The salad your thyroid will love

healthy salad for your thyroid

By Jacqueline Tourville and Dr. Amber Hayden

You know there’s a salad in your future. Why not make it one that gives your thyroid a nutritional boost? It couldn’t be more simple: foods that are rich in the vitamins, minerals and other nutrients your thyroid needs are many of the same foods that can turn a plain old salad into something super tasty. The next time you get out the salad bowl, try adding some of these thyroid-friendly ingredients to the mix.

cooked wild caught salmon fillets

Wild-caught salmon: Packed with good-for-your-thyroid nutrients — like protein, B-12, omega-3 fatty acids, and zinc — wild-caught salmon is also one of the few foods naturally rich in vitamin D, a crucial vitamin for thyroid function. Fresh salmon is great, but also look for canned wild-caught salmon that you can add to your salad as you would tuna.

crispy seaweed on wooden plate

Sea vegetables: Seaweed is a rich source for iodine, your thyroid’s basic building block for producing its hormones. Crumble a sheet of roasted nori (used to make sushi rolls) to give your salad a mild, nutty flavor. Or try kelp, commonly sold in powder/granule form. Sprinkle as you would cracked pepper or other herb seasoning. Arame seaweed looks like black wiry pasta and has a more pungent flavor. Soak arame first to soften, then chop to matchstick size for a picture-perfect salad garnish. Because of sea vegetables’ high iodine content, a little can go a long way.

brazil nuts on wooden table

Brazil nuts: Eating just two Brazil nuts a day can give you a big boost of the mineral selenium, a major component of your body’s ability to create and use thyroid hormones. Before adding to your salad, chop or crush nuts first. Have a nut allergy? Other salad-friendly food sources for selenium include grass-fed beef, boneless turkey, chicken, and eggs.

sesame seeds

Sesame seeds: Hidden inside these tiny little seeds is a large helping of zinc, the mineral responsible for converting thyroid hormones into the active form your body uses. Sprinkle seeds liberally on your salad for added flavor and texture. Not a fan of sesame? Try pumpkin seeds instead for similar nutritional value.

shiitake mushrooms in bowl

Shiitake mushrooms: Your thyroid needs iron to aid in hormone production, as well as copper, to stimulate the thyroid, and keep hormones balanced. Shiitake mushrooms are considered good sources for both minerals. Iron and copper work in synergy, too, as copper helps us more easily utilize iron. To add fresh shiitake mushrooms to your salad, wash thoroughly and cut into thin slices. Can’t find shiitake mushrooms? Crimini “baby bella” mushrooms offer similar benefits.

fresh spinach in bowl on wooden table

Greens: Spinach, kale, and other leafy salad greens are nutritional powerhouses, and good sources for thyroid-friendly B vitamins, vitamin C, and iron. However, most greens also contain compounds known to hinder thyroid function. As with everything, try to strike a balance. Many thyroid enthusiasts find that when your diet is filled with foods that are good for your thyroid, the benefits of greens far outweigh any negatives. If you do have low thyroid, lightly steaming greens first can help. Another option is to use Boston “bibb” or Romaine lettuce, both of which are naturally lower in these compounds.

coconut oil liquid form and solid form

Coconut Oil: The medium chain triglycerides in coconut oil can boost thyroid function by helping to increase metabolism. To harness the power of coconut oil in your salad, try this tasty Asian-inspired dressing:

You will need:

  • ¼ cup honey
  • 3 Tbsp. apple cider vinegar
  • 2 tbsp. lemon juice
  • 1/2 tsp. ground ginger
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • ⅓ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • ⅓ cup coconut oil, warmed to liquid state

Whisk ingredients in a bowl. Makes 10 servings. Store in a glass mason jar and keep in the fridge, which will harden the oil. Before using, run the jar under warm water until contents are liquid. Shake well.

Ready for a super salad? Put all these ingredients together and presto…you have a healthy salad that’s guaranteed to make your thyroid happy. Now that’s good — and tasty — medicine.

For more thyroid-healthy eating ideas, see our article What to eat to support your thyroid.