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You Ask, I Answer: Broccoli, Sprouts, & Swiss Chard Bad for Thyroid Health?

Posted Jan 15 2010 10:00pm

broccoli-sproutsI would so appreciate it if you would comment on the raw broccoli/thyroid problem issue that I have come across on blogs.

I have been steaming my broccoli for the past year after reading far too many articles that state one should not eat it raw.

I trust your advise more than the anonymous blogs out there, and I would love your thought

– Michael (Last name unknown)
Via the blog

Is Swiss chard part of the brassica family?  I thought it was a chenopod.

My understanding is that all brassicas contain a goitrogen, but one that is killed off in cooking, unlike that in soy. Not that I can think of any time I’ve ever wanted to eat raw Swiss chard!

What about broccoli sprouts, though?

Are they better, worse or much the same as headed broccoli for those with thyroid issues?

– Polly (Last name unknown)
Via the blog

Michael: unless you have a thyroid condition, there is no need for you to worry about eating raw broccoli.

Cruciferous vegetables (including bok choy, broccoli, and kale), contain goitrogenic compounds called isothiocyanates, which can exacerbate already-existing thyroid issues.

Let’s make this very clear, though — cruciferous vegetables do not cause thyroid problems.  In fact, isothiocyanates are wonderfully healthy compounds that  have been linked to decreased risk for a number of cancers.

It’s worth pointing out, too, that even individuals with thyroid problems can still eat a limited cruciferous vegetables (no more than one and a half cups per week).

Cooking does indeed lower these vegetables’ goitrogen content  — by roughly a third.

Polly: Swiss chard is technically a member of the beet family.

However, since it contains a very similar nutrient profile to cruciferous vegetables, it is considered “one of the bunch” (in the same way that quinoa and amaranth are talked about as whole grains even though they are technically seeds).

One thing Swiss chard doesn’t provide that cruciferous vegetables do?  Isothiocyanates!

Broccoli sprouts, meanwhile, are very high in goitrogens — more so than raw broccoli florets.

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