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Jan 23rd 2024

Two Sides of Cruciferous Vegetables

. . . cancer preventers or giotrogens?

Kale is one of a class of vegetables called “crucifers” or “cruciferous vegetables,” and they’re among the most nutritious vegetables around. They possess unique compounds that appear capable of preventing cancer through various mechanisms, helping to eliminate excess and harmful forms of estrogen from the body, supporting detoxification, and even killing H. pylori (the bacteria that cause ulcers and may lead to stomach cancer).

But these very same compounds may also interfere with thyroid function and are known as goitrogens (meaning that they can interfere with the function of the thyroid gland, which, in an extreme case, will produce a goiter). Are cruciferous vegetables safe to eat?

First, what vegetables are we talking about? Besides kale, the cruciferous vegetables include arugula, beet greens, bok choy, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, broccoli sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, collard greens, cress, horseradish, kohlrabi, mustard greens, radishes, rutabaga, Swiss chard, turnips and turnip greens.

It would certainly be a shame to eliminate these healthy choices, and fortunately you don’t have to. If you’re already hypothyroid, it may be wise to limit consumption, but eating cruciferous vegetables doesn’t seem to be a problem for most people. Most, although not all, problems in thyroid function caused by goitrogens can be overcome by making sure you aren’t either protein or iodine deficient. Unfortunately, many people today are iodine deficient. Be sure to get your levels checked!

This is a subject that deserves further study. There have been reports of some people developing hypothyroid symptoms in response to eating large quantities of cruciferous vegetables. The vast majority of the U.S. population, of course, consumes so few vegetables that eating too many crucifers is the last thing they need to worry about. But for the health-conscious, it may be something to keep in mind.

Murillo G. Cruciferous vegetables and cancer prevention. Nutrition and Cancer. 2001; 41(1-2):17-28.
Masterjohn C. Bearers of the cross:  crucifers in the context of traditional diets and modern science. Wise Traditions. Summer 2007, pp. 34-45.




Information contained in NewsClips articles should not be construed as personal medical advice or instruction. These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. Products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.