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Is Eating Kale Bad for my Thyroid?

Harvard thyroid Doc says risk is ‘theoretical’ ‘very remote’

Could eating kale increase your risk of developing thyroid problems? A recent opinion column in the New York Times by Jennifer Berman suggested that eating kale and other cruciferous vegetables may have had a part in her developing hypothyroidism. But Dr. Jeffrey Garber, the Chief of Endocrinology at Harvard Vanguard Medical Associates disagrees, he says that your chances of developing hypothyroidism from eating kale are very low to miniscule.

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Your risk of developing hypothyroidism from eating kale is almost nonexistent

Note: Jennifer Berman’s doctor never told her to stop eating kale! That’s a conclusion she came to after reading things on the internet. Always talk to your doctor if you’re planning to make big changes in your diet.

A pound of kale a day unlikely to cause a problem

So how much kale is too much? Probably more than you could stand to eat. Even if you consumed a pound of raw kale a day for years, you are very unlikely to develop thyroid problems. The key to avoiding thyroid problems is to get enough iodine in your diet. If you live in the US, you are almost certainly getting enough iodine in your diet.

Main Risk Factors for Hypothyroidism

If you are concerned about hypothyroidism, the primary risk factors are:

    • Family history of hyperthyroidism

    • Certain viral infections

    • Age and Gender – Hypothyroidism is most common in women over 60

  • Iodine deficiency

Even if you have these risk factors, it’s still ok to eat kale. According to Teresa Fung, an adjunct professor of nutrition at the Harvard School of Public Health: “normal, reasonable amounts of eating should not be a problem.”

Should you talk to your doctor about Kale?

Talk to your doctor if you already have thyroid problems, or are taking thyroid medication. Even then, it’s very likely that your doctor will tell you not to worry.

How Cruciferous Vegetables like Kale can affect your thyroid

Cruciferous vegetables like kale can be goitrogenic meaning they can contribute to an enlarged thyroid in a thyroid that isn’t functioning properly. There are two reasons for this: First, the hydrolysis – chemical breakdown caused by water – of compounds in cruciferous vegetables called glucosinolates can produce a chemical called goitrin, which can interfere with the synthesis of hormones in the thyroid. Second, the hydrolysis of a second kind of glucosinolate compounds in cruciferous vegetables causes the release of thiocyanate ions, which can interfere with the thyroid’s ability to absorb iodine. But neither of these should be a problem for a person with a normally functioning thyroid. In fact, if you get adequate amounts of iodine in your diet (most people do) you have nothing to worry about.

Should you stop eating kale and cruciferous vegetables if you have hyperthyroidism?

Robyn Openshaw – The Green Smoothie Girl – was diagnosed with hypothyroidism at the age of 34. Robyn is a big fan of healthy smoothies that contain kale and other cruciferous vegetables. In fact, Robyn credits her healthy diet – which includes plenty of cruciferous vegetables – with restoring her thyroid to 80% functioning. She takes natural iodine and a bioidentical thyroid hormone for her thyroid every day. Robyn recommends that you seek the assistance of a bioidentical hormone practitioner if you are planning to seek a natural solution to your thyroid condition.

Cruciferous vegetables are part of a healthy diet

Kale, like all the cruciferous vegetables, is nutrient dense and fiber rich, and you should make them a part of your regular diet. Doctors frequently tell their patients to eat more vegetables, never to eat less. Your best bet for staying healthy is always to eat a well-rounded diet.

If you are concerned about goiter (an enlarged thyroid) there are ways to reduce the goitrogenic properties of kale and other cruciferous vegetables.

1. Cook Cruciferous Vegetables

The goitrogenic properties of cruciferous vegetables are significantly reduced when cooked. Cruciferous vegetables include: broccoli, brussel sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, collard greens, kohlrabi, mustard, rutabaga, turnips, bok choy Chinese cabbage, Arugula, horseradish, radish, wasabi, and watercress.

2. Eat Seaweed

Hypothyroidism is caused by a combination of factors; including iodine deficiency. Iodine deficiency is one of the most common causes of goiters. Seaweed is rich in iodine and other essential nutrients. Other foods naturally rich in iodine include: Yogurt, milk, eggs, and strawberries

3. Throw A Brazil Nut Into Your Smoothie

Brazil nuts are rich in selenium which helps support normal iodine levels.  A Brazil nut or two in your daily smoothie or as a topping to any dish is a great way to maintain a healthy of selenium in your diet.

4. Eat a Variety of  Greens

If you eat a lot of cruciferous vegetables one day, choose non-cruciferous vegetables the next day. Some great non-cruciferous vegetables include: cucumbers (highly alkalizing!) tomatoes and beets. Some other highly nutritious choices including celery, parsley, zucchini, and carrots. Your body thrives on a variety of vegetables because it needs a variety of nutrients for better health.

Two Healthy Smoothie Recipes made with Kale

Cruciferous vegetables like kale are clearly good for you, and should be a regular part of your diet. If you’re interested in adding beneficial cruciferous vegetables into your diet, here are two recipes for delicious smoothies made with kale

1. Alkaline Green Smoothie Delight

Handful of Kale Leaves

Handful of Spinach

Half a green pepper

Few mint leaves

Half a banana

2 medium size strawberries

Dash of stevia to taste

1 cup of water (preferably alkaline)

1 cup of ice


Add all ingredients to a blender and blend until smooth.  If it is still too thick, add more water.  Drink immediately.  Enjoy!

2. Alkaline Green Smoothie Madness

Handful of dandelion greens

Handful of collard greens

Celery stick

A few basil leaves

Dash of stevia

¼ cup of blueberries

1/4 cup raspberries or other berries of choice

¼ cup fresh squeezed orange juice (optional)

1-cup water (preferably alkaline)

Ice cubes


Add all ingredients to a blender and blend until smooth.  If it is still too thick, add more water.  Drink immediately.  Enjoy!

Want more healthy ideas for living alkaline? Call us today at 877-959-7977


Goldberg, C and Zimmerman, R. Thyroid Doc: Kale Risks ‘Theoretical’ But In Reality, Very Low To Minuscule. wbur’s CommonHealth N.D. Web 1/20/13


Goldberg, C and Zimmerman, R. The Dark Side Of Kale (And How To Eat Around It). wbur’s CommonHealth N.D. Web 1/20/13

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