Should we include raw cruciferous vegetables in our diet? I mentioned in my cabbage salad recipe that we don’t eat raw cabbage that often because of it’s thyroid suppressing effects, which many of you requested to hear more about.
I would like to share some excellent information from Sally Fallon and Chris Masterjohn (who published an article in the Weston Price Foundation’s magazine)
In Nourishing Traditions, Sally Fallon promotes eating plenty of raw foods, but also cautions against eating certain foods raw on a regular basis, such as broccoli, cabbage, and other vegetables, for the following reasons.
“While we recommend the inclusion of much raw food in the diet some vegetables are best eaten cooked. For example, cabbage, broccoli, Brussels Sprouts and kale contain chemical that block the production of thyroid hormone (known medically as goitrogens). Beet greens, spinach and chard contain oxalic acid that clocks calcium and iron absorption and irritates the mouth and intestinal tract…..Cooking destroys or neutralizes these harmful substances (as does the fermentation process). Spinach and cabbage are popular salad foods but should be eaten raw only occasionally.”
Sally Fallon, Nourishing Traditions, Pg 366
It was thought that by implementing the traditional practice of fermenting cabbage, you would eliminate this problem. However, is seems like recent research shows that those thyroid suppressors are still present in sauerkraut. In an very interesting article on the topic of crucifers, by Chris Masterjohn, (I recommend that you read the full article) this is included in the summery of the article.
“When raw crucifers are chewed, or when microwaved and steamed crucifers are digested by intestinal bacteria, they release substances called goitrogens that increase the need for iodine when consumed in small amounts and can damage the thyroid gland when consumed in large amounts.
These goitrogens also inhibit the transfer of iodine into mother’s milk.
Steaming crucifers until they are fully cooked reduces the goitrogens to one-third the original value on average. Since release of the goitrogens from steamed crucifers depends on intestinal bacteria, however, the amount released varies from person to person.
Boiling crucifers for thirty minutes reliably destroys 90 percent of the goitrogens.
Fermentation does not neutralize the goitrogens in crucifers. When foods like sauerkraut are consumed as condiments, however, the small amount of goitrogens within them is not harmful if one’s diet is adequate in iodine.
An increased dietary intake of iodine compensates for the consumption of moderate amounts of crucifers but cannot reverse the effects of large amounts of crucifers.
Paradoxically, the goitrogens found in crucifers may offer some protection against cancer. The jury is still out on whether or not this is true.
The use of sauerkraut as a condiment and several servings of steamed crucifers per week is probably beneficial. People who consume more than this amount, especially lactating mothers, should be sure to obtain extra iodine in their diet from seafood. People who make liberal use of crucifers on a daily basis should boil a portion of them to avoid excessive exposure to goitrogens.”
In the end, if you have low thyroid function, are pregnant or nursing (read the full article to get more info on this) or have low iodine levels, this is an important piece of information to know.
It reminds me off another issue with cabbage, it reduces the milk supply of nursing mothers. This can be helpful for those with an overabundance, but needs to be avoided if you are trying to maintain a good milk supply. A dear friend of mine was trying to include healthy food in her diet during the flu season, so started adding some raw cabbage to her daily salad. Within a week or so, she couldn’t figure out why her nursing son was wanting to nurse all the time and was obviously hungry. She kept nursing him more often……and kept eating cabbage. She has mentioned the issue with milk supply to me, but it wasn’t until I was over at her house for lunch that it clicked. She was making us a salad and chatting about how she added cabbage to her salad everyday. The light dawned! I told her about it’s milk reducing properties (which I knew because I had used it for that purpose), and the problem was solved. She stopped eating cabbage and her milk supply came right back. All to say, it can be important to know what effect different vegetables and foods have on our body!
What we do
Like I mentioned, we only eat raw vegetables in this group on occasion. I feel that they also aren’t as digestible raw anyways. We do definitely eat sauerkraut. We take cod liver oil daily and try to feed our thyroid through nutrient dense foods, like the people who used to eat sauerkraut in their everyday diet. Getting better sources of iodine in our diet is another thing I am trying to get into our routine. I feel that as long as you aren’t needing to be super careful because of a particular health issue, sauerkraut’s amazing health benefits (and taste!) far outweigh the goitrogens.
So that’s what I know. Anyone with more thoughts, questions, or other research to point too?
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We are very much like you. While we enjoy eating more raw, living, and fermented foods, we are VERY careful to not eat too many raw crucifers or raw greens (other than leaf lettuces).
I’d not read that article by Christ Masterjohn before. Thanks for pointing it out!
Excellent points. I do have a low thyroid problem, which caused low milk supply issues with both of my boys. I am currently in the process of healing my thyroid through iodine and dietary changes and eat raw cabbage or broccoli maybe once every few months.
This is so funny because everything stated in this article directly correlates with my mother’s “eating rules” (based on her culture and family traditions). My mother believes that raw crucifers should not be eaten raw. She always told me that eating them raw on a regular basis would permanently ruin one’s digestive system in the long-run (hello acid reflux and indigestion!)
She also believed that spinach should ALWAYS be cooked, because it contains some chemical (I guess she was referring to the oxalic acid) that is very unhealthy for you and it needs to be removed. She believes that if the spinach tastes bitter, it means that the chemical (or oxalic acid?) is still present. So my mother always gets mad at me when she sees me steaming my spinach in very little water. She believes that it needs to be blanched in boiling water to effectively remove the chemical.
Also, my mother always overcooks her cabbage when she makes her old-fashioned veal cabbage stew. I usually like the cabbage to have a little crunch in it, but she always makes it soggy. I guess old-fashioned traditions have some truth in them?? I always thought my mother was crazy but now I realize that she knew what she was talking about!
KH: That is so interesting! Thanks for sharing your mother’s perspective! Goes to show you that sometimes you don’t have to go back very far when most people thought this way about certain raw vegetables!
Oh yeah, and there was a point when I was becoming interested in raw foodism, and my mom was appalled by it. I actually wanted to try this raw kale avocado salad (the kale is only salted, oiled, and squeezed until wilted) but my mother advised me that it was unhealthy because kale needs to be cooked.
By the way, the only reason why this form of kale is edible is because the salt has broken down the cell walls, making the leaves more pliable and therefore chewable, and the oil just greases them up a bit so they are easier to swallow. Otherwise eating raw kale would be near to impossible. So I would be very wary of this recipe.
But I wonder how raw foodists do it? They must be eating loads of raw cruciferous veggies. I know that a lot of raw foodie recipes involve juicing kale and spinach…and eating raw broccoli. Yikes…
You know…that explains something. Victoria Boutenko has been touting the use of raw greens in smoothies (incl. kale and spinach) and she is quite heavy. I bet her thyroid has been adversely affected!
Hmmm I guess My raw kale smoothies are doing more harm than good. Odd. The raw community seems to be thriving.
KH: I think that it is possible that doing green drinks and smoothies and such for a cleanse can be good (and it has seemed to have really helped some people). I think that going vegan for a cleansing period could also be good. But I think that for long term health, some of these practices could be harmful for a variety of reasons (just personal opinion here. 🙂 ). For my family, we try to eat a more “traditional diet” which does include animal fats and meats. It has seemed to be very important for me when I was pregnant especially to be eating beef. By the way, I know of people who put cooked kale in smoothies too!
gfe--gluten free easily
Wow, Kimi, I had absolutely no idea. I do have low thyroid and am on Armour thyroid meds. I’ve been eating a lot of cabbage lately in salads and smoothies. And, I’ve been very tired the last few weeks. Okay, I’m backing off on that right now. (That will come naturally as we are headed out on vacation Friday.) I really appreciate this post! I’ll be sharing it with my support group … many of our members have low thyroid activity.
KH: I am so glad that this post was helpful for you!
It’s funny you should post about this. I was JUST researching raw vs. cooked vegetables, since I had the opportunity to pick up my sister-in-law’s share at our CSA (I’ve been denied 2 years in a row due to inadequate shares – maybe next year!).
A couple of questions…
* Which vegetables are best eaten raw?
* I usually try to pack carrots, celery and some radishes and/or summer squash in my husband’s lunch (along with hummus). Are all of those okay? If I had access to organic peppers at a price I could afford, I’d add those, too.
* To which family is kohlrabi related? Although I’ve seen that it can be eaten raw, I couldn’t find a satisfactory answer to whether it is good for you, so I roasted it, along with the turnips and beets, rather than risk ill-effects from eating it raw. It was delicious that way, too.
* Is it better to eat root vegetables cooked or raw? (By the way, is rutabaga a root vegetable?) I love to snitch raw root vegetables while I cut them up, but wasn’t sure if that was ideal.
* If you roast a chicken, is it okay to add root vegetables, carrots, tubers, etc? I’m guessing it’s best not to use the broth if I were to add something like spinach or cabbage or kale… is that right? How then would you add greens to a soup – fully cook and drained?
Thank you so much for your blog. I am learning so much and my family is benefitting.
KH: Raw carrots, celery and red peppers, as far as I know, are great raw. Kohlrabi is related to the cabbage, so it is probably in the category of only once in a while eating it raw. 🙂 I bet it would be delicious roasted! Potatoes should be eaten cooked and I’ve always assumed that some of the other root vegables were better cooked, like turnips, but haven’t heard or read anything specifically. I think it would be fine to use the broth if you added cabbage to your roasted chicken! It should have cooked all of the bad stuff away by that point. Hope that helps!
Suzy, I’m a raw foodist, but I do not eat tough-to-digest cruciferous vegetables. I stick to mostly sweet fruit, along with tender greens and non-sweet fruits.
I’ve never been in better health! 🙂
KH: Swayze, Thanks for sharing how you eat! It’s interesting to hear how you make raw food work for you. 🙂
Fantastic post- I just called my girlfriend who is having low milk supply issues while nursing….and she loves, loves, loves raw cabbage and broccoli.
Now I’m wondering how all of this applies to whole food vitamins? My prenatal was whole food… and I got my husband started on a whole food vitamin as well. I’m fairly certain the veggies used in all of these whole food vitamins you see all over the place now are not cooked- I believe they are freeze dried from raw. Hmmm. Food for thought.
Any ideas on that one? Thanks.
KH: I hope doing the cabbage trick helps your friend! Whole food viatmins, that’s an interesting question! I’ve also had to face that with some green drinks that we’ve been drinking lately. I think it’s a matter of knowing how sensitive you are to it, how much is actually in the supplements, and eating thryoid supporting foods to help balance it out. But I don’t have an easy answer for you, as I am still trying to weigh the risks and benefits!
Kelly the Kitchen Kop
I’ve been planning on doing the hard work of researching for a post on this topic, and now I don’t have to, as you’ve covered it well. SWEET! Thanks, Kimi.
I’ve responded to some of your questions and comments above. Thanks!
I happen to like my sauerkraut cooked. My dad makes a killer recipe with carrots, tomatoes, apples, caraway & other spices. I kind of felt guilty about cooking it all the time, but now I don’t feel so guilty!
KH: sauerkraut is good cooked, though we still eat it raw since we won’t all of those good for you healthy probiotics!
I’d never heard of oxalic acid before I owned cavies (guinea pigs). When researching their diet, I was warned to avoid foods high in oxalic acid because they can cause kidney stones. Cavies, of course, don’t consume cooked food at all.
From my research into their diet, I have found that the following veggies have high amounts of oxalic acid,high being 400 mg of oxalic acid or more per 100 grams of food: Collards, Radish, Carrots, Beet greens, Spinach, Purslane, Parsley. We feed these foods to the cavies, but only sparingly and less than once a month.
These foods have 200-400 mg oxalic acid per 100 grams of food: Chicory Greens, Turnip , Sweet potato, Watercress, Brussels Sprouts, Green beans. We feed these foods to the cavies, but sparingly and not weekly.
Of course, for humans, proper cooking is key. In our own diets, we don’t avoid radishes or raw carrots, we just don’t make them a daily food.
I wouldn’t microwave anything, as mentioned by Chris Masterjohn.
Thanks for the great info! Be well, Carla aka OneHealthyGirl.com
Oh my gosh, there is so much conflicting information out there in the big wide web and it has more than once overwhelmed me. Reading the post above makes me shiver in fear – I can deal with avoiding eating the crucifers raw (although I do make a mean saurkraut and I’m so sad that this is not on the safe list for daily consumption) but if carrots are considered off limits in their raw state than I’ve got a problem Luuu-cy! I make carrot/apple juice often and have always felt that they were doing me a world of good. I also grate them often into my dogs food with other veggies (no cruciferous though) after all, they ate the ultimate raw diet in the wild and thrived.
Is there more information on this? I have Sally Fallon’s Nourishing Traditions book but it’s packed away at the moment so I can’t reference it.
That said let me tell you that I love your posts with so much good information, excellent recipes and your perspective that each of us takes what you offer and use it or change it to make it work for us. Looking forward to the next one!
KH: I think that just not overdoing anything is good for us. I personally am not going to worry about vegetables that are low in oxalic acid, like carrots and will still eat them raw, just maybe not everyday. 🙂 If you were having carrot-apple juice at every meal, that may be a problem, but as it is, I wouldn’t worry about it too much. That’s my opinion, does anyone else have thoughts to add to mine?
I’ve been putting a few fresh kale leaves in my green smoothies lately. In preparation for using kale in my smoothies for winter, I just harvested a large amount of kale, blanched it for 3 minutes and froze it. Is that considered cooked enough to safely add a handful to my smoothies this winter? I’m due with baby #5 in October, so I want to be careful regarding my milk supply this winter.
Thank you for posting this information and for the validation about the value of cooked foods in traditional diet. The thing that deeply concerns me is that the problems related to anti-nutrients and/or nutrient deficiencies in certain foods can be very deceptive as it frequently takes many, many years to see the evidence of such damage if it does occur. One of the many examples of this are trans-fats where consumption wasn’t viewed as a problem initially, rather it was only over the long-term that we realized their negative effects on our health. It is for this reason that I generally regard traditional foods and food ways/preparations as the most nourishing and the safest way to eat – as safe as life gets anyway, hahaha :))
KH: So true! Sometimes it even takes generations to really see the effect “new” foods has on the population!
Sarah Schatz - menu planner for people with allergies
I found your site last night through a link from GNOWFGLINS where she talked about your amazing cherry dessert. I would love to try the coconut version since I can’t eat wheat or gluten products. I love you site and was looking for a way to contact you directly – do you have an email contact on your blog somewhere?
One question I had about the dessert ( I know different post) is if you can soak the coconut flour? I haven’t yet tried soaking gluten-free flours and am wondering if you have tried this?
As for this post (back on track) I didn’t know about the scientific side of eating these veggies raw. However, maybe from just listening to my own body, I have pretty much avoided eating these foods raw with the exception of spinach. Even that I usually cook and enjoy in a salad only once in a a while.
I think it probably has a lot to do with how I feel after I eat raw cabbage or raw broccoli. The broccoli leaves a bitter and strange taste in my mouth and I find these vegetables very hard on the digestive track when eaten raw. It’s really good to know about the reason why – even though I will probably forget the technical name of the “goitrogens.” How do you pronounce that anyway?
Anyway, thanks for all the great recipes and posts. I absolutely love Nourishing Traditions and use it as my bible in the kitchen. I don’t follow everything exactly but I love it’s traditional methods.
This finding is consistent with what Dr. D’Adamo advocates with his Blood Type diet.
Just a side note to Amber……yep, dogs thrived in the wild on a raw diet….but I bet they weren’t picking apples and broccoli!!. 😉 Meat, organ, and bones all the way. 🙂
But ANYTHING is better than cra* in a bag!!! Hugs and kisses to your dogs..
Oh no! My 4 year old loves spinach salad. She eats it almost every night, it’s one of the few veggies she likes. Are other salad greens ok? If I switched her to some dark green lettuce she would still like it.
Oh yes, dark salad greens are just fine. 😉
Kimi, or anyone on the post, I am very hypothyroid and would like to make a version of sauerkraut or other lacto-fermented veggies to provide natural probiotics. Can you ferment any vegetables and gain the same benefits as traditional sauerkraut? Do any of you have any experience with cabbage/cruciferous alternatives?
Thanks for this fascinating post! I have been eating fresh kohlrabi every day for almost two weeks and have (coincidentally) been feeling very tired as all. I wonder if the two are related? I’ll have to cut out the kohlrabi and see what happens.
I just have a question about the article from John Masterjohn. He says that “Boiling crucifers for thirty minutes reliably destroys 90 percent of the goitrogens.” I generally steam my broccoli, beet greens, chard, etc. for about 15-20 minutes. My understanding is that it keeps most of the vitamins and nutrients more intact while still getting rid of the oxalic acid (I never heard of goitrogens before). Do you think that seems reasonable?
I like my veggies really soft…almost to the point of falling apart. I always thought this was a bad practice but maybe it isn’t!
I make sauerkraut but do try to eat sparingly as a condiment. And I miss the raw cabbage and cole slaw since reading NT. But I do have thyroid problems and have appreciated knowing about goitrogons. (Yes, how DO you pronounce that???) Anyway, I love this post and being reminded about cruciferous vegs. 🙂
Sarah Schatz - menu planner for people with allergies
I just noticed your question. Yes, you can make many veggies and fruits fermented and I believe they will still contain the same natural probiotics.
If you have a copy or can buy a copy of Nourishing Traditions, you will see that she has many recipes for lacto-fermented veggies and fruits. These include carrots, beets, apples, onions, garlic, cucumbers, turnips, red bell peppers, ginger, to name a few.
She also has tonic drinks that you can make in a similar fashion that you drink and contain the probiotics in them. I made the beet kavass and it was strong but made my tummy and digestion feel great.
You can also just take a tsp or two (I think) of whey a day and that is said to have a very healing affect on the digestion as it contains the probiotics.
I hope that helps and maybe someone else or Kimi has something to add.
I am also very hypothyroid also. One of my favorite veggies is spinach, sauteed with olive oil and balsamic vinegar. How cooked should the spinach be? I lightly sautee mine just until wilting. Is that enough?
I have a NO thyroid problem. Was diagnosed with graves disease as a teenager and they gave me radioactive iodine which effectively wiped it out. If I’m not nursing, I wonder if I’m free and clear of this affecting me since my thyroid doesn’t function at all and I’m on Synthroid.
Great post! I never knew that info about cabbage and the like and its effect on breastfeeding and milk levels. This is handy info to know for breastfeeding moms so I plan on sharing! Many thanks! (P.S. You need a share button! 🙂
Thanks so much Sarah, for the input. I have NT, and have had if for years. I usually use it as a reference these days, as needed. Looks like I need to poke around a bit more. I will definitely look at her other fermentation recipes. Never heard about taking a teaspoon or two of whey, though. Interesting. In the meantime, for now at least, I’ll continue with goat kefir. A good probiotic source. Not to mention, simple to make. And less stinky: )
Kimberley, I would be careful. Even though your thyroid is no longer producing hormones, you are taking thyroid hormone. Anything that is anti-thyroid can affect your medication and you can likely feel hypothyroid. Pay attention to the symptoms of hypothyroidism and be cautious of what you eat and when. I say all of this from experience. For example, the calcium in dairy products can bind to thyroid meds and make them useless. If I eat any dairy within two hours of taking my thyroid meds, I feel hypo for the rest of the day. That is the most immediate and noticeable effect for me. It may be different for others.
The INGESTING raw cabbage affecting your milk supply is very interesting information- applying cold, raw cabbage leaves to engorged breasts is a long standing remedy many nursing mothers use!
Stephanie @ Keeper of the Home
Thanks for the great info, Kimi! We do occasionally eat raw cruciferous veggies, but try not to make a regular habit of it. I am also of the opinion that they should be at least steamed, if not fully cooked.
That’s very interesting about the cabbage/milk supply connection. Though I don’t eat very much raw cabbage, I’ve definitely taken note of that fact for this upcoming baby!
amy in az
I am wondering if Germans and Hispanics have trouble since the Germans eat quite a bit of sauerkraut and Hispanics us raw cabbage in place of lettuce? I have not heard of these two people groups having any greater issues from eating cabbage, as of yet. I would love to know if they do to confirm this finding. I am a bit hesitant since my Dr of Natropathy, that is a nutritionist also, has told me to eat lots of cabbage products because it helps heal leaky gut. One of the natural remedies I was given is L-Glutamine which is cabbage based to help as well (although, I don’t know if it is cooked first?). I do have hypothyroid also. That being said, I would love to see a few more commentaries or studies, etc, from other sources to back this up, thank you.
Interesting question! I know that the Russians who are the “lords” of the sauerkraut also eat foods that are highly nourishing to the thyroid gland, which is a practice I have been trying to follow. I personally know that raw cabbage seems to be quite tough on my tummy, so I would be surprised to find that it was healing my gut! But then again, I have found that homemade sauerkraut very healing so it’s all about what from it’s in. 🙂 I didn’t know that L-Glutamine came from cabbage. Interesting. I know nothing about how it’s made, but it would be interesting to find out for sure.
Cabbage juice is rich in vit. U, which is very healing to the gut. Once healed, then a healthy diet should sustain you and it would not be necessary to continue the cabbage juice. Everything in moderation and for special reasons and lengths of time. It’s too bad we’ve left our traditional ways behind so fast we have to relearn what the best diet for each of us is. Also marrying into so many different backgrounds mixes it up too. Each person has to find what works best, and that takes some work and listening to your body. Good Luck!
Does anyone know if baking instead of steaming would break down the thyroid suppressors in sauerkraut? I realize it would kill the probiotics but I can get that from my pickles. 🙂 I’m nursing so I don’t want to take any risks… plus my mom used to make this awesome sauerkraut bread I want to try and recreate. I was planning on making the sauerkraut this week.
Thank you 🙂
Is it possible to cook the cabbage before you make the sauerkraut? Would that work? Maybe I’ll give it a try and let you know the results. Love your Blog!
I just began taking a “greens” supplement mixed into water as a high nutritional drink. After reading these posts, I also wondered whether the dry stuff would be bad for you too.
I then read Masterjohn’s article and found this entry:
Other groups do not soak the cassava roots; instead they peel them, dry them in the sun, pound them with soaked corn and eat them as gruel. In contrast to the groups who soak the cassava, those who do not have a high prevalence of goiter.
Perhaps we need to pay attention to powdered veggies too.
Anyone have any further comments.
Also, since these veggies can cause a goiter to occur, I’m assuming that the word “goiter” might help in the pronunciation of “goitrogens.”
Interestingly, researchers have found that some people tolerate the taste of cruciferous veggies just fine, while other people find them bitter. Current thinking is that those who don’t notice the bitter taste probably had ancestors who lived by the seaside, while those who do detect it probably had ancestors who lived far inland. I’ve got a related link in my Website field on this comment form, if you’re curious.
Weston Price documented some trade in sea foods going on between coastal indigenous people and other tribes living a bit farther inland, but not all peoples were that lucky.
I have been in the process of transitioning to raw vegan with a goal of 80% raw. Before I started the process, I read about 30 books on the subject which included books by herbalist providing characteristics of many different types of greens, veggies, fruits, vitamins etc. Some greens, like spinach, not only have oxalic acid, but Vitamin K. If you have a history of blood clots (like me), then you need to be careful because many foods and green food supplements contain Vitamin K.
I have been reading about nutrition most of my adult life and have never heard about crucifers containing goitrogens We can educate ourselves to a point, but we will never know everything there is to know about nutrition / foods. By eating everything in moderation and rotating our foods, we should be OK.
In Victoria Boutenko’s “Green Smoothie Revolution”, she states: “The oxalic acid in food is considered harmful because it can combine with calcium and may leach the body of this important mineral. For some reason, everyone knows about the oxalic acid in spinach, but they are not aware of the oxalic acid content in many other commonly eaten foods such as grains, beans, and especially coffee and tea. While spinach is loaded with calcium, which minimizes the loss of this mineral from your body, coffee has none. I would be more concerned about the oxalic acid content in coffee and other products than in spinach. At the same time, even though the oxalic acid content in spinach is minute, if you do not rotate your greens and use only spinach for many weeks, you may accumulate oxalic acid and experience symptoms of poisoning. Remember, rotate your greens!” She also states: “I recommend rotating a minimum of seven varieties of greens, one for each day of the week. ”
Raw foodist / raw vegans juice and blend (green smoothies) a large portion of their meals, which benefits their systems faster than cooked foods; therefore, they need to be more aware of the characteristics of their foods.
You can find more information on oxalic acid at http://www.indepthinfo.com/nutrition/oxalic-acid.shtml
Here is a website that talks more about what foods contain goitrogens. Notice it says that if thyroid problems are not present, then you do not have to be concerned about foods containing goitrogens. http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=george&dbid=47
My mother has had a thyroidectomy and stays tired most of the time and she loves to eat cabbage. I will inform her about the foods that contain goitrogens.
Thanks Kim for providing this information.
Sea vegetables are nature’s richest sources of iodine which is essential to human life. Iodine in seaweed helps regulate our metabolism.
It’s the lactic acid in sauerkraut juice that is supposed to be so good for you.
Should I save the liquid from cooking cabbage, spinach, chard, etc. to use for veggie broth? It seems such a shame to throw it away, but I wonder if it’s advisable.
Cabbage is sometimes referred to as a “goitrogenic” food. Yet, contrary to popular belief, according to the latest studies, foods themselves-cabbage included-are not “goitrogenic” in the sense of causing goiter whenever they are consumed, or even when they are consumed in excess. In fact, most foods that are commonly called “goitrogenic”-such as the cruciferous vegetables (including cabbage, broccoli, kale, and cauliflower) and soyfoods-do not interfere with thyroid function in healthy persons even when they are consumed on a daily basis. Nor is it scientifically correct to say that foods “contain goitrogens,” at least not if you are thinking about goitrogens as a category of substances like proteins, carbohydrates, or vitamins. With respect to the health of our thyroid gland, all that can be contained in a food are nutrients that provide us with a variety of health benefits but which, under certain circumstances, can also interfere with thyroid function. The term “goitrogenic food” makes it sound as if something is wrong with the food, but that is simply not the case. What causes problems for certain individuals is not the food itself but the mismatched nature of certain substances within the food to their unique health circumstances. For more, see an An Up-to-Date Look at Goitrogenic Substances in Food.
Thanks for the awesome info! Question: You quoted Chris Masterjohn in your article. He never specifies on the saurekraut, lacto-fermented or is he referencing what you get off grocery store shelves, which isn’t cultured at all. I would be interested to know if Chris is referencing home made cultured food. I have heard that fermented, cabbage is very good. I am learning to make authentic kimchi from a Korean friend. They eat it everyday (their whole life) and are very healthy people! I have been very excited to eat cultured cabbage and diakon radish in this way, but the above article is making me edgy.
Still searching for more answers.
Great article. I have a hypothyroid imbalance, didn’t know it, and went on a mostly raw diet. I felt 10 x worse! I was wondering why the green smoothies, green juices & powdered greens were making me so exhausted. I had always heard that they were detoxifying & healing, so I upped my intake, not knowing they were making me worse. Now I stick to cooked cruciferous veggies, and just have them a few times a week, and I feel so much better. Interestingly, the SAD diet is also filled with goitrogens aka endocrine disrupters that suppress thyroid function- artificial flavors/ sweeteners, corn syrup, GMO’s, unfermented soy, chemicals in factory farmed meats, pesticides/ herbicides/ fungicides in fruits & veggies. These same chemicals contribute to leaky gut (goes hand in hand with hypothyroid issues). Then a typical sadder that is sick & tired of being sick & tired will go the green smoothie &/or raw vegan route and get a serious goitrogen overdose, though this time from cruciferous veggies & strawberries, not from chemicals. But the end result is the same- weight gain, fatigue & a depressed thyroid.
When I cut out ALL chemical goitrogens, limited the food goitrogems & cooked them, my energy started coming back. There are other factors that need to be dealt with, such as mineral & vitamin deficiencies, healthy digestion, stress, moderate exercise, enough sleep & doing fun things whenever you can.
So goitrogenic veggies can be part of a healthy diet if enjoyed in moderation & mostly cooked. Now I am careful to rotate my food groups. I used to count food groups as meat, veggies, fruit & grains. Now I count food groups according to their ‘family’- Cruciferous veggie family- cauliflower, spinach, kale, broccoli, brussel sprouts, etc.; Nightshades- goji berry, tomatoes, golden berries, eggplant, potatoes, peppers; Pomme (rolls up to rosaceae) apples, rose hips, pears, juneberry aka saskatoon; Prunus (rolls up to rosaceae)- stone fruits aka- cherries, apricots, plums & almonds; Aronia (also rolls up to rosaceae); Ribes- gooseberries, currants; Elaeagnaceae- Autmn Olive berry (not a true olive), Lauraceae- avocado, cinnamon, bay laurel (who would have guessed they were in the same family?), Legumes- peanuts, clover & alfalfa sprouts, lentils, tamarind, carob, mesquite; Asteraceae- lettuce, chicory, sunflower sprouts & seeds, chamomile, jerusalem artichoke, Cucurbitaceae- squashes, pumpkin, cucumber, melons, etc. My list is not perfect or complete (and I omitted grains, cause I rarely eat them but they should also be varied according to family), but you get the idea. Why do I do this? Because the veggies/ fruits in a given family tend to have similar vitamin, mineral & anti-nutrient content. By varying famililes and truly diversifying my diet, I am less likely to overdose on anti-nutrients (like goitrogens, oxalic acid, etc.), and more likely to get a wider variety of vitamins & minerals. I got this from David Wolfe or Daniel Vitalis.
Anyway, I also started growing some of my own veggies & fruits (and adding minerals & probiotics back to my soil), because the grocery stores tend to only carry a few families, so while we think we are eating a wide range of veggies & fruits, we are usually eating produce from the same 3-4 families, which is not nearly diverse enough. Plus, even organic produce can be de-mineralized.
Growing fruits & veggies organically is much easier than I thought, and many organic seed companies & fruit nurseries carry unusual & tasty edibles from a wide array of families. Give it a try, I bet you will love it. I get such a kick harvesting currants, gooseberries, bilberries, lingonberries, blackberries, blueberries, aronia, figs, kiwi, purslane, chickweed, lettuce, sprouts, etc. from my garden. It’s a tiny garden but it’s jam packed with all sorts of goodies. Just use good quality soil & real fertilizer & stay away from Miracle Grow, Scott’s, GMO fertilizers- cottonseed meal, soybean meal, corn gluten & factory farmed manures- from poultry, cow, etc. Better to use organic alfalfa meal, sea kelp emulsions, seabird & bat guano, rock dust/ clay/ greensand, etc.
Good luck everyone, and remember to truly vary your diet, get plenty of real live probiotics & grow a few things if you can. There’s nothing like organic produce straight from your garden!
What do you mean when you state that certain groups or foods “rolls up to rosaceae”?
This is great information concerning which greens are best eaten cooked (vs. raw) but I do have one question: besides lettuce, what are the best dark greens to eat in a salad? I was using kale quite a bit but now think it’s best to steam it. Lettuce isn’t that dark of a green, so I’m just wondering what might be the best salad leaf to use?
Thanks for all the great info.
WOW! I just started a raw vegan lifestyle and I’ve been buying spinach, kale and carrots in BULK to juice DAILY and I have low thyroid levels. GEEZE! I’m SO glad I followed my instincts and researched if some vegetables should be cooked. I had no clue about any of this and I’ve taken 2 college courses in Nutrition, one of which was an in depth advanced course. GO FIGURE!
I too would like to know some good replacement greens for both juicing and smoothies. Your opinion would be greatly appreciated! Also, if you or anyone has ideas for a vegetable high in vitamin C to replace the carrots?
THANKS SO MUCH!
I’ve juiced as well with these veggies, however I think fermented sauerkraut is quite beneficial. Does anyone have this recipe in a simple printable form?
I also started juicing several months ago using spinach, kale, brocolli, carrots etc. I am hypothyroid and so far have not felt any different.. This is great info and now have to figure out what I can juice.. any advise is appreciated.
I have a question re: homemeade sauerkraut……
I have low thyroid function but am one of those who will get very ill if I try to supplement with Iodine ( Auto immune hypothyroid )
I want to eat homemeade sauerkraut for digestion and Candida issues. Would heating it for a while help remove the goitrogens? Will it also kill off the beneficial probiotics and enzymes?