks for your help.

    • Mary Linda Smith says

      Deana, you might try preparing more veggies from either summer or winter squashes. Butternut squash, for example, is quite similar in taste (though not the same) as a sweet potato. Then you can avoid eating goitrogens quite so much as you are. Eating a variety of foods can help one not to become sensitive to any one thing. With any of these squashes, you can add them to soups or make soups almost exclusively from them, sauté, roast, steam and bake them! The internet is loaded with all kinds of recipes that are AIP or paleo compliant. But, if you come across one that is bitter, leave it alone. I have just seen two articles on this potential problems w/ veggies from this family (including cucumbers, btw). Also, one thing that we enjoy is making guacamole and, instead of chips, using carrot sticks to eat with it. There’s a wonderful contrast of creamy/sour/salty to the carrot’s crisp sweetness!

  • Smoke-Free For Nine Years—and Counting! | Z to Z Hypothyroid says

    […] I finally had a physical reason for a doctor to check my antibodies. *****I am fully aware of the controversy surrounding “goitrogens” and how they can potentially lower thyroid function. I do not claim anything other than what I know […]

  • […] For Paleo Diets – Nuzest Is is Primal? 10 Foods Scrutinised – Mark’s Daily Apple Goitrogens – Why You Don’t Need To Avoid Them – Autoimmune Paleo Casein – Wikipedia Pros and Cons of Egg Protein Powder – Super Human Coach Hemp […]

  • […] you’re a Hashimoto’s sufferer, just go easy on proportions (as with anything) and read this article for […]

  • Arletta says

    I don’t know about with an autoimmune thyroid disorder. My thyroid was tested by two doctors. One said it was not diseased but something was definitely making it act up and I could not be giving medication of any sort to help balance things out. The other one said that the first doctor was using old charts and should have used the new ones, then, giving me medication to help balance things out.

    They both told me to avoid soy, broccoli, cabbage and cauliflower. I found out I am about deathly allergic to soy. If I have it in any quantity, I balloon up so bad I can barely move and have to rush to get allergy pills down my throat before it closes up too much to medicate myself. And, it definitely enlarges my thyroid for weeks.

    If I eat cabbage, cauliflower or broccoli, even in limited amounts, even cooked, it affects my thyroid in much the same way, but, to a lesser extent.

    So, for me, it is definitely not a myth that I should such foods. Up until tonight, I had no idea that so many other foods should have been on the list.

    Now, I will say that I have not experienced this sort of trouble when eating strawberries, at least to any noticeable degree, but, even though I may eat several at a time, I hardly ever get to eat them.

    I do know that I spend a great deal of time with my thyroid giving me that stuffy-throated feeling, where I have trouble getting enough oxygen to be able to exercise at all. But, it does go away, sometimes, and, those times, I can now see, are the times I am not eating any of this stuff!

    Oh, how I would like to believe you, because, I love some of these foods very much. But, I can’t see what you are saying is true. Maybe … for people on medication … or, maybe for people who have already found some other way to balance their hormones and who, now, just have to worry about things getting unbalanced, again. But, for me, I definitely have to avoid certain foods and now that I have a longer list of possible reasons I feel crappy 24/7, I might find I have to avoid more. Thanks for that, anyway.

    • Mickey Trescott says

      Hi Arletta,
      I too suffer from an autoimmune thyroid condition, and have no problem with these foods eaten in moderation. Of course, no one person’s experience means a prescription for all–but I do think there is more too people having issues with these vegetables than the goitrogen myth.

      It sounds to me, since you are only reacting to cruciferous vegetables, and not non-cruciferous ones (like strawberries) that maybe you are reacting for another reason? This is a common food sensitivity, as is soy.

      I definitely recommend avoiding anything that doesn’t make you feel great! But I don’t recommend everyone avoid perfectly healthy greens because of some rumor their doctor told them. We need these nutrients!

      Wishing you the best,


  • Dianne says

    Being a year old into thyroid disease (Hashimoto’s) I recently had an ultra sound done of my thyroid which showed positive for nodules. My first thought was cancer but after more thought I remembered that my grandmother had a goiter the size of an orange on her throat so I’ll assume that will be my case. I have been following Izabella Wentz’s book, Root Cause, where she advises green smoothies once a day while staying gluten, dairy and soy free, so I thought what the heck. For the last 3 weeks I’ve become addicted to green smoothies consisting of mostly spinach, asparagus, cukes, bananas, flax, coconut and almond milk. Unfortunately, I started loosing hair by the handfuls which totally perplexed me as I thought I was eating all the right stuff. Then I ran across an article saying that flax and spinach are both goitrogenic, especially when taken in abundance raw. So, steer me right if you will, perhaps for some people, eating goitrogenic food is not all that great of a thing? So now I’m loosing the flax and spinach. I eat regular lettuce and lean toward chia seeds, at least until I can figure out the root cause. Unfortunately, this is a lonely journey as medical care is scarce.

    • Mickey Trescott says

      Hi Dianne,
      Sorry to hear of your experience, but do understand that there are many compounds in foods and you may not be reacting to the goitrogens. Spinach is high in oxalates, and a lot of people are sensitive to seeds such as flax. I don’t doubt you could be sensitive to these foods, but blaming it all on goitrogens and avoiding greens the rest of your life isn’t healthy either. Hope you find out a solution!

  • Brandy says

    Eat anything you want…belief is the law, my will makes it so.

  • […] Without drawing out another entire blog post, the short version is this: there is NO GOOD EVIDENCE that drinking green smoothies will wreck your thyroid or damage your health in any way, under normal circumstances in a person of average health. [for more indepth discussions on this, see source 1 and source 2] […]

  • Having done much self research re oxalates and the damage they did to me I have to observe that the age of the body is extremely important factor here.
    In my efforts to become healthier nearly knocked myself off the planet. At first I could not understand the reason but after much research realise that it was the high oxalates in green vegetable that did the damage and their connection and interaction with gluten.
    Oxalates are star shaped crystals that can form in any part of the body, the thyroid being one along with kidneys, liver, heart etc.
    This is why I believe there is such a difference of opinion whether green smoothies are good or not.
    I am going on 73 and I don’t think I takes an “Einstein” to work out that young bodies don’t in the main have the build up of toxic elements that older bodies do. More research is obviously required but the information recently available relating to Coeliac/Oxalates and auto ammune problems makes complete sense.
    I have no doubt your findings are as accurate as the abstainers of green smoothies hence I have come to the conclusion that age is a vital component here.

  • JoAnn says

    Well thank you for speaking the truth about these wonderful vegetables. I agree with your above statements about the delicious foods being okay for us who suffer with Hashimotos. Good food is essential for our bodies. God Bless.

  • Angela Vanio says

    I have been on 50 mg of synthroid for 8 years (diagnosed at 37 with Hashimotos). In a desire to feel/eat better, although the initial taking of synthroid was life changing–I felt 10 yrs younger… I bought a Nutribullet. In 6 weeks I felt horrible, I gained weight even though my calories were reduced. Every shake I drank contained spinach or kale. The next time I visited the doctor, for the first time my med levels had to be raised to .75 mg. I started doing research and first learned about goitrogenic foods. For me, it was very detrimental to eat these foods. It also was not a “you are what you believe” situation (as I read in the above comments) as I had never thought eating better could hurt me. I can attest that goitrogenic (raw) foods, once a day, had a very negative effect on my hypothyroidism.

    • Mickey Trescott says

      Hi Angela,
      Did you also get the same effect when eating other goitrogens, like sweet potatoes and strawberries? There could be another reason why the greens were affecting you–possibly the oxalates. There are many other components to food that make them work or not work for our bodies!

      • Angela Vanio says

        Thank you, interesting point. I’m not sure about this because I never would eat such large amounts of strawberries or sweet potatoes like I was eating the spinach and kale. It just never occurred to me that these natural foods could have a negative effect on me– no matter what the underlying culprit was.

  • Mary says

    A few years ago I decided to go all out and dive into the Dr. Furhman’s, “Eat to Live” protocol. Wow! What a huge success thst was! I lost 35 pounds! Now, thst stated…this included a large blended salad every morning with an orange or some berries on the side, 1 pound of raw veggies…including lots of different types of greens…low in oxalate and some a bit high…, 1 pound of steamed veggies, 1 cup of beans (not allowed tho on the AIP), 1 oz of seeds (not allowed on AIP), an ounce of nuts (not allowed on the AIP), and 1/2 to 1 cup of berries. I did this everyday, and began walking about 6 miles (I worked up to that fast and broke it up throughout the day). The ONLY issue with this very strict diet at the time was a very low Ferritin level and Vitamin D level. I think had I removed the nits, seeds, beans, and the nightshades from this protocol, I might have healed my gut. Though i.lost weight, my belly was still bloated. I attribute that to those foods not allowed on the AIP. I never had any issues with the greens but I also didn’t have the same greens everyday. I mixed them up. I’d have spinach one day in my blended salad, romaine the next, iceberg, bok choy, and other greens with low oxalates. One can’t get away from oxylates; thier pretty much in a lot of healthy foods. The goal is to mix them up! 🙂 Eat healty…be Happy! 🙂

  • […] kale contains far more calcium. If you’re concerned about eating it raw, take a read of Mickey’s post and then get out […]

  • norm says

    I have eaten homemade sauerkraut every day for last few years. I generally eat 1/2 to 1 cup once or twice per day. Would this be a moderate amount or too much? Also I wonder if taking a couple weeks off from eating sauerkraut would be a good idea? Thanks for your input.

    • Mickey Trescott says

      Hi Norm,
      While I think homemade sauerkraut is an excellent addition to the diet, 1/2-1 cup 1-2x a day is a pretty big dose. Would you consider trying to ferment some other vegetables to mix it up, like carrots or beets? I always think it is a good idea to take a 1-2 week break from anything we’ve been relying on a lot, to continue to assess tolerance. Wishing you luck!

  • marjorie nichols says

    I would like some suggestions of what to eat for Breakfast on the elimination diet. I seldom eat meat and my choices for breakfast had been eggs or oat bran…on the elimination plan all I can get down is a fruit. Thanks!

  • Jayne says

    What are your thoughts on multi vitamins that contain soy? Is it a lot in a vitamin?

    • Mickey Trescott says

      Hi Jayne,
      Yes, I do believe it is problematic even in trace amounts in a vitamin. Soy is not only a goitrogen, but not included on the elimination diet.

  • Katie says

    I have avoided brassicas for thyroid reasons as I noticed they immediately causes water rentention and flu like symptoms. This is frustrating because being on a paleo diet I loved kale chips! I now only have them in moderation when out but as much as anything, the main difficulty is that where the autoimmune recipe books fill a definite ‘nightshade free’ gap for me (straight paleo is often nightshade heavy in recipe books) I get stuck because there are less recipes that are brassica free. I have to say I have been mystified as to why you didn’t react badly to brassicas as I was under the impression that it was a standard reaction re thyroid issues, so this article shows me it’s not everyone! I wondered however if brassicas could be included in the ‘exclude then try again’ category as many of us come to AIP looking for recipes we can use even without brassicas.

    • Mickey Trescott says

      Hi Katie,
      Although brassicas are goitrogens, not all goitrogens are brassicas 😉 I have thyroid issues and have never had problems with moderate consumption of goitrogens, as I advocate for in this article. I suspect if you react to brassicas, but not other goitrogens (like strawberries or sweet potatoes) there is something in the brassicas you are sensitive to, not the goitrogens.

  • S Moon says

    Here is an article that is somewhat different from what is stated in this article. Not sure which is more accurate, but you may want to review it to compare:


    • Mickey Trescott says

      Hi Moon,
      I’m familiar with the common message spread around natural health circles about goitrogens, but my opinion is based on the research I’ve referenced here in this article.

  • Goiter gal says

    I have to disagree that goitrogens don’t create goiters. I take this from my own experience. For years I have juiced daily as maintenance from healing my colon cancer 14 years ago. I focused on cancer killing veggie rock stars of cabbage, kale, carrots, beets etc drinking from 16-30 oz/day. Last spring I noticed I was having trouble swallowing and then started feeling like someone was choking me. Lo and behold I had a doozie of a goiter that swelled to noticeable proportions. My TPO was normal but my TSH was high, so I was dx’ed hypothyroid. I immediately took out all goitrogens including the steamed broccoli and cauliflower I ate daily. I’ve been following a modified paleo since 2009 when I dropped all legumes, nuts and grains due to a mast cell disease I have. And the goiter shrunk. I started on T3/T4 bio identicals 2 months after my dx. By then my goiter was already shrunken. I can’t imagine that my ginormous goiter wasn’t affected by my daily consumption of goitrogens. And I have to believe that removing them helped to shrink it. Do you have any other theories?

    • Mickey Trescott says

      Hi Goiter Gal,
      I don’t consider juicing a normal and moderate consumption of these foods. Yes, they have goitrogenic compounds, and there is no doubt they were affecting your thyroid (this has been well documented in literature). I don’t agree though, that normal consumption of these foods (in their whole form, cooked, side portions) will cause goiter in most people (perhaps in the very sensitive). Hope it helps!

  • Stormy says

    Hi.. I’ve just recently had a CT scan and biopsy of large mass on thyroid. Biopsy didn’t show cancer but they also said it was inconclusive and surgeon wants to take out 1/2 of thyroid, have it biopsied and if cancerous, take out the other side. My question is, I’ve been wanting to start juicing again (haven’t for at least 6 months), and each day I’d juice about 5 full leaves of kale along with celery, cucumbers, ginger, lemon, and a green apple. Should I not juice the kale each day since I’ve already got an enlarged thyroid?

    • Mickey Trescott says

      Hey Stormy!
      I’m sorry to hear about your thyroid mass–it sound like a stressful situation and I hope you are cancer-free. I can’t advise on eating for any specific medical conditions since I am not a doctor, but it does seem like juicing goitrogens (like the kale) can tip that balance from moderate to excessive consumption. Have you thought of trying some other leafy greens like lettuce instead?

  • Sandy says

    I think I need goitrons and wish i could try some antithyroid meds .I have a question about TPO. I am euthyroid with elevated anti tpo and on the lower normal TSH of 2 or under.Always normal thyroid values.Dx of euthyroid hashis from an md-but couldnt it be both hypo and hyper at the same time?could it balance out my values if i was both?I crave raw kale and brocolli .I know they are good for methylation too,but they relax me,so I figure I am closer to hyperthyoidism even tho cold with chills a lot.My neck has always been tight and have a hard time relaxing.cannot get referral to endo

    • Mickey Trescott says

      Hi Sandy,
      I am sorry, but since I’m not a medical practitioner I can’t advise on your lab work or medical conditions. I’d suggest checking out the resources page for links to find a doctor who is familiar with AIP and/or functional medicine that can help you sort it out!

  • Allison says

    I think there’s a huge difference between having a salad with spinach and kale and juicing an entire 8 oz of spinach and kale, and I wish you would have mentioned that. Also, cooking goitrogenic foods helps. I can’t eat sweet potatoes no matter what. My TSH goes up And freet3 plummets (one time I had my levels tested a morning after eating half of a sweet potato) and I get weird feelings. If I didn’t know any of this while I was reading your article I would have been given the false hope that I could eat goitrogenic foods whenever and however I want. I know you threw some words along the lines of “in moderation” in there but I think they are too subtle

    • Mickey Trescott says

      Hi Allison,
      I’m sorry you think the caution is too subtle, but I think people are too discouraged and scared to eat these foods by the misinformation they have been given. You may have a sensitivity to sweet potatoes that has nothing to do with the goitrogenic potential of the food. I do talk about juicing lots in the comments here. People need to experiment and find out what works best for them!

  • Joyce Bowler says

    Question about this article and goitrogens in a green supplement form. So I’ve found basic greens ( which have goitrogens in them) and newer Suzy Cohen green drink that has no goitrogens. I’ve not tried either yet, wondering why this dr. Says having goitrogens is not good for those w/:thyroid disease contrary to Dr. K article. Lots of confusing info.

    • Mickey Trescott says

      Hi Joyce,
      I’m a big fan of eating whole, real foods instead of taking isolated supplements. Our bodies absorb nutrients better that way, and it is MUCH more cost effective! I would not suggest a green supplement at all, just fresh, organic greens on a daily basis. Hope it helps.

  • Kiani says

    Hi Micky,

    I have a question about fermented foods as well. I know you touched on it a while back, however, I’m trying to find more information about the fermenting process, whether that releases or reduces any of the carotenoids because they are still raw foods in that case. I would like to start making kimchi for the health benefits, and have also come across ALOT of articles that all say the same thing, cook your brassica veggies.
    I’ve had hypothyroidism for about eight years and my doctor has said the brassica veggies are absolutely fine in moderation, he did say cooked for the most part, but I still enjoy all the fruits on the list and actually grow peaches and strawberries so I don’t want to miss out on those. I was having soy late’s four or five times a week and started to feel really dizzy and strange. It took a week or so to realise the soy was interfering with my medication and I wasn’t getting the dose. So I would be more courteous of soy milk if anything. I eat the occasional coleslaw, just not that often, however, I would probably eat kimchi on a daily basis, hence the question.
    I really enjoyed your article. Thanks.

    Kind regards,


    • Mickey Trescott says

      Hi Kiani–about the carotenoids and fermentation, to be honest I don’t know. I would ask Sarah Ballanyne at thepaleomom.com, I know she has done an incredible amount of research about nutrients and food. Soy is a terrible food for those of us with thyroid conditions and I am not surprised to hear of your reaction. I don’t think eating coleslaw or kimchi (as long as the kimchi doesn’t have peppers if you are on the elimination diet!) should cause a problem, but as always, listen to your body!

  • Carolyn Morales says

    But goitrogens inhibit iodine uptake by the thyroid….iodine is needed to produce thyroid hormones. All this gets so confusing! Some say add iodine others say avoid iodine…

  • Jessica says

    I’m confused by this a little. As I understand it goitrogens decrease uptake of iodine which decreases the thyroids ability to make T-4. Lowering T-4 will increase Tsh. I understand that removing raw vegetable can be an issue for nutrient absorption but if someone is having daily servings of goitrogens won’t this cause a decrease in t-4?

    • Mickey Trescott says

      Hi Jessica,
      I don’t think research shows the link is as clear cut as that. I’d recommend reading some of the sources linked in my article for more information! I don’t think consuming goitrogenic veggies, in moderation is problematic for most people, even those with thyroid issues.

  • sripriya says

    I wanted to know about millets.is it good to have millets for thyroid patient,who has TPOantibodies is 236. Please, I am confused whether to give millets or not. For people who have both thyroid and diabetes, millets are good for diabetes but not for thyroid. Then what else I can give again gluten is also not good( wheat ). Please help…

    • Mickey Trescott says

      Hi there,
      Unfortunately Angie and I are not medical practitioners and can’t advise on medical conditions. Millet is a grain, and not included on the autoimmune protocol. As always, we recommend avoiding any foods you have a poor experience with. Hope it helps!

  • Janakiraman Rajalakshmi says

    It so happened only today I happened to come across this wonderful article by you clearing lot of my doubts & fears.

    Thank you very very very very much Mickey Trescott !!!

  • Sharon Chase says

    This is great to know….there are way too many foods to avoid. I also have Hashimoto’s which is now negatively affecting my eyes so I have now started your protocol. I have also done the Makers Diet and Dr. Axe with some success especially with severe cramps and bloating. I am hoping to cure my Hashimoto’s which regular doctors say isn’t possible. Thanks for giving me more hope for a healthier life.

    • Mickey Trescott says

      Hi Sharon – I’m rooting for you!

  • Mai says

    Goitrogens in food as well as allergens (night shades and nuts and sees in general as a rule) cause an irritated feeling in my thyroid (at night after the liver has tried to process everything) as well as in my nose cartilage and sinuses. I tried every food life style possible but the only food which really gives me a good energetic feeling is non-goitrogenic as well as low fat, low protein, high carb plant based in its most raw state. Very spartan like food life style but it works for me at least as long as my goal is: being energetic.

    • Mickey Trescott says

      Hi Mai! Thanks for sharing your experience. Does this happen when you eat cruciferous goitrogenic vegetables, or all goitrogenic vegetables (like strawberries and sweet potatoes?).

  • […] Mickey from Autoimmune Wellness — who eats AIP (Auto Immune Protocol) goitrogenic foods in moderate amounts […]

  • Jess S says

    I just found your website from our Naturopath and it looks great. I’ve been following Dr. Andrew Weil since the 90’s so at 49, things are going well nutritionally for me. However, I really want to support my husband who did food sensitivity testing for gut inflammation and extra weight around his waist last March and discovered that broccoli, cauliflower and brussels sprouts (among many others) are on his +1 sensitivity list. How would you approach someone like this? In looking at your protocol, he was dismayed to see that many of the things he is currently eating are on the NO list and many sensitivities are on the YES list… curious how to integrate this so I can support him with different satisfying recipes. Thanks.

  • Nikki E. says

    Hi, I hope it’s not a problem that I’m commenting on a really old blog, but I’m working on a major nutritional project for my family and basically to save my life, and I found your article. I enjoyed it, and I’d like to jump on board, but there’s a problem with your theory. You say that these foods are not the problem, the goiter goes away when a person addresses her/his autoimmune-based Hashimoto’s thyroiditis (for the record, I don’t think I ate these foods and got thyroid disease, I just think that now that I have it, I’m concerned about anything that could inhibit healing). Unfortunately, I’m a walking hole in your theory. I’ve been under the care of an excellent holistic doctor and nutritionist for almost two years, and the results are very clear: I have a thyroid goiter the size of my entire right thyroid lobe, my thyroid has given up producing any hormone of its own, and I have no antibodies suggesting Hashimoto’s. I have hypothyroidism and a goiter; it is not an autoimmune condition. It very well may be the result of genes combined with a long period of extreme stress leading to adrenal fatigue, and possibly also toxicity from foods and from the environment. I wanted you to know this because I want you to realize that everyone does not have the same thyroid condition with the same origin. I am going with eating them, but cooking them (maybe not so much with strawberries). Most of what I’ve read suggests the risk lowers substantially when these foods are cooked. Thanks.

    • Mickey Trescott says

      Hi Nikki! Thanks for being here. I think you’ve misunderstood me – I don’t say Hashimoto’s is the only cause of goiter. I do say that for those with Hashi’s and a goiter, it usually improves with treatment. I’m glad you are working with a doctor on your complex case, and wish you healing!

  • Ms Lu says

    As Dr. Kharrazian points out in his most recent article, goiters are not caused by iodine deficiency or by eating goitrogens — they are caused by the inflammation …

    The above is incorrect. I have a thyroid goiter of about 3.4cm, just last month after eating kale for 2 times,
    1st time I steamed it, 2nd time made it into salad mixed with apples and a bit of lemon. A week later
    I noticed my goiter increased visibly in size, I tried to eat more iodine rich food to stop the problem.
    I have never eaten kale in the past.

    • Mickey Trescott says

      Hi Lu! Sorry to hear of your experience! I’m guessing that your swelling may have been coincidental and possibly due to something else in your environment? I don’t think the goitrogenic effects are that potent in this vegetable, especially cooked, to give you that effect with only eating it twice. Have you ever eaten other goitrogenic foods, like broccoli, cabbage, sweet potato, or strawberries, and do they give you the same effect? I hope you are feeling better now!

  • Jill Johnson says

    Hi, are you aware of any issues with flax seed OIL and autoimmune thyroid or hypothyroid?


    • Mickey Trescott says

      Hi Jill,
      If you are asking about the elimination diet, flaxseed oil is omitted because it comes from a seed. It is something you can start with in early reintroduction stages, and if you find it tolerable it should be fine.

  • kath says

    It’s not responsible to just give one side of the story. For many people, these foods inhibit the thyroid and cause symptoms within a short time. For me, it’s not being able to go to sleep – often all night. But it’s not easy to connect the symptoms to the cause. Why not mention the other side so people are aware of what to look for in case their thyroid is too sensitive for these foods?

    • Mickey Trescott says

      Hey Kath! I’m not giving just one side of the story – this is an article I’ve written based on my research, working with coaching clients, and my personal experience. I have not found these symptoms you talk about to be caused by the goitrogenic effect of foods, but other compounds in certain foods that also happen to be goitrogens. Most folks don’t react to strawberries or sweet potatoes. I think a lot of folks don’t tolerate cruciferous vegetables, but not because of their goitrogen component. I believe vegetables are important, and there isn’t a reason to avoid them unless there is a specific intolerance. Hence the myth-busting!

  • Lucy says

    Hi I’m skinny, but I’m always bloated I like like 8month pregnant, what can I do?

    • Mickey Trescott says

      Hey Lucy! I would suggest working with a functional medicine practitioner to troubleshoot the possibility of SIBO or another gut infection. Bloating is a huge sign there!

  • Robert says

    This post is incredibly misleading. Cruciferous vegetables can absolutely give you a tightness and pinchy feeling in your throat. I’ve trialed this myself time and time and time again over the past 5 years. I have no other reaction to these vegetables other than getting a rush of healthy tingles and mental clarity. There is nothing else outside of the negative effects on goiters these veggies have. Anytime I get a tightness feeling I go through all ingredients. Always is traced to a goitrogenic food.

    • Mickey Trescott says

      Hey Robert! I’m not doubting that cruciferous veggies cause problems for folks, I’m saying it is likely not due to the goitrogenic effect of these foods. Cruciferous veggies and goitrogens are two separate categories. Do you get the same feeling from strawberries and sweet potatoes? If not, your reaction is likely due to some other compound in the food (perhaps the sulfur?).

  • M. Alvarez says

    I think it is irresponsible to write articles telling Hashimoto sufferers to eat cruciferous veggies and goitrogens. It is possible that some Hashimoto sufferers may not notice or may not react to them, but others certainly do. I do. I was having the worst adverse reactions, without knowing it was due to consuming them, until I stopped eating them. Hashimoto is way too serious of a health problem to simply state that your article is based on studies, ignoring what the readers, who happen to be patients are saying. Doctors and health professionals simply do not listen to their patients and hence the deep frustration for those of us who suffer this ailment.

    • Mickey Trescott says

      Hey M! There is a big misconception that folks react to cruciferous veggies because they are goitrogens. Do you react the same way to strawberries and sweet potatoes? I am not denying that people have real intolerances to certain foods, but I do think it is harmful for people to write off a whole category of vegetables because of a recommendation that is based on flawed science. You may be one of the many folks who doesn’t tolerate cruciferous veggies, maybe from the sulfur, but often this is not is from their goitrogenic components. Wishing you luck on your journey.

  • Jennie R says

    I just found your website. My son is on the Paleo diet already. My question is what can I eat? I have Type II Diabetes and am on a low Oxilate diet. It is very frustrating.

  • Sumiyeh says

    I’ve been trying to eat foods that I *thought* were good for Hashimoto’s–the list seems to be growing if I don’t keep reading though! For example, you include sweet potatoes and walnuts. In other sources, it says that cruciferous veggies are alright to eat in moderation if cooked. Is there any particular condition for the sweet potato and walnut to lessen their goitrogenic capacity?

    • Mickey Trescott says

      Hey Sumiyeh,
      I’m not sure if I understand your question. I think it is fine to eat sweet potatoes and cruciferous veggies, you just might not want to juice them. If you are doing the Autoimmune Protocol, you will want to avoid nuts until you have determined they are tolerable via reintroduction. Hope it helps!

  • […] Goitrogens If you’re avoiding goitrogens for a thyroid condition, generally my advice would be not to worry. However, if you are worried, lightly steaming your broccoli may decrease any goitrogenic effect. For more on goitrogens and thyroid, see here. […]

  • noemi romano says

    I would definitely agree with the aspect that juicing raw veggies with goitotrens can cause a big problem with thyroid function. years back I had an undiagnosed thyroid and because of my being sick all the time, I decided to become a vegan and sometimes raw vegan. I thought, the more the merrier and would juice spinach, broccoli, cabbage etc… I could NOT understand how all these raw vegans were the picture of health and their bodies healed from cancers and chronic illness. Stubborn me pushed forward for almost 10 years, thinking the horrible symptoms I was experiencing ( thyroid crashes, weight loss from high heart rate, not being able to breathe correctly- spastic breathing, anxiety and panic attacks) were just “detox” symptoms. After 9 years, got angry and left that lifestyle. The symptoms bettered but then eventually came back causing me to search more and finding out I had Hashimotos. Looking back now, its sad that I suffered so much. I did look great and in some aspects felt great…till I didn’t. I KNOW it was all from the juicing part as my saying was, “The better I eat, the worse I feel, I don’t get it” To me the mentality was I had to go all out and juice everything. I know hear these ladies speaking of eating it all moderately and I see they got it right. Everyone is different so you have to trial and error it out. I am still leery but am willing to try and change as I want to be healthy again, stable and anxiety free especially as I’m turning 50 now and starting to battle anxiety with hormone fluctuations. I do green smoothies with non-goitotrenic greens and fruits every now and then, but mostly focus on trying to eat grain- free and healthy. Thanks to you for your invaluable info!

  • Rosamond says

    I disagree with your take on goitergenic foods being a myth. Totally, disagree. I have autoimmune disease and have found that the list of non goitergenic foods works for my needs. I feel my throat swell the minute I eat a goitergenic food. Fasting for a day and then slowly incorporate a food back into your diet and see how you feel. Look for itching and notice swelling of the throat. For years, I didn’t pay attention. Now, I’ve got a handle on what makes me go into hyperthyroidism or goiter swellling. Guess what, Coriander seeds steeped in warm water is the best thing to get you well. I don’t make a dime telling you that.

    • Mickey Trescott says

      Hi Rosamond! I’d be curious, do you get the same effect when you eat strawberries or sweet potatoes? Some people do react to some of these foods, but I suspect not because of their goitrogenic capability – for instance, a lot of folks are sensitive to the high sulfur content in cruciferous veggies (like kale and cabbage).

    • Mer says

      Thank you very much for the tip on Coriander seeds, it is much appreciated.

  • K. says

    I actually have goiter and am NOT Hashimoto’s. Nor do I have any other thyroid disease. My antibodies and ALL thyroid numbers are normal. I can not say that I agree with your statement that “they are caused by the inflammation from chronic autoimmune thyroid disease (Hashimoto’s).” For those people that have that particular condition, it might be their cause of their goiter, but there are other causes of goiter not being discussed here.

    • Mickey Trescott says

      Hi K! This article is about foods that could be classified as goitrogens, but not goiter specifically. Wishing yo the best.

  • Beverly says

    I also was also happy to hear that goitrenogens were a myth. I have had quite a lot of confusion around this whole goiter issue. I had a goiter in the right lobe of my thyroid that was so big it was displacing my trachea to the left and caused a change in my voice. My thyroid levels strangely are and have always been completely normal. My ANA is normal and has never been elevated. Therefore, I was told I did not have thyroid disease of any kind! Really? I was told my goiter was low iodine but there was no testing and by the way, I LOVE fish! It makes no sense. When they did the surgery, they wanted to remove both lobes. I refused. All tests-T3 and 4 and ANA are normal. They wouldn’t call it Hashimotos. However, following the AIP has helped immensely with this and my other inflammatory issues-IC, Fibromyalgia and arthritis. Also IBS. Previous to starting AIP, my left thyroid lobe started to have that hot pin prick feeling that preceded the other side growing. They called them cold nodules. After switching to AIP, that stopped. (I also lost 35 pounds without trying) My question is-do I have Hashimotos or not? It does run in my family.
    Thank you for all you do Mickey! I’ll be seeing you speak next Sunday.

    • Mickey Trescott says

      Hi Beverly! I am so happy you found this helpful. To be honest, I am not able to tell you if you have Hashimoto’s or not – you need a doctor to determine that! You don’t mention if you’ve ever had your thyroid antibodies checked, and if you haven’t, I would start there! Wishing you luck.

  • Joyce Kelley says

    I don’t think it is safe to make sweeping statements about cruciferous Foods not being bad. Recently my TSH starting climbing and got up to 4.95. The only thing I was doing different was eating lots of kale salads and broccoli coke slaw. I cut those out and my TSH dropped to 1.3. So I wouldn’t rule out what these vegetables can do to some people.

    • Mickey Trescott says

      Hi Joyce! I’m not making any sweeping statements, just educating folks that it is actually more complex than they realize. My question to you is: do you get the same effect from eating strawberries and sweet potatoes? I’d guess that if not, you are reacting to some other compound in the cruciferous vegetables. Hope it helps!

  • […] Goitrogens If you’re avoiding goitrogens for a thyroid condition, generally my advice would be not to worry. However, if you are worried, lightly steaming your broccoli may decrease any goitrogenic effect. For more on goitrogens and thyroid, see here. […]

  • […] Goitrogens If you’re avoiding goitrogens for a thyroid condition, generally my advice would be not to worry. However, if you are worried, lightly steaming your broccoli may decrease any goitrogenic effect. For more on goitrogens and thyroid, see here. […]

  • Sarah says

    None of your references to this article are scholared or peer reviewed science. Your article is misinforming and dangerous. In my own experience along with many clinical settings (please utilize pubmed for reliable information) goitrogens cause an immediate hypo response in many patines. With that said, this is due to the lack of iodine. This is dangerous for you to say that these foods have no negative effect on those with hypothyroidism because it’s scientifically proven so…. besides, if I eat any of the foods you listed as myths, it would put my heart rate somewhere are 39 bpm and I’d end up in the ER.

    • Mickey Trescott says

      Hi Sarah! I understand you have some reactions to foods you may be attributing to a goitrogenic effect, but science has actually not made this connection as clearly as some claim. Do you get the same effect from eating strawberries? I would check out this article from Dr. Sarah Ballantyne that covers the same material and has lots of references: https://www.thepaleomom.com/goitrogens-cruciferous-vegetables-thyroid-disease/

  • Michael says

    Is there a comprehensive list of goitrogenic concentrations in foods?

    • Mickey Trescott says

      Hi Michael! We don’t recommend removing goitrogenic foods from the diet here!

  • Caroline says

    Hi Mickey, thanks for the article. I have had multiple thyroid nodules and a goiter for several years, but my TSH always tends to be in the normal range. I don’t want to simply wait for it to develop into hypothyroidism along with larger goiter, but am unsure at this point what I need to be doing. Do you see this very often and/or have any suggestions on direction I should take? Appreciate any feedback!

    • Mickey Trescott says

      Hi Caroline! I’m sorry to hear about your thyroid issues! Unfortunately, I’m not a medical provider, and I can’t advise through comments. My suggestion would be to seek out an AIP Certified Coach to take your history and make some personal recommendations. You can find a listing here: http://aipcertified.com

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