Give Your Thy­roid Some TLC

Im­prove thy­roid func­tion by eat­ing more of th­ese seven foods

Better Nutrition - - CONTENTS - BY LISA TURNER

Seven foods that can help keep this key gland in tip - top shape.

Is your thy­roid gland mak­ing you fat, sad, and tired? It’s pos­si­ble. An es­ti­mated 10 mil­lion to 25 mil­lion peo­ple suff er from un­der­ac­tive thy­roid— a con­di­tion called hy­pothy­roidism. And some stud­ies show even mild thy­roid im­pair­ment can re­sult in cog­ni­tive im­pair­ment.

The thy­roid is a small, but­terfl y- shaped gland at the base of the neck; its job is to make hor­mones that reg­u­late en­ergy, me­tab­o­lism, mood, heart rate, and other im­por­tant func­tions. But when it’s out of whack, symp­toms can in­clude weight gain, fa­tigue, dry skin, slug­gish think­ing, and even de­pres­sion.

If you sus­pect your thy­roid’s not func­tion­ing prop­erly, check with your health care provider. And sup­port your thy­roid— and over­all health— with th­ese seven foods.

Seaweed. The thy­roid re­quires io­dine, a trace min­eral, to syn­the­size suffi cient amounts of thy­roid hor­mone, and stud­ies show that even mild io­dine defi cien­cies can lead to thy­roid prob­lems. Other than iodized salt, the rich­est source of nat­u­ral io­dine is seaweed, with kelp, kombu, and wakame hav­ing the high­est amounts. Try this: Soak wakame seaweed in hot wa­ter for 20 min­utes, then drain and com­bine with rice vine­gar, sesame oil, grated gin­ger, honey, or agave, and thinly sliced scal­lions for an easy seaweed salad. Brush sheets of nori with olive oil; sprin­kle with a mix of brown sugar, salt, smoked pa­prika, and cayenne; and pan fry for 15 sec­onds. Af­ter al­low­ing this to cool, cut into tri­an­gles. Soak hi­jiki seaweed in hot wa­ter for 10 min­utes; drain and toss with a mix­ture of minced red onion, shred­ded car­rots, cooked quinoa, and green peas; driz­zle with a dress­ing of white miso, black sesame seeds, sesame oil, and gar­lic.

Brazil nuts. The thy­roid has the high­est se­le­nium con­tent of any or­gan, and stud­ies sug­gest that se­le­nium de­fi­cien­cies may be a pri­mary

cause of thy­roid disor­ders. Brazil nuts are an espe­cially rich food source of se­le­nium; other sources in­clude tuna, sar­dines, beef, turkey, and chicken. Try this: Com­bine Brazil nuts, olive oil, gar­lic, and a hand­ful of arugula and basil in a food pro­ces­sor, and process into a savory pesto. Soak Brazil nuts overnight in wa­ter, then drain and purée with fresh wa­ter, a cou­ple of dates, and a dash of vanilla for a de­li­cious milk al­ter­na­tive. For a rich, dairy- free soup, cut sweet pota­toes and onions into chunks and sim­mer in stock with a sprig of rose­mary un­til soft; re­move and dis­card rose­mary; add Brazil nuts and purée un­til creamy and smooth.

Ap­ples. Like pears, plums, and citrus fruits, ap­ples are rich in pectins, a gelati­nous fiber that helps clear the body of heavy met­als, espe­cially mer­cury, which has been associated with lower lev­els of thy­roid hor­mone in those peo­ple with higher ex­po­sure. Try this: Cut ap­ples cross­wise ( don’t peel them— the skin is the rich­est source of pectin!), dredge in brown sugar, then pan- fry in co­conut oil un­til ten­der; top with shred­ded basil and crum­bled blue cheese. Spi­ral­ize a whole ap­ple with skin, lightly steam in ap­ple juice un­til ten­der, and serve with yo­gurt, hemp seeds, and blue­ber­ries as a break­fast noo­dle bowl. Sim­mer chopped ap­ples, parsnips, shal­lots, and sprigs of thyme in broth un­til ten­der; re­move thyme sprigs and purée un­til smooth; top with ad­di­tional thyme and a dol­lop of crème fraîche.

Pump­kin seeds. Zinc is crit­i­cal to thy­roid health and is re­quired for the syn­the­sis of thy­roid hor­mones. In fact, de­fi­cien­cies of this min­eral can lead to hy­pothy­roidism. ( Ad­di­tion­ally, thy­roid hor­mones are es­sen­tial for zinc ab­sorp­tion, so hy­pothy­roidism can lead to zinc de­fi­ciency.) Pump­kin seeds are a rich source of zinc; other good sources in­clude oys­ters, crab, lob­ster, legumes, nuts, and sun­flower seeds. Try this: Purée raw pump­kin seeds with av­o­cado chunks, cilantro, and a squeeze of lime for a creamy twist on gua­camole. Com­bine pump­kin seeds, canned black beans, shred­ded car­rots, and in­stant oats in a food pro­ces­sor; pulse un­til finely chopped and form into burg­ers; fry un­til crispy on the out­side and cooked through. Or toss pump­kin seeds with melted but­ter or co­conut oil, honey, cin­na­mon, and car­damom, and toast in the oven at 300° F un­til browned.

Yo­gurt is rich in vi­ta­min D, a key hor­mone- like sub­stance that’s in­volved in im­mune sys­tem reg­u­la­tion. Vi­ta­min D de­fi­cien­cies are associated with in­creased risk of Hashimoto's dis­ease, an au­toim­mune con­di­tion that’s the most com­mon cause of hy­pothy­roidism. Other good sources of D in­clude for­ti­fied orange juice, dairy- free milks, sar­dines, and sunshine.

Try this: Make a lassi, a traditional In­dian bev­er­age: purée yo­gurt, frozen mango chunks, and lime juice, then pour into glasses and gar­nish with slices of lime. Purée yo­gurt with black­ber­ries, honey, and grated gin­ger; stir in vanilla yo­gurt to make swirls and then spoon into Pop­si­cle molds and freeze. Dump a con­tainer of yo­gurt into a cheese­cloth­lined strainer and re­frig­er­ate overnight; stir in your fa­vorite herbs and sea­son­ings, and use as a sub­sti­tute for sour cream.

Chick­peas. Like other beans and legumes, chick­peas are high in fiber, which can help pre­vent or re­duce con­sti­pa­tion— a com­mon com­plaint among peo­ple with thy­roid disor­ders. Bonus: chick­peas are also high in zinc, which is crit­i­cal for thy­roid func­tion. Try this: Toss cooked chick­peas with olive oil, coarse salt, and minced rose­mary; spread on a bak­ing sheet and roast at 400° F un­til crispy; let cool for a crunchy, nut- like snack. For a ve­gan tagine, cook chick­peas with sweet pota­toes, onions, toma­toes, gar­lic, cin­na­mon, cumin, and broth; stir in chopped dried figs and sliv­ered al­monds; top with pars­ley. Or toss chick­peas, Brus­sels sprouts, and cau­li­flower flo­rets with olive oil, and roast at 400° F till ten­der.

Sar­dines. Like Brazil nuts, sar­dines are high in se­le­nium. Plus, sar­dines are rich in omega- 3 fatty acids, which help lower in­flam­ma­tion and en­hance im­mu­nity, re­duc­ing the risk of Hashimoto’s. Other good sources of omega- 3s in­clude sal­mon, wal­nuts, and flax seeds. Try this: Ar­range sar­dines in a glass casse­role dish and driz­zle with olive oil and lemon juice; broil till hot and then shower with pars­ley be­fore serv­ing. Mash bone­less, skin­less sar­dines with olive oil, chopped olives, capers, coarse black pep­per, and a pinch of cayenne for an easy, spread­able fish dip. Sim­mer bone­less, skin­less sar­dines in tomato sauce with minced rose­mary leaves and crushed red pep­per fl akes; serve over cooked penne pasta with grated Asi­ago cheese.

Lisa Turner is a chef, food writer, prod­uct de­vel­oper, and nu­tri­tion coach in Boul­der, Colo. She has more than 20 years of ex­pe­ri­ence in re­search­ing and writ­ing about clean, nour­ish­ing foods, and coach­ing peo­ple to­ward health­ier eat­ing habits. Find her at lisat­urn­er­cooks.com.

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