Is Kale Bad For Your Thyroid? (Healthy Hollywood)

Nutritionist Keri Glassman, who regularly shares her expertise on Access Hollywood and Access Hollywood Live, is answering your nutrition, diet and health questions.

Want to know how celebrities are getting their fabulous post-baby bodies? And, if their diet plan is right for you?

This week’s question…

“I’ve been loving sauteed kale lately as a go-to side dish, but I recently heard that it negatively affects your thyroid. I was shocked to hear this since I thought it was the healthiest veggie ever! Do I need to stop eating it?” — Samantha B., Houston, TX

Keri says…

Props to you for having a healthy go-to side dish! Kale has become the hot-right-now veggie that tastes great and has amazing health benefits. It includes vitamins A, C, and K, and lucky for you, becomes an even better source of vitamin K (important for bone health) when it is cooked. It is super versatile, as it has landed a role in soups, salads and smoothie recipes and can also be a one man show in the oven or the stovetop. So is kale’s fifteen minutes of fame over in the wake of this thyroid scandal, or is it an A-List veggie celeb that can withstand a rumor with the proper publicist (me!)? Let’s figure this out by first understanding what your thyroid does.

In a nutshell, the thyroid is a small, butterfly-shaped gland located at the base of your neck. It regulates the body’s metabolism, temperature, breathing, brain function, etc. So, it’s very important that your thyroid functions properly, otherwise, you won’t! In order to do its job, the thyroid needs iodine, a mineral found in iodized salt, dairy, and seafood. Kale and other cruciferous veggies (including broccoli, cabbage and cauliflower) contain unique compounds called goitrogens that can compete with iodine for market share in the thyroid. In people that have been diagnosed with hypothyroidism (underactive thyroid), this can be an issue.

But, don’t worry! I’m not suggesting that everyone stop eating kale and its fellow cruciferous cast members. Luckily, goitrogens in kale and friends can be reduced significantly when they’re cooked (yay - this includes your sauteed version!). And in most people with normal thyroid function the benefits of kale realllly outweigh the risks. People with existing thyroid conditions should check with their doctor, but most can enjoy cruciferous veggies as part of a healthful diet. If you have regular muscle fatigue, weakness, and unintentional weight gain, talk to your doc as these are the symptoms most associated with thyroid problems. So, overall, it’s safe to say that most of you can dish on kale and all its tabloid coverage with fervor (Kale Kardashian, anyone?). Kale indeed deserves it’s name in lights.

-- Terri MacLeod & Keri Glassman

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