Cruciferous Vegetables: Harmful to your health?

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Are cruciferous vegetables harmful to your health? Is it true these typically healthy vegetables slow the thyroid to dangerous levels? Well, I’ve been doing my research lately because that is exactly what I have been told recently. It was like a body blow when I was informed I would need to eliminate cruciferous vegetables from my diet because they were slowing my thyroid.

What are cruciferuos vegetables, you ask? One of the most popular health food sites around today, The World’s Healthiest Foods, gives you the nuts and bolts of these vegetables in the article, Eating Healthy with Cruciferous Vegetables. WH Foods also provides a handy list of the most common vegetables in this category:

Cruciferous Vegetables

  • Arugula
  • Bok choy
  • Broccoli
  • Brussels sprouts
  • Cabbage
  • Cauliflower
  • Chinese cabbage
  • Collard greens
  • Daikon radish
  • Horseradish
  • Kale
  • Kohlrabi
  • Land cress
  • Mustard greens
  • Radish
  • Rutabaga
  • Shepherd’s purse
  • Turnip
  • Watercress


Receiving this information was not very pleasing for me since cruciferous vegetables are a major part of my daily diet. When I say major, I mean maybe overkill – breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks in between. My entire life I always thought my natural eating habits were very healthy. I naturally enjoy healthy food. It has a taste I desire and crave. Hence, hearing I may need to avoid these vegetables, on the surface level, it sent me into almost a state of shock and definitely into a state of confusion. Cruciferous vegetables are packed full of nutrients. The National Cancer Institute indicates there may be a correlation between eating cruciferous vegetables and cancer prevention:

  • Cruciferous vegetables contain vitamins, minerals, other nutrients, and chemicals known as glucosinolates.
  • Glucosinolates break down into several biologically active compounds that are being studied for possible anticancer effects.
  • Some of these compounds have shown anticancer effects in cells and animals, but the results of studies with humans have been less clear.

Not only that, but these vegetables are ripe with nutrients.

Which begs the question, why would I stop eating something seemingly so healthy for me? I have always been aware eating cruciferous vegetables causes gas and bloating, but the basic remedy to minimize these side-effects are to cook these vegetables versus eating them raw. However, it seems the negative effects of eating these vegetables raw is a slowed thyroid according to Body Ecology, “Eating raw cruciferous vegetables actually suppresses your thyroid’s hormone production, creating fatigue, coldness in your body and a slowing of your metabolism.” Taking inventory of my cruciferous vegetable eating habits, I very rarely eat them raw aside from cole slaw and arugula. So what gives if cooking these vegetables are supposed to eliminate the thyroid-suppressing qualities?

According to Dr. Drake Higdon’s study on cruciferous vegetables, “the scientific consensus is that cruciferous vegetables could only be detrimental to thyroid function in cases of iodine deficiency or insufficient iodine intake.”

Hence, now my research leads me to a possible iodine deficiency. Learning more about my blood panel results, I may have found the culprit. I am notoriously known in my inner circle for avoiding salt at all cost. Maybe I have gone overboard. With a history in the African-American community of high blood pressure and other issues arising from high salt intake, I may have reached the opposite spectrum. I used to be able to gain my iodine from other sources. However, within the last few years I have not been eating as much seafood or consuming as many cranberries  and navy beans as I did previously. All of which according to the Global Healing Center are excellent sources of natural iodine for the body.

The bottom line here is while I primarily eat clean and exercise often, my body is inflamed from the foods I eat. However, foods were not the initial culprit of my inflammation. The food only exacerbated an issue derived during my rough pregnancy back in 2008-09. The good news is I do not have to eliminate these vegetables permanently from my body. Maybe just a month or two to restore my body back to its healthy state. Beginning this quest with raising my iodine levels by eating naturally rich in iodine foods. In the interim, I may have to change up my exercise routine to give my body a different boost while I make my way along this journey. There are a couple other surprising food groups I need to eliminate short term that I will discuss in the days to come.

One important note I should mention is the fact I am not a fan of western medicine as a first recourse. I seek natural remedies for long term, health effects before I resort to medicine.

Do you have thyroid issues? What natural remedies have  you sought to reverse your issue? Were you over 40 when these issues began to arise?

As I continue my research, I am very interested in hearing the resolves from others in similar situations.

The World’s Healthiest Foods
The National Cancer Institute
Readers Digest: Best Health
Body Ecology
Global Health Center
Dr. Fuhrman – Smart Nutrition. Superior Health.

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Maria writes as well as handle guest post articles for Abundant Journeys blog. Abundant Journeys, an independent travel agency affiliated with MTravel CST# California: 1018299-10, blogs about wellness travel for the discerning travelier in three different life stages: Couples, Travel with Kids and Girlfriend Getaways focusing on Moms. We also enjoy blogging about fine foods and great gifts. Live Life. Must Travel. Start your journey today. Find our stories on in the travel section.

  1. I have an underactive thyroid and it developed around menopause. It took several years (and being seen by a female doctor in the practice I use, after the male doctor never caught it – she immediately saw what was going on) to be properly diagnosed-years of brain fog, feeling cold constantly, brittle, falling out hair, no energy, even a lump in my thyroid (benign). Many people don’t have success with Synthroid but it has been a blessing for me. I do have to take the name brand-the generic doesn’t work for me. I do struggle with weight gain and finally, after avoiding these “harmful”veggies, went on the Weight Watchers diet successfully. I am no longer avoiding foods because they “harm thyroid”. It is more important for me to have a normal weight.

    1. Consuming as much as I do is more than likely my main issue. I guess it goes back to what my elders told me as a child, “Everything in moderation, my dear, everything in moderation.”

    1. Natali, it has been a struggle since I’ve learned of my issue. I’ve snuck a few in here and there, but I’ve seriously cut way back. At least for the 90 days I need to, then hopefully it’s fair game again. Glad to know someone else loves these cruciferous veggies as much as I do.

  2. I only recently learned about this, too, and I also have hypothyroidism. Real bummer, because like you said, I have some favorites from that list – especially broccoli and kale!

  3. Sometimes it seems you can’t win for losing. If something is good for you for one reason, it’s bad for another. Yet when I decide just to eat what I want and not worry about it, I gain back the 20+ pounds it took 2+ years to lose.

    1. Exactly how I’ve been feeling lately, you can’t win for losing. I think we’ve just jacked up our food supply with modern technology. Even with vegetables it is hard knowing for sure the quality unless you drive to the farmer or grow it yourself.

  4. I have controlled thyroid issues–controlled since I discovered the various food triggers and helps, including raw cruciferous veggies. Fortunately, they don’t bother me when gently cooked! Our family is also very “natural health” inclined–always nice to read others who are, as well!

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