The Best Foods to Eat for a Healthy Thyroid

By Danielle McAvoy, MSPH, RD
August 2, 2022

The thyroid is the metabolism's control center. It’s part of the endocrine system, which regulates energy levels, reproduction, growth, mood, and how the body responds to stress and injury. An over or underactive thyroid can cause a range of symptoms like weight changes, fatigue, and difficulty concentrating, so it’s essential to support healthy thyroid function with good nutrition.

What exactly does the thyroid do?

The thyroid regulates metabolism by releasing thyroid hormones that tell your cells how much energy to use. It calculates how much food you eat with how much energy you expend so you burn calories at a healthy rate. 

If your thyroid releases too much of the hormones, your metabolism speeds up and you burn energy too quickly. That can lead to weight loss, difficulty concentrating, an increased heartbeat, fatigue, nervousness, sensitivity to heat, and diarrhea. For women, an overactive thyroid can affect the menstrual cycle and fertility. 

If your thyroid doesn’t make enough of the hormones, your metabolism slows, and your body stores energy. The result is weight gain, lethargy, joint pain, a depressed mood, sensitivity to cold, constipation, dry skin, and hair loss. 

Genetic diseases, exposure to toxins, or for women, being postpartum can cause an over or underactive thyroid. The sudden drop in hormones, lack of sleep, depleted nutrients, and stress associated with childbirth and caring for a newborn cause many postpartum women to develop subclinical hypothyroidism. 

Fortunately, a balanced diet that prioritizes a few essential nutrients can help support healthy thyroid function.

What foods support a healthy thyroid?

Eating a balanced and varied diet is the best way to support a healthy thyroid. Look for foods that are good sources of Iodine, selenium, and zinc, key minerals required for healthy thyroid function.

Foods rich in Iodine: 

  • Cod
  • Eggs
  • Iodized table salt 
  • Seaweed - kelp, nori, wakame, etc.
  • Shrimp
  • Dairy products 

    Taking an iodine supplement is likely unnecessary, as consuming too much iodine can worsen hypo and hyperthyroidism. 

    Foods rich in selenium :
  • Beef, turkey, and chicken
  • Brazil nuts (just 1- 2 nuts have all the selenium you need in a day)
  • Brown rice
  • Eggs
  • Oats
  • Shrimp
  • Tuna and halibut

Foods rich in zinc :

  • Chicken, dark meat only
  • Crab
  • Eggs
  • Fortified cereals
  • Lean beef and pork
  • Oysters 
  • Pumpkin seeds

Other nutrients play a supporting role in thyroid function. B vitamins and iron boost energy production, and potassium help make cells more sensitive to thyroid hormones. 

Food can both support and impair thyroid function
Highly processed foods, like packaged snacks, sugary cereals, frozen meals, and commercial baked goods don’t provide the nutrients needed to support thyroid function and can disrupt gut health, which makes it difficult to metabolize food. Insulin is needed to produce the T3 hormone, so extreme low-carb diets may impact thyroid function.

Territory meals are rich in foods that keep your thyroid healthy and help keep you going all day long.

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