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What vegetables should not be eaten raw?

The raw food movement has encouraged many people to eat more vegetables, which has proven very beneficial especially for those on a highly processed diet. However, some foods are better consumed cooked as they can actually be depleting when raw.

A group of anti-nutrients known as "goitrogens" may disrupt the production of thyroid hormones, as they interfere with iodine uptake in the thyroid gland, leading to poor metabolism and potentially goiter. Good news is that they can actually be destroyed by cooking.

Goitrogens can be found in sweet potato, soya, millet and cruciferous vegetables. Cruciferous are in many cases eaten raw or juiced for their health properties, but especially people with compromised thyroid function are better off eating them slightly cooked.

Cruciferous include:

  • Arugula (aka rocket... normally used raw in salads, just don't overdo it)

  • Bok choy

  • Broccoli

  • Brussel sprouts

  • Cabbage

  • Cauliflower

  • Collards

  • Kale

  • Watercress

The thyroid gland is responsible for cellular metabolism, which helps produce energy for all of our body's functions, including our sleep. An underperforming thyroid which does not produce sufficient amounts of thyroxine (T4) makes everything go into a slow, depressed mode.

Underperforming thyroid is very common in women after 40. According to guidelines, "healthy" ranges are quite broad. Even when within range, your body may not be producing as much as you are used to; non-clinical hypothyroidism can still create unpleasant symptoms: from increased reactions to allergens, insomnia, and tiredness to digestive disorders, thinning of hair, dry skin and lowered libido.

There are some key nutrients required for T4 synthesis: Tyrosine, vitamins B, A and E, as well as calcium, manganese, zinc and iodine. Selenium is also required for the conversion of T4 into its active form, T3. So ensuring a good supply of these nutrients and avoiding goitrogens are good measures to support this often neglected but crucial gland.

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