In the last blog post I spoke about 5 power foods for hyperthyroidism and Graves’ Disease, and so it’s only fair that I put together a blog post where I discuss 5 power foods for hypothyroidism and Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis. Remember that this list isn’t all-inclusive, as there are other foods which are nutrient dense that can benefit people with hypothyroid conditions. Also, keep in mind that while I intentionally left off cruciferous vegetables because of the stigma they receive by many people with hypothyroidism due to their goitrogenic properties, many people with hypothyroid conditions can eat normal amounts of cruciferous vegetables.
Keep in mind that not everyone with hypothyroidism and Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis will be able to eat all of these “power foods”. For example, the first power food I listed is coconut oil, and while most people do fine when eating this, if someone has a condition such as small intestinal bacterial overgrowth then they might not be able to consume coconut oil, along with other coconut products. Obviously everyone is different, and while most people with hypothyroid conditions can eat the foods I’ve listed, there are always exceptions. So with that being said, let’s go ahead and talk about these power foods.
Power Food #1: Coconut Oil. Because coconut oil is a saturated fat, many people still try to avoid this oil out of fear that saturated fats can cause heart disease. Of course this isn’t proven in the latest research, and the evidence actually shows that coconut oil can lower lipid levels in serum and tissues and LDL oxidation by physiological oxidants (1). Another study demonstrated that coconut oil has anti-inflammatory, analgesic, and antipyretic (can reduce fever) properties (2). The anti-inflammatory properties can be especially beneficial for those with autoimmune thyroid conditions. Coconut oil is also one of the fats you can safely cook with.
Lauric acid is the main ingredient of coconut oil that offers some wonderful benefits. In addition to the benefits I already listed above, coconut oil also has antimicrobial properties due to lauric acid, which converts into monolaurin (3) (4) (5). Lauric acid also has insulinotropic properties (6), which means it helps stimulate the production of insulin. Another study showed that lauric acid present in coconut oil might protect against diabetes-induced dyslipidemia (7).
There are some sources which demonstrate that coconut oil can speed up the metabolism, and thus benefit people with hypothyroidism. In fact, a few sources claim that coconut oil can cure hypothyroidism. Although coconut oil might have a positive benefit on the metabolism, keep in mind that most cases of hypothyroidism have an autoimmune component, and just taking coconut oil isn’t going to address this. But with that being said, due to some of the other health benefits I mentioned earlier, coconut oil should be consumed by most people with thyroid and autoimmune thyroid conditions. I recommend for most people with thyroid and autoimmune thyroid conditions to consume at least one tablespoon of coconut oil per day.
Power Food #2: Avocados. Avocados are one of most nutrient dense foods, and so eating an avocado per day can help to provide many nutrients, and comes with other health benefits as well. Current research has shown that avocado seeds may improve hypercholesterolemia, and can be useful in the treatment of hypertension, inflammatory conditions and diabetes (8). Seeds have also been found to possess insecticidal, fungicidal, and anti-microbial activities (8). Avocado oil consists of 71% monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFA), 13% polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA), and 16% saturated fatty acids (SFA), which helps to promote healthy blood lipid profiles and enhance the bioavailability of fat soluble vitamins and phytochemicals from the avocado or other fruits and vegetables, naturally low in fat, which are consumed with avocados (9). A recent study showed that avocado consumption is associated with improved overall diet quality, nutrient intake, and reduced risk of metabolic syndrome (10). If you are unable to purchase organic avocados, the good news is that avocados are currently on the “Clean Fifteen” list of the Environmental Working Group, which means that non-organic avocados are lower in pesticides when compared to other fruits and vegetables.
Power Food #3: Bone Broth. Bone broth involves boiling the bones of animals, and it is very nutrient dense. In addition, bone broth includes amino acids which can help to reduce inflammation and heal the gut. This can be essential for someone who has Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis, as many people with this condition have a leaky gut. And some researchers feel that everyone with any type of autoimmune condition has a leaky gut. I’m not sure if this is true, but regardless of whether or not someone has a leaky gut, drinking bone broth can be beneficial. And if someone does in fact have a leaky gut, then drinking a few cups of bone broth can help with the healing process, assuming the trigger which caused the leaky gut in the first place has been removed.
How much bone broth should someone drink on a daily basis? If someone has received a positive test for a leaky gut then drinking at least 2 or 3 cups of bone broth daily would be a good idea. If someone has an autoimmune condition and doesn’t know if they have a leaky gut, I would recommend drinking at least one or two cups per day, although more than this would be fine. Of course the quality of the bone broth is important. For example, if you are drinking beef bone broth then I would make sure the bones are from cows which were 100% grass fed.
Power Food #4: Asparagus: Asparagus possesses a variety of biological properties, as they are rich in antioxidants, plus they are anti-inflammatory, antihepatotoxic, antibacterial, and antioxytocic (11). Asparagus can also protect the liver cells against toxins and might even help to alleviate alcoholic hangovers (12). This plant also contains vitamins A, B1, B2, C, E, magnesium, phosphorus, calcium, iron, and folic acid (11). Other primary chemical constituents of Asparagus are essential oils, asparagine, arginine, tyrosine, flavonoids (kaempferol, quercetin, and rutin), resin, and tannin (11). Just as is the case with avocados, asparagus is also currently on the “Clean Fifteen” list from the Environmental Working Group.
Power Food #5: Garlic. Garlic has many different health benefits, and while some people are unable to tolerate garlic, for those who are able to eat garlic I recommend doing so on a frequent basis. With regards to autoimmune conditions such as Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis (as well as Graves’ Disease), garlic can help to decrease proinflammatory cytokines and suppress nuclear factor kappa B (13) (14), which are both factors in autoimmune conditions. In addition, many people are aware of the antimicrobial properties of garlic, as garlic can help to eradicate bacteria such as H. Pylori, and in some cases can even be effective against strains which are antibiotic resistant (15). Garlic also has antifungal and antiparasitic activities (16) (17), and of course pathogens can play a role in thyroid autoimmunity.
How much garlic should you eat on a daily basis? Well, it really does depend on the person, as if someone has a known infection then they should be eating more garlic than someone without an infection, and probably should also consider taking a garlic supplement on a daily basis. Eating one or two cloves of garlic when having an infection would also be wise, and eating a clove of garlic per day would benefit those without an infection, as garlic can help to prevent infections as well.
So if you have a hypothyroid condition then I would consider incorporating most, if not all of these power foods. Avocados and coconut oil are healthy types of fats, and both have anti-inflammatory properties. Bone broth can benefit those who have a leaky gut, which is a component in many people with Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis. And some sources claim that everyone with an autoimmune condition has a leaky gut, which would make bone broth even more important. Asparagus has numerous properties which can be beneficial, and garlic is one of the most beneficial foods.