Foods to Eat for an Underactive Thyroid

Underactive thyroid, or hypothyroidism, is a condition that commonly affects women in their 40s and 50s. Hypothyroidism can reduce your metabolism, making weight management and weight loss difficult without a healthy dietary lifestyle. In addition to potentially boosting your metabolism, there are foods that are known to improve thyroid function. When consumed on a regular basis, they can reduce and prevent underactive thyroid symptoms.

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Foods Containing Selenium

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Foods that provide selenium are thought to be helpful toward thyroid function. Dietitian Anne Collins suggests that you consistently eat selenium-rich foods such as whole-wheat bread, bran, Brazil nuts, tuna, onions, tomatoes and broccoli to help improve thyroid function. These foods are also high in other nutrients and fiber, which can contribute to overall health and weight management. Whole grains also contain B vitamins, which also may improve thyroid function.

High-Fiber Foods

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The Hartford Clinic suggests a high-fiber diet for those who struggle with underactive thyroid. Such a diet improves regularity and can help you to maintain a healthy weight. To increase fiber in your diet, eat fruits and vegetables with most meals and as snacks. Replace white or sweetened breads and cereals with healthier, whole grain varieties. A high-fiber diet should provide approximately 20 to 35 grams of fiber daily. If you're on thyroid medication, excessive fiber intake can interfere with the synthetic thyroid, so stay within this range and seek your doctor's guidance to ensure you're on the right track.

Antioxidant-Rich Foods

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Antioxidants are powerful nutrients that reduce the development of particular diseases and can improve thyroid function. The University of Maryland Medical Center recommends antioxidant-rich foods, such as blueberries, cherries, tomatoes, squash and bell peppers. Consuming a variety of these foods regularly may reduce hypothyroid symptoms. Add berries to breakfast smoothies and cereals and incorporate fresh, colorful vegetables into lunch and dinner salads and entrees for best results.

Iron-Rich Foods

Tofu on plate. Credit: Thomas Northcut/Digital Vision/Getty Images

Foods that contain good amounts of iron can improve thyroid function. Iron is found in various foods, such as lean red meat, tuna, salmon, clams, most beans, leafy greens, tofu and fortified grain products, such as breads and cereals. Many of these foods offer fiber, antioxidants and B vitamins, making them ideal options for those with hypothyroidism. A variety of green vegetables and whole grains eaten daily and three ounces of fish twice per week enhances your overall diet and has a potentially positive effect on thyroid levels.

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