Your thyroid gland secretes hormones that control how your body uses energy. Low levels of thyroid hormones decrease metabolic rate, a medical condition called hypothyroidism. Foods, including broccoli, contain chemicals called goitrogens that decrease the use of iodine by the body. Foods containing goitrogens can further lower thyroid hormone levels in patients with hypothyroidism. Cooking degrades goitrogens, so eat only cooked broccoli if you have hypothyroidism.
Thyroid Function and Metabolism
Thyroid hormones are a major regulator of metabolism, the balance of energy in the body. Metabolism has two aspects: catabolism, the breakdown of stores to free energy and nutrients; and anabolism, the storage of free energy and nutrients in body tissues. Thyroid hormones promote catabolism by stimulating the body to release energy stores from fat, muscle and other tissues.
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Hypothyroidism is the underproduction of thyroid hormones. You may experience symptoms such as lower body temperature; puffiness in the face, ankles and hands; fatigue; muscle pain or weakness; depression and unexplained weight gain. Hypothyroidism has several causes. Your doctor will examine you and run tests to determine the cause of hypothyroidism and the appropriate treatment.
Iodine and Thyroid Hormones
Iodine is used in the production of thyroid hormones. Your body cannot produce iodine itself and must obtain it from the diet. Iodine is added to table salt to ensure adequate dietary intake in the developed world, though more than 40 percent of the world remains at risk for iodine deficiency. If the body has inadequate levels of iodine, it cannot produce adequate levels of thyroid hormones. This results in the swelling of the thyroid, known as a goiter, as it attempts to keep up with demand.
Goitrogens are chemicals in food that increase the risk of goiter by inhibiting the absorption of iodine. Foods containing goitrogens are unlikely to have an effect on your health if you have normal thyroid function. Goitrogens can prevent your body from manufacturing thyroid hormones and may prevent absorption of artificial thyroid hormones given as treatment.
Foods That Reduce Iodine
Raw broccoli or other plants from the genus Brassica contain goitrogens. These include Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, cabbage, horseradish, kale, mustard greens, radishes, rutabagas and turnips. Soybeans, pine nuts, peanuts, strawberries, pears, peaches, spinach, bamboo shoots and spinach also contain goitrogens. If you have a thyroid disorder, these foods should not be eaten raw and should be limited in your overall diet even when cooked.
Foods Containing Iodine
Your doctor may recommend consuming foods rich in iodine. Iodine can be found in breads, dairy, eggs, table salt, saltwater fish, seaweed, shellfish, soy milk, soy sauce and yogurt