KALE and Thyroid Health


Kale has become very prevalent here in Trinidad and Tobago, we have both local and foreign kale in most of the supermarkets and many people use them daily for such things as green smoothies. Holistically You is one of those suppliers for locally grown organic kale.

Kale is rich in vitamins K, A and C as well as other nutrients. The health benefits include (but limited to):

  • It is an anti-inflammatory agent promoting omega 6 and 3 balance within the body.

  • Its an antioxidant counteracting the damage caused by free radicals. It detoxifies by removing and expelling toxins from the body,

  • Lutein and zeaxanthin found in kale have shown to prevent macular degeneration and cataracts

  • Glucosinolates a large group of sulphur containing compounds are known to prevent cancer cells growth.

Despite all these benefits however there has been some concerns about the use of kale and how it affects ones thyroid. Cruciferous vegetables such as bok choy, broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower and kale contain goitrogenic glucosinolates, which produce thiocyanates that compete with iodine for absorption by the thyroid gland. Kale and cabbage contain the most thiocyanates while other cruciferous vegetables contain it in small amount.

So what does this mean exactly. Our thyroid needs iodine to produce thyroid hormone. When exposed to very high amounts of thiocyanate it can potentially result in an underactive thyroid (hypothyroidism) and compensatory growth of the thyroid (goiter). These foods therefore need to be cooked and if eaten raw may need to be limited by people with goiter or hypothyroidism. In usual amounts the general population can consume kale as part of their healthy eating lifestyle.

As always, it is important to talk to your doctor regarding your individual risk for a thyroid disorder and what types of food are right for you.