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Mary Shomon

Don't Like Certain Veggies? It May Be Your Thyroid Talking!

By September 20, 2006

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According to scientists at the Monell Chemical Senses Center, a nonprofit research institute that studies the senses of smell, taste and chemical irritation, our dislike for certain vegetables may result from particular genes that detect anti-thyroid toxins. In the study, which appears in the September 2006 issue of the journal Current Biology, researchers have found evidence that a particular taste receptor gene, known as TAS2R38, can detect glucosinolates, a particular type of compounds that are found in foods.

Glucosinolates are compounds that act as goitrogens and have an anti-thyroid effect by inhibiting the gland's ability to absorb iodine. Iodine is needed by the thyroid as a building block for thyroid hormone. It's thought that being able to detect -- and, due to an aversion, avoid -- glucosinolates found naturally in food could provide a biological advantage to the more than 1 billion people worldwide who have low iodine status, and face a risk of thyroid disease.

The study genotyped 35 participants into three groups: sensitive to glucosinolates, insensitive, and intermediate. The participants then rated the bitterness of vegetables, including 17 glucosinolate-containing vegetables (which included watercress, broccoli, bok choy, kale, kohlrabi, and turnip) and 11 non-glucosinolate foods included radicchio, endive, eggplant and spinach. (Click here for a complete list of the glucosinolate-containing antithyroid vegetables tested.)

Those who were "sensitive" rated the glucosinolate-containing vegetables as 60% more bitter the insensitive group. The groups rated the other vegetables equally bitter.

According to senior author Paul Breslin, "the sense of taste enables us to detect bitter toxins within foods, and genetically-based differences in our bitter taste receptors affect how we each perceive foods containing a particular set of toxins."

Breslin does not recommend eliminating goitrogenic vegetables from the diet however. Says Breslin: "The contents of the veggies are a double-edged sword, depending upon the physiological context of the individual eating them."

Source: Sandell, Mari A. and Paul A.S. Breslin. "Variability in a taste-receptor gene determines whether we taste toxins in food." Current Biology, 2006, 16, R792-R794.

September 22, 2006 at 8:27 am
(1) Julie Farel says:

I’ve had my thyroid removed and am now on synthetic hormone. Do I ~not~ eat these food now or are they okay to eat?? I’m still confused. But I have to say I have often detected extreme bitterness in some of these foods in the past.

September 22, 2006 at 8:41 am
(2) Patricia Carter says:

Are you familiar with a product called Juice Plus – is it benifical for Graves disease or should it be avoided.

September 22, 2006 at 9:02 am
(3) Maggie Eaves says:

I, too, am confused. I’ve had RAI, and am now on Armour. Do I eat plain salt or iodized? Do I avoid the veggies mentioned in this article or what?

September 22, 2006 at 9:58 am


September 23, 2006 at 11:29 am
(5) Christine Cadarett says:

The article mentions seventeen vegies to watch out for, but only five vegies are listed. Same with the non-gluc ones. Only a few are listed. Could we have the full list?

September 23, 2006 at 6:32 pm
(6) Catherine says:

When I was pregnant with my second child, I couldn’t stand either the smell or taste of Broccoli. I had been placed on Synthroid two years earlier. My doctor never changed my dose during the pregnancy. After reading this article, I wonder if my body was sending me a strong message because I needed more hormone than I was getting from the Synthroid.

September 27, 2006 at 11:17 am
(7) Mary Shomon / Thyroid Guide says:

I’ve been able to get the complete list of the 17 glucosinolate-containing antithyroid vegetables tested, and they are posted here online.

As for whether or not to eat these vegetables, that is something to decide with your practitioner.

But do keep in mind, cooking these vegetables usually eliminates or greatly diminishes the antithyroid effect.

September 28, 2006 at 11:25 am
(8) Linda says:

Can you explain what “anti-thyroid” means.

October 2, 2006 at 12:26 pm
(9) Andrea Carstens says:

I do not have thyroid disease. I eat broccoli,kale and cauliflower (one of these) almost daily. What quantity of these foods would you have to consume to produce a negative impact on your thyroid???

October 2, 2006 at 10:58 pm
(10) Nancy says:

Good question. Question #9 is right on; if you do like and eat these vegetables, does eating them have a potentially negative effect on the thyroid?

June 20, 2010 at 12:58 pm
(11) Brenda says:

While I understand the need to research the good and ill effects of everything we eat, it’s discouraging to know that now there are 17 vegetables that I shouldn’t eat because I am hypo/hashimoto’s. Well, I am going to continue to eat the foods on this list in extreme moderation – it’s bad enough having to limit my gluten intake, now I am told that a ton of veggies, including night shades, are bad for me. Good Grief.

June 21, 2010 at 12:04 pm
(12) Cara says:

I firmly beleive the above to be true. All through my childhood, my grandmother tried to coax and encourage me to eat cabbage and brussel sprouts on the grounds that they were “good for me” and of course, as I heartily disliked them and still do, I flatly refused – seems in view of the fact that my thyroid is now in freefall, I was wiser in instinct than she.

August 16, 2010 at 7:31 pm
(13) James says:

vegetable shredded finely and allowing dwell time shoed a reduction of glucosinolates of 75% after 6 hours. Boiling reduced glucosinolate by 90 % as leachate into the water. the glucosinolate and isothiocyanate are anticancer compounds at normal levels of ingestion.

April 22, 2011 at 10:26 pm
(14) catgross says:

This is just too hard. When person already has Gluten and Casein Sensitivities and this person already is diagnosed with being Celiac disease along with Hashimotos Thyroid Disease, which means you can’t eat Soy, and you also have Corn Sensitivities, and MSG is out altogether, and now you add a bunch a vegetables. What is a person supposed to eat? I use to love vacation time and finding a wonderful New restaurant to eat at. But I can’t because of all this restrictions to food, besides just cooking is not fun anymore. Life is not fun anymore. Itís unbearable, when there are so many restrictions to eating. An the Reality is. . . .Restaurants and Grocery stores are not going to change for just me, and I do not expect them too either. Itís just depressing. I use to love life and itís adventures, when it came to eating. Now it just boring.

July 9, 2011 at 11:49 am
(15) Chris says:

I know EXACTLY how you feel! This is my story as well. There are a lot of wonderful websites out there that offer glimmers of hope. The day after I finally received a confirmation on what I already knew to be my reality, this blog post was written.


While she can eat much more than you or I can, it gave me a different perspective to view my life now.

When I do eat out, I find that the nicer places are completely accommodating to my requests. I travelled most of June and had some wonderful food out in restaurants.

Good luck and may your journey towards restored health be a positive adventure!

June 12, 2012 at 9:50 am
(16) Kathleen says:

Thank you, Mary, for mentioning that cooking the vegetable usually diminished any anti-thyroid effect. I LOVE broccoli AND cauliflower AND turnips AND bok choy. Now I don’t have to give them up because I usually eat them cooked anyway. It is enough to avoid starches and high starch vegetables. This would have put me over the edge to find out that I couldn’t eat vegetables either. I am glad many lettuces are not listed, unless I missed something.

June 12, 2012 at 5:21 pm
(17) Monarh says:

I take my medication (Armour) at night so my body has a chance to absorb so I don’t think any goitrogens would interfere eating them at dinner time. I haven’t felt any different.

I also have a daily intake of Iodine in my diet. I found an online Iodine group that has testimonies that the antibodies diminished with an intake of Iodine so I’m hoping that I have the same results. I have had good things happen with the intake of IOdine. My Tsh remained lower than my FT3 & FT4 so I feel that I’m receiving good results there but feeling the good results is even more rewarding. Since I absorb my medication at night then I find that no amt of fiber gets in the way either for me. Fiber is important for the body & I won’t give it up.

June 12, 2012 at 7:25 pm
(18) Sandy says:

I love broccoli, cabbage, watercress and spinach. Loved spinach since I was a baby, crave it now and then. I have taken armour thyroid for years. I used to have a goiter, it has shrunk in the last year or two since I’ve been on adrenal supplements. I’m confused, whats your advice?

July 23, 2012 at 7:22 pm
(19) BZ says:

Is there anywhere these requests for lists are answered. I came here because a search showed this as a place to find answers. I find a lot of questions, but nowhere on the site where they are specifically answered???????

February 5, 2013 at 7:34 am
(20) Ann says:

I have a 2.1 cm nodule on my thyroid ( last FNB numbers were 2009), started at 0.5cm in 2005. I have Stage IIIA Breast Cancer with lymph involvement.In AC treatment now ( chemo). Oncologist has me on iron( low ferittin). I eat a lot of brocolli although it always ! gives me hiccups. Spinach every other day.. many greens. Should I cut back? WHat would be some more acceptable greens? Some mouth sores and diarrhea so avoiding salads and raw items.

April 27, 2013 at 5:06 pm
(21) pam says:

i have an underactive thyroid.does all this basically mean i cant eat broccolli sprouts cabbage cauliflower etc.,?if i do what effect will it have on me?will i put on more weight for instance?
i have already given up pears and strawberries i find i am more tired on limited vegetables.

January 14, 2014 at 10:29 am
(22) K says:

This is a study on the bitterness levels in food, not on how, or even if, specific vegetables affect the thyroid. Show medical or scientific studies that speak directly to cruciferous vegetables and the thyroid, or drop this nonsense about certain vegetables and the thyroid. You are coming dangerously close to giving out medical advice without a medical license to do so.

January 20, 2014 at 10:52 am
(23) vinn says:

If you cook your crociferous vegetables, they are fine to eat even if you have thyroid issues. The bitterness in vegetables diminishes upon cooking as does their effect on the thyroid.

February 2, 2014 at 8:57 pm
(24) Tschaller says:

I have Hashi-Hypo and take Nature-Throid. The only veggie I bake, eat regularly and LOVE is Kale!!! If baked is it ok to eat? Ugh, it is my new chocolate. I have more energy when I eat it and find I don’t crave junk food and chocolate. Please tell me that it won’t impact me as negatively as it sounds.

March 23, 2014 at 5:50 pm
(25) Brian says:

I’ve just been researching over the last few days about how good Cruciferous veg is for you, now it’s apparently not ! I take Thyroxine but have never had classic symptoms of low thyroid, so I’m staying with plan A.

April 5, 2014 at 11:17 pm
(26) songhope says:

I have recently been researching this topic because years ago I was told I had borderline thyroid readings but not low enough for a prescription. Started on 2 kelp tablets (Nature’s Way, 2 = 800 mcg iodine). Worked GREAT for 10 years. But I recently started raw green smoothies for health, with lots of fresh fruit and veggies. After a couple months I couldn’t figure out why my energy was so low and I gained weight! Sluggish – sleeping 10-11 hrs! Researched & discovered the problem with goitrogenic foods interfering with thyroid hormone. Whether absorption or production, I can’t remember now. I LOVE these veggies and want the nutrition! Discovered I can mitigate the effects by cooking in low-boiling water, NOT STEAMING! You must get the veggie in the water! Be sure to pour out the water! Steaming is acceptable but less effective at removing or neutralizing the goitrogenic compounds. If you DON’T have a thyroid issue, don’t worry about all this! But for me, eating these raw every day for months was reducing thyroid hormone. Cooking my kale helped a lot! Also, soy protein- same problem – daily for years! Not good for thryoid!!

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