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Diet for Hyperthyroidism

author image August McLaughlin
August McLaughlin is a certified nutritionist and health writer with more than nine years of professional experience. Her work has been featured in various magazines such as "Healthy Aging," "CitySmart," "IAmThatGirl" and "ULM." She holds specializations in eating disorders, healthy weight management and sports nutrition. She is currently completing her second cookbook and Weight Limit—a series of body image/nutrition-related PSAs.
Diet for Hyperthyroidism
A nutritious diet can enhance your thyroid function and overall health. Photo Credit Salmon Dinner image by JJAVA from <a href="http://www.fotolia.com">Fotolia.com</a>

Your thyroid gland produces hormones that contribute to your metabolism, energy and overall health. If you have hyperthyroidism, it means that your thyroid produces an excessive amount of hormones. Symptoms of an overactive thyroid include nervousness, racing heartbeat, tremors, unintentional weight loss and mood swings. Roughly 1 percent of Americans have hyperthyroidism according to the National Endocrine and Metabolic Diseases Information Service, and more often women than men. In addition to medical treatment, a healthy diet may improve your symptoms.


An appropriate diet for hyperthyroid patients supplies ample nutrients, emphasizes foods that may reduce bothersome symptoms and limits those that may interfere with thyroid function. Alternative therapies, including dietary changes, are not intended to cure or serve as sole treatment for hyperthyroidism, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center. They may, however, reduce mild symptoms and enhance other treatment forms, such as medications.

Helpful Foods

A hyperthyroid diet should contain a variety of healthy foods from all vital food groups, including fruits and vegetables, whole grains, lean protein sources and healthy fats. The University of Maryland Medical Center suggests that hyperthyroid patients consume antioxidant-rich fruits and vegetables, which include berries, cherries, kiwi, citrus fruits, red plums, tomatoes, spinach, kale, bell peppers and winter squash. Omega-3 fatty acids, found in salmon, tuna, sardines, flaxseed and walnuts, can enhance your immune system function and minimize inflammation. Consume protein-rich foods, such as fish, legumes, dairy products and poultry, for improved blood sugar and mood balance. Additional healthy fat sources include seeds, nuts, canola oil and olive oil.

Problem Foods

While no foods are explicitly off-limits if you have hyperthyroidism, you need to limit the intake of specific foods to reduce the severity of your symptoms. M. Sara Rosenthal, author of "The Thyroid Sourcebook," suggests avoiding refined foods, such as enriched breads, pasta, cereals and sweets, and unhealthy fat sources, such as saturated fats and trans fats. Foods and beverages rich in saturated fat include red meat, poultry fat, processed meats, whole milk, egg yolks, butter and fried foods. Trans fats, particularly damaging to your heart-health, are prevalent in margarine, shortening and commercially prepared foods that list hydrogenated vegetable oil as an ingredient. Caffeine; alcohol; and added sugars, such as cane sugar, brown sugar, brown rice syrup, honey and corn syrup, may also exacerbate your condition.

Dietary Supplements

If you have difficulty meeting your dietary needs through food alone, your doctor may suggest supplements. A daily multivitamin containing vitamins C, A and E, and B-complex vitamins, as well as trace minerals such as calcium and zinc, may help remedy nutrient deficiencies linked with hyperthyroidism. If your diet is deficient in omega-3 fats, a fish oil or flaxseed supplement may prove beneficial. Since dietary supplements may pose side effects and interact with thyroid medications, the University of Maryland Medical Center recommends seeking approval and guidance from your doctor.

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