If you have hypothyroidism, or an underactive thyroid, you may experience fatigue, depression, constipation, and other more serious health issues. Fortunately, eating certain foods can help boost the efficiency of your thyroid, a small butterfly-shaped gland in your neck that plays an important role in the functioning of your body.

The thyroid produces hormones that regulate mood, metabolism, energy levels, body temperature, heart rate and blood pressure. Hypothyroidism occurs when this gland does not produce enough hormones to meet your body’s needs. Taking thyroid hormone replacement medication daily can help restore your thyroid hormone levels and control your symptoms. In addition to taking your thyroid medication, you can help support thyroid function by eating a balanced diet that includes plenty of fruits and vegetables and protein, among other healthy foods. Next time you’re grocery shopping, look for these seven nutrient-dense foods.

1 Omega-3s in fish help fight inflammation and boost the immune system

The omega-3 fatty acids found in fatty fish such as wild salmon, trout, tuna or sardines make this food an excellent choice for lunch or dinner. Unmanaged hypothyroidism can increase the risk of heart disease due to higher levels of low-density lipoprotein (LDL), the “bad” cholesterol. Omega-3s are known to decrease inflammation, help immunity, and reduce the risk of heart disease. Fish is also a good source of selenium, a nutrient that is mostly concentrated in the thyroid and helps reduce inflammation.

2 Nuts are rich in selenium, which helps the thyroid function

Another great source of selenium, nuts are a handy snack you can take anywhere. They also fit very well in salads or stir-fries. Brazil nuts, macadamia nuts and hazelnuts are all particularly high in selenium, which, according to a 2017 review published in the International Journal of Endocrinology, helps the thyroid function properly. With Brazil nuts, you only need to eat one or two. With other nuts, a small handful is all it takes to get your daily nutrients and be sure to watch portion sizes, as walnuts are also very high in fat. A side note: nuts can interfere with the absorption of thyroid hormones, so avoid eating them at the same time as taking your medication.

3 Whole grains help relieve constipation, a symptom of hypothyroidism

Constipation is a common symptom of hypothyroidism. Whole grain foods, such as cereals, breads, pasta and rice, are rich in nutrients and fiber, which may promote bowel regularity. However, fiber can interfere with synthetic thyroid hormones. Some people with hypothyroidism choose to avoid whole grains altogether, but if you do decide to eat them, it is recommended that you take your thyroid medications several hours before or after eating foods high in dietary fiber.

4 Fresh fruits and vegetables help manage weight gain

Weight gain is an early symptom of hypothyroidism. Low-calorie, high-density foods, such as fresh produce, are the cornerstone of any successful weight loss program. Include fresh fruit or vegetables with every meal, if possible. Certain foods like blueberries, cherries, sweet potatoes and green peppers are also high in antioxidants, nutrients known to reduce the risk of heart disease. However, people with hypothyroidism may want to limit their intake of cruciferous vegetables, such as broccoli and cabbage, because they can block the thyroid’s ability to absorb iodine, which is essential for normal thyroid function.

5 Seaweed contains iodine, which is essential for the functioning of the thyroid

Seaweed has a high concentration of iodine, an essential nutrient for thyroid function. Iodine is the precursor to the production of thyroid hormone. Seaweed, packaged as nori, wakame and dulse, can be used in sushi, soups and salads. Another benefit: seaweed offers nutritional benefits in terms of fibre, calcium and vitamins A, B, C, E and K. It is possible to consume too much iodine, which can aggravate thyroid disease. However, the likelihood of such a situation is greater if you take supplements that contain iodine.

6 Essential Vitamin D for Your Thyroid Diet

Vitamin D may help improve thyroid levels, according to a 2018 study published in the Indian Journal of Endocrinology and Metabolism, which found that vitamin D supplements improved TSH levels in subjects with hypothyroidism , as well as thyroid antibodies in people with autoimmune thyroiditis. Since Hashimoto’s disease can also cause changes that contribute to gut issues like heartburn, foods like yogurt that contain good bacteria can help regulate other bacteria.

7 Beans Help Maintain Energy

Inexpensive and versatile, beans are a great source of long-lasting energy, which can be helpful if hypothyroidism leaves you feeling exhausted. Beans contain protein, antioxidants, complex carbohydrates and many vitamins and minerals. They’re also high in fiber, which can be beneficial if you suffer from constipation, a common side effect of hypothyroidism. If you’re new to beans, there are many varieties you can try, all of which can be used as a base for main dishes, as side dishes, and to spice up soups, salads, and stews. Just be careful not to overuse it. Guidelines recommend that adults consume 20 to 35 grams of fiber daily, but too much fiber can interfere with your treatment for hypothyroidism.

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