What Are the Best Foods to Help Your Thyroid?

Medically reviewed by Jillian Foglesong Stabile, MD, FAAFP on November 27, 2023. To give you technically accurate, evidence-based information, content published on the Everlywell blog is reviewed by credentialed professionals with expertise in medical and bioscience fields.

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The National Institutes of Health estimate some 27 million Americans have a thyroid disorder, though many people aren't aware of their condition. [1] The most common disorders are hyperthyroidism and hypothyroidism, where the thyroid gland produces either too much or too little thyroid hormone, respectively.

While there’s no scientific evidence to suggest specific foods can “cure” either thyroid disorder, certain nutrients (like iodine) can be indispensable for supporting thyroid health.[2] Other foods are important to be aware of because they could impede thyroid treatments and therapies if you’re on one.

If you’re experiencing thyroid issues, or thyroid hormone levels outside normal ranges, developing a diet and lifestyle that supports, rather than inhibits, thyroid function can tremendously support your overall well-being. Below, we cover the best foods for thyroid health if you have a diagnosed condition.

The Importance of Iodine for Overall Thyroid Health

Iodine, an essential mineral, is one of the most important nutrients for thyroid health. Your thyroid gland needs iodine to [3]:

  • Produce sufficient amounts of thyroid hormones (specifically T4 and T3)
  • Prevent the thyroid from growing too big (a condition known as Goiter)

Because your body can’t make iodine by itself, humans need to get the mineral through food sources.

The National Institutes of Health recommends adult men and women get 150 mcg of iodine per day. Certain conditions—like being pregnant or nursing—may require you to consume more. [4] (Insufficient iodine could put you at risk of hypothyroidism or an underactive thyroid, where your thyroid can’t produce enough hormones on its own. [3]

One convenient way to ensure you get enough iodine for thyroid hormone production is to opt for iodized salt (table salt) when seasoning your meals. [5] Table salt typically contains 78 mcg of iodine per ¼ teaspoon. [4]

If you want to add more iodine in the form of food for thyroid health, some nutritious options include [6]:

  • Cod– 146 mcg per 3oz. serving
  • Nori or roasted seaweed – 116 mcg per 5-gram serving
  • Cooked oysters – 96 mcg per 3oz. serving
  • Plain Greek yogurt – 87 mcg per ¾ cup serving
  • Non-fat milk – 84 mcg per 1 cup serving
  • Eggs – 31 mcg per egg

If you’re having trouble meeting your iodine requirements, you might consider taking a daily iodine supplement.

However, it’s important to discuss any supplements you’re considering with a healthcare provider before introducing them. Just as people can develop iodine deficiency, it’s also possible to consume too much iodine, which could cause further health complications if you have a thyroid condition. [6]

Iodine Overconsumption: Thyroid and Health Risks

Currently, the majority of American adults consume much more than the recommended amount of iodine. [6] High amounts of iodine are often present in snacks and processed foods, which can make it harder to keep track of how much you’re eating.

Eating excessive amounts of salty, iodine-laden foods can be risky—particularly if your TSH levels (the main thyroid hormone) are already at low or high levels.

Down the line, excessive iodine intake could contribute to developing [7]:

  • Hyperthyroidism
  • Hypothyroidism
  • Goiter
  • Thyroid autoimmunity
  • Thyroid inflammation

When iodine levels rise too high, it’s also possible to develop iodine poisoning or iodine toxicity. Symptoms of iodine poisoning include [8]:

  • Stomach pain and bloating
  • Fever
  • Diarrhea
  • Delirium

Working with a healthcare provider or nutritionist to develop a diet suited to your thyroid’s condition could be helpful in preventing further harm to your health. [8]

Creating a Hypothyroidism-Friendly Diet

If you’re already being treated for hypothyroidism to balance thyroid hormones, your thyroid has the support it needs to maintain healthy function. Though several foods can help support general thyroid health, there’s no medical evidence to suggest that the best foods for the thyroid exist to help heal an underactive thyroid. [9]

That said, there are some foods to be mindful of to help your treatment work to the best of its ability.


Eating too much soy or soy-based products can be risky for those being treated for hypothyroidism, as the ingredient may interfere with thyroid hormone absorption. [10] If you’re currently on synthetic thyroid hormone therapy, it’s important to avoid eating soy within a few hours of taking your medicine.

Alternatively, if a healthcare provider or thyroid test indicates you have a “borderline” underactive thyroid, you might consider limiting or eliminating soy from your diet. Some research shows eating too much could further undermine lazy thyroid function. [11]

Cruciferous Vegetables

If you’ve been researching thyroid-friendly eating habits, you may have heard cruciferous vegetables like cabbage or broccoli could interfere with thyroid health. When digested, these foods produce a byproduct that can inhibit your body’s iodine absorption, potentially furthering thyroid dysfunction. [11]

It’s important to know that cruciferous vegetables are usually only harmful when they’re eaten raw and in large amounts. By themselves, they’re unlikely to harm your thyroid. [11] In most cases, you probably won’t have to worry about eating too much, though it’s always a wise idea to speak to a healthcare provider if you’re concerned.

Thyroid Foods to Avoid While Taking Medication

Certain foods should be avoided right when you take your hypothyroidism medication, as they can interfere with your body’s ability to use it [10]:

  • Walnuts
  • Soybean flour
  • Cottonseed meal
  • Antacids containing magnesium, calcium, or aluminum
  • Calcium supplements
  • Iron supplements
  • Multivitamins containing iron
  • Certain medications for ulcers or high cholesterol

If you regularly consume any of these, be sure to only eat them a few hours before or after taking your medicine.

Everlywell Thyroid Health Support Virtual Care

Creating a Hyperthyroidism-Friendly Diet

No specific thyroid foods to eat will directly improve thyroid health if you have hyperthyroidism. However, if you’ve been diagnosed with Graves’ disease, you might modify your diet to help ease symptoms and promote immune and overall health. Graves’ disease is an autoimmune condition and the most common cause of an overactive thyroid. [12]

Some foods good for the thyroid include:

Fortified calcium sources– Dairy products, orange juice, eggs, salmon, or other items fortified with calcium and/or vitamin D can be excellent to bring to the center of your diet if you have Graves’ disease. Graves’ disease can lead to osteoporosis, and fortified calcium-rich foods can help work against bone density loss.

Protein-rich foods– Weight loss is one of the trademark symptoms of hyperthyroidism, so it's important to keep up your protein intake to maintain muscle mass. Chicken, turkey, beans, and nuts are excellent choices, as they provide lean protein and could potentially aid in weight gain or maintenance.

Zinc – Zinc is a mineral that’s been shown to support immune and metabolic function. [1] Excellent sources of zinc include fortified breakfast cereals, red meat, and chicken. You might also ask your healthcare provider if a zinc supplement could fulfill your dietary requirements.

Two types of foods are often recommended to help slow an overactive thyroid, but there’s little research demonstrating the longevity of their effects. [2] These include [2]:

Cruciferous vegetables – Kale, Brussels sprouts, radishes, and cauliflower are all known as goitrogenic foods—vegetables good for thyroids that need help lowering TSH production. Because they inhibit your thyroid gland’s ability to process iodine and produce thyroid hormones, they’re frequently cited for their potential to ease symptoms of hyperthyroidism. However, goitrogenic foods can also potentially induce hypothyroidism, and more studies are needed to justify how much and how effective they are as an antidote.

Selenium-rich foods – Selenium is a mineral that some research suggests could help improve thyroid function in people with Graves’ disease. However, its effects are short-lived. The only medically approved long-term treatment for hyperthyroidism is medication.

Finally, reducing your intake of certain substances may help assuage trademark hyperthyroidism symptoms like jitteriness, increased perspiration, or unstable mood. For instance, caffeinated drinks may aggravate certain hyperthyroidism symptoms such as:

  • Nervousness
  • Anxiety
  • Weight loss
  • Difficulty sleeping

If you experience hyperthyroidism symptoms like these, you might consider limiting or retiring caffeine to see if it helps lessen them.

Tips for Supporting Healthy Thyroid Function

While a kind-to-thyroid diet can support physical well-being, creating an overall balanced lifestyle is also important—especially for your mental health, if you have a diagnosed condition. Sometimes, feeling better could be a matter of:

Making time for daily movement – Exercise can be an excellent way to manage physical and psychological stress alike. If you experience anxiety as a result of hyperthyroidism, exercise can be an excellent outlet. On the other hand, people with hypothyroidism might find it a helpful way to create mood uplift and mitigate weight gain. Ideally, you’ll make time for at least 30 minutes most days of the week.

Partaking in stress-reducing activities – Too much stress can upend your body’s delicate balance of hormones, including those normally produced by your thyroid. Prioritizing enough high-quality sleep and finding sustainable ways to decompress—like mindfulness or nature walks—can be useful in managing stress levels.

Finally, if you’re concerned about your thyroid health, taking a thyroid test can give you a clearer picture of whether your thyroid expresses normal activity levels. Combined with a healthcare provider’s evaluation, you can start creating a diet and lifestyle that more consciously promotes your thyroid health.

Take A Closer Look at Your Thyroid with Everlywell

With Everlywell, you can take an at-home thyroid test to find out whether yours is producing TSH, Free T3, and Free T4 within a normal range. If your results indicate a need for further treatment, Everlywell can arrange a digital consultation to get a professional opinion on treatment and therapy options.

Whatever your symptoms are, you can get started right away. Explore more at-home tests and get a clearer picture of your health by browsing Everlywell online today.

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  1. Niddk Publishes Fact Sheets about Thyroid Disorders. National Institutes of Health, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 26 Sept. 2015, https://www.nih.gov/news-events/news-releases/niddk-publishes-fact-sheets-about-thyroid-disorders. Accessed 25 Oct. 2023.
  2. Babiker A, Alawi A, Al Atawi M, Al Alwan I. The role of micronutrients in thyroid dysfunction. Sudan J Paediatr. 2020;20(1):13-19. doi:10.24911/SJP.106-1587138942
  3. Goiter. American Thyroid Association, http://www.thyroid.org/goiter/. Accessed 25 Oct. 2023.
  4. Office of Dietary Supplements - Iodine. NIH Office of Dietary Supplements, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, http://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Iodine-HealthProfessional/. Accessed 25 Oct. 2023.
  5. Iodine Deficiency. Cleveland Clinic. https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/23417-iodine-deficiency. Accessed 26 Oct. 2023.
  6. Iodine. The Nutrition Source, 7 Mar. 2023, http://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/iodine/
  7. Iodine. National Institutes of Health. https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Iodine-Consumer/. Accessed May 13, 2020.
  8. Southern AP, Jwayyed S. Iodine Toxicity. [Updated 2023 Aug 8]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2023 Jan. Accessed 26 Oct. 2023.
  9. Can Certain Foods Improve Thyroid Function in People with Hypothyroidism? Mayo Clinic, Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research, 18 Aug. 2023, https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/hypothyroidism/expert-answers/hypothyroidism-diet/faq-20058554.
  10. Thyroid Issues? What You Should Know About Foods and Supplements to Avoid. Cleveland Clinic. https://health.clevelandclinic.org/thyroid-issues-what-you-need-to-know-about-diet-and-supplements/. Accessed May 13, 2023.
  11. Graves’ Disease. Mayo Clinic, Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research, 14 June 2022, https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/graves-disease/symptoms-causes/syc-20356240
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