5 Best Foods & 5 Dietary Strategies for Hypothyroidism

by Ella

Hypothyroidism, characterized by an underactive thyroid gland, affects millions of individuals worldwide. This condition occurs when the thyroid gland fails to produce sufficient thyroid hormones, leading to a range of symptoms such as fatigue, weight gain, dry skin, and cold intolerance. While medication is the primary treatment for hypothyroidism, dietary choices can also play a significant role in supporting thyroid function and overall well-being. In this article, we’ll explore the best foods to eat for hypothyroidism, along with dietary strategies to optimize thyroid health.

Hypothyroidism and Diet

Before delving into specific foods, it’s essential to understand how hypothyroidism can impact dietary choices and nutrient metabolism. With hypothyroidism, the body’s metabolic rate slows down, leading to decreased energy expenditure and potential weight gain. Additionally, individuals with hypothyroidism may have altered nutrient absorption and metabolism, which can affect their nutritional needs.


Certain nutrients play a crucial role in thyroid function, including iodine, selenium, zinc, and vitamin D. Therefore, a balanced diet rich in these nutrients is essential for supporting thyroid health and optimizing hormone production. Moreover, focusing on whole, nutrient-dense foods can help manage weight and mitigate symptoms associated with hypothyroidism.


Optimizing Nutrient Intake

Iodine-Rich Foods: Iodine is a key component of thyroid hormones, and inadequate iodine intake can contribute to hypothyroidism. While iodized salt is a common source of iodine, it’s essential to incorporate other iodine-rich foods into your diet, such as seaweed (kelp, nori), seafood (fish, shrimp, shellfish), dairy products, and eggs. However, excessive iodine intake can exacerbate thyroid dysfunction, so it’s crucial to consume iodine in moderation, especially for individuals with autoimmune thyroid disorders like Hashimoto’s thyroiditis.


Selenium Sources: Selenium is an essential mineral that plays a vital role in thyroid hormone metabolism and antioxidant defense. Incorporating selenium-rich foods into your diet can help support thyroid function and reduce inflammation. Good sources of selenium include Brazil nuts, seafood (sardines, salmon, shrimp), organ meats (liver), poultry (chicken, turkey), eggs, and whole grains.


Zinc-Rich Foods: Zinc is another micronutrient that plays a role in thyroid hormone synthesis and immune function. Including zinc-rich foods in your diet can support optimal thyroid health. Foods high in zinc include oysters, beef, pork, poultry, nuts (cashews, almonds), seeds (pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds), legumes (chickpeas, lentils), and dairy products.

Vitamin D Sources: Vitamin D deficiency is common among individuals with hypothyroidism and has been associated with autoimmune thyroid disorders. Sunlight exposure is the primary source of vitamin D, but dietary sources include fatty fish (salmon, mackerel, tuna), egg yolks, fortified dairy products, and fortified cereals. Consider taking a vitamin D supplement if you have limited sun exposure or are deficient in vitamin D.

Omega-3 Fatty Acids: Omega-3 fatty acids have anti-inflammatory properties and may help reduce inflammation associated with autoimmune thyroid disorders. Fatty fish such as salmon, mackerel, trout, and sardines are excellent sources of omega-3s. Plant-based sources include flaxseeds, chia seeds, hemp seeds, walnuts, and algae-derived supplements.

See Also: 7 Best Foods for Thyroid Patients

Focusing on Whole Foods

In addition to specific nutrient-rich foods, emphasizing whole, minimally processed foods can provide a range of nutrients essential for thyroid health and overall well-being. Incorporate the following whole foods into your diet to support thyroid function:

1. Fruits and Vegetables: Colorful fruits and vegetables are rich in vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and fiber, which are beneficial for thyroid health and immune function. Aim to include a variety of fruits and vegetables in your diet, such as leafy greens, berries, citrus fruits, carrots, bell peppers, and cruciferous vegetables (cooked broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage).

2. Whole Grains: Whole grains like quinoa, brown rice, oats, barley, and buckwheat provide complex carbohydrates, fiber, and essential nutrients like selenium and zinc. These grains can help maintain stable energy levels and support overall health.

3. Lean Proteins: Incorporate lean protein sources into your diet to support muscle health, metabolism, and hormone production. Opt for lean cuts of poultry (chicken, turkey), fish, seafood, tofu, tempeh, legumes (beans, lentils), and low-fat dairy products.

4. Healthy Fats: Include healthy fats from sources like avocados, nuts, seeds, olive oil, and fatty fish to support hormone production, brain health, and inflammation control. These fats provide essential fatty acids and fat-soluble vitamins that are beneficial for thyroid function.

5. Probiotic-Rich Foods: Probiotics are beneficial bacteria that support gut health and immune function, which can be beneficial for individuals with autoimmune thyroid disorders. Incorporate probiotic-rich foods like yogurt, kefir, sauerkraut, kimchi, and kombucha into your diet to promote a healthy gut microbiome.

5 Dietary Strategies for Hypothyroidism

In addition to incorporating nutrient-rich foods and whole foods into your diet, consider the following dietary strategies to optimize thyroid health:

1. Limit Processed Foods: Processed foods often contain unhealthy fats, refined sugars, and additives that can contribute to inflammation and exacerbate symptoms of hypothyroidism. Minimize intake of processed foods like sugary snacks, fried foods, fast food, and packaged meals.

2. Moderate Goitrogenic Foods: Goitrogens are compounds found in certain foods that can interfere with thyroid function by inhibiting iodine uptake. While cooking can reduce the goitrogenic properties of these foods, it’s essential to consume them in moderation, especially if you have iodine deficiency or autoimmune thyroid disorders. Common goitrogenic foods include cruciferous vegetables (raw kale, broccoli, cauliflower), soy products, millet, and certain fruits (peaches, strawberries).

3. Monitor Gluten Intake: Some individuals with autoimmune thyroid disorders like Hashimoto’s thyroiditis may benefit from reducing or eliminating gluten-containing foods from their diet. Gluten, found in wheat, barley, rye, and their derivatives, has been linked to increased intestinal permeability (leaky gut) and autoimmune reactions in susceptible individuals. Consider a trial period of gluten avoidance to assess its impact on symptoms and thyroid health.

4. Stay Hydrated: Adequate hydration is essential for overall health and can help support thyroid function and metabolism. Aim to drink plenty of water throughout the day and limit intake of sugary beverages and caffeinated drinks, which can contribute to dehydration and exacerbate symptoms of hypothyroidism.

5. Monitor Calcium and Iron Intake: Calcium and iron supplements can interfere with thyroid hormone absorption when taken simultaneously with thyroid medication. If you take thyroid medication, consider taking calcium and iron supplements at least four hours apart from your medication dose to minimize potential interactions. Additionally, aim to include calcium-rich foods like dairy products and iron-rich foods like lean meats, poultry, fish, and legumes in your diet.

See also: 6 Foods to Avoid for Thyroid Patients


Optimizing your diet is an essential aspect of managing hypothyroidism and supporting thyroid health. By incorporating nutrient-rich foods, whole foods, and specific dietary strategies, you can provide your body with the necessary nutrients to support thyroid function, reduce inflammation, and mitigate symptoms associated with hypothyroidism.

It’s important to work closely with your healthcare provider, including a registered dietitian and endocrinologist, to develop a personalized dietary plan tailored to your individual needs and health goals. By making informed dietary choices and lifestyle modifications, you can take control of your health and enhance your overall well-being despite the challenges of hypothyroidism.



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