Monday, May 7, 2012

Goitrogenic Foods and the Hypothyroid: How to Jam with Strawberries

When it comes to the gluten free diet, the list of foods to avoid is simple enough. True, the labeling of gluten-filled ingredients as additives can be difficult (Example: HFCS is not only made with corn; but with wheat and rice also), but in the purest sense, for a gluten free diet you avoid gluten. No wheat, no problem.

For those with a hypothyroid condition, however, there are other foods you need to consider: goitrogens, the thyroid's worst nightmare.

Raw Strawberries = Goitrogenic (source)

According to the World’s Healthiest Foods site: "Goitrogens are naturally-occurring substances that can interfere with function of the thyroid gland. Goitrogens get their name from the term 'goiter', which means an enlargement of the thyroid gland. If the thyroid gland is having difficulty making thyroid hormone, it may enlarge as a way of trying to compensate for this inadequate hormone production. Goitrogens, like circumstances that cause goiter, cause difficulty for the thyroid in making its hormone."

Oh dear.

The two categories of foods associated with this disruption thyroid hormone production are soybean-related and cruciferous foods. Not included in either category, such as strawberries, peaches, and millet, also contain goitrogens.
List of Goitrogenic Foods
Cruciferous veggies including:
  • Broccoli
  • Brussels sprouts
  • Cabbage
  • Cauliflower
  • Kale
  • Kohlrabi
  • Mustard
  • Rutabaga
  • Turnips
  • Millet
  • Peaches
  • Peanuts
  • Pears
  • Pinenuts
  • Radishes
  • Soybean and soy products, including tofu*
  • Spinach
  • Strawberries
  • Canola Oil

*From Alternative Therapies' ( "Hypothyroidism Foods to Avoid" on soy’s adverse affect on the thyroid: “Soy contains a hat trick of ways to tamper with your thyroid. It contains isoflavones, which can trigger thyroid antibodies creating an internal war of inflammation. Next…they can fake out the thyroid by masquerading as thyroid hormone, making an already low productive thyroid down right comatose. Finally, isoflavones can tackle block iodine, triggering a goiter.”

It was rather easy to avoid soy and gluten-based foods because of my intolerances to both, but I happen to like many of the foods listed as goitrogenic. Kale is my favorite leafy green veggie, and I absolutely adore Brussels sprouts. And peanut butter? My beloved peanut butter that pairs with the Granny Smith apple oh so well? What was a girl to do?

Why, you cook them of course.

Research studies are limited in this area, though cooking does appear to help inactivate the goitrogenic compounds in food. Isoflavones (found in soy) and isothiocyanates (found in cruciferous veggies) seem to be heat-sensitive, making cooking the ideal choice for lowering these thyroid-hurting substances. “In the case of isothiocyanates in cruciferous vegetables like broccoli,” states, “as much as one third of this goitrogenic substance may be deactivated when broccoli is boiled in water.”

So if you can’t live without these foods, such as is the case for me in regards to kale or peanut butter, make sure it is has been cooked in some way (and thoroughly) and consume in said cooked form no more than 2 – 3 times a week (or less).

Now, I like strawberries, and if you’ve read this far you know it’s a goitrogenic food. That means no fresh strawberries in smoothies, on top of CGF oatmeal, or mixed in yogurt. As far as oatmeal is concerned, I simply add it to the oats while cooking over the stovetop, so that's not a problem. But what happens when you have a “Buy 4 16 oz containers for $6” sale of strawberries to use up and you can’t eat them as is?

You give two to a family member to use as they please, and the remaining two is turned into a fruit spread of epic deliciousness. Sadly, I do not have a recipe for it, but it did leave me inspired with future jam/preserves and pickling ideas.

This particular spread has three ingredients: strawberry juice (I sieved the puree as best I could for a smooth consistency), freshly squeezed lemon juice, and honey. The result was an easy-to-spread jam, though I would have preferred it a tad thicker (i.e., leaving in the puree). And I also want to experiment with concentrated fruit juices and fruit pectin as sweetener replacements, so if anyone has experience with that please let me know.


  1. How do you cook peanut butter? I also LOVE Granny Smith apples with peanut butter!

    1. Technically, most peanut butter is roasted or cooked in some way, so I would think that there aren't many goitrogens left after the process. This list, I believe, meant raw peanuts, which can be boiled or roasted for your munching pleasure.