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Beets, which belong to the same plant family as spinach, Swiss chard and quinoa, contain a variety of compounds that are gaining attention for their ability to positively impact human health. Beets contain a unique combination of phytonutrients, which are plant compounds that display antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties that may be beneficial in reducing an enlarged thyroid, or goiter. Both the roots and greens of beets contain beneficial compounds. Consult with your doctor if you notice a swelling in the front of your neck.
Causes of Goiter
The thyroid is a butterfly-shaped gland located in the front of your neck just below the Adam's apple. The thyroid, like all glands, is sensitive to environmental changes, dietary deficiencies and toxins. Virtually any problem with the thyroid leads to inflammation or swelling, which is called a goiter. A goiter is not necessarily indicative of thyroid disease or noticeable dysfunction, although it is a sign of some sort of imbalance. According to the “Textbook of Functional Medicine,” common causes of goiters include iodine deficiency, hormone imbalance, pituitary or hypothalamus gland dysfunction, radiation exposure, cancer, and autoimmune diseases such as:
- Graves' disease
- Hashimoto’s disease (# 'inline-reference::Textbook of Functional Medicine; David S
Jones et al. ').
- The thyroid is a butterfly-shaped gland located in the front of your neck just below the Adam's apple.
- A goiter is not necessarily indicative of thyroid disease or noticeable dysfunction, although it is a sign of some sort of imbalance.
Thyroid Shrinking With Herbs
Not all goiters lead to signs and symptoms; this depends on the cause of the thyroid swelling. When signs and symptoms do occur, they usually include:
- a tight feeling in the throat
- difficulty swallowing
- difficulty breathing
- according to MayoClinic.com 2
A swollen thyroid can also be indicative of thyroid dysfunction. The production of too much thyroid hormone is called hyperthyroidism, the symptoms of which include
- increased metabolism
- weight loss
- oily skin
Benefits of Beets
Iodine-rich foods such as kelp are usually recommended to prevent goiters, but beets contain very little if any iodine. However, the roots and greens of beets are good sources of phytonutrients called betalains. Betanin and vulgaxanthin are betalains in beets that display antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and detoxification properties, according to “Principles and Practice of Phytotherapy: Modern Herbal Medicine.” These betalains inhibit the activity of COX-1 and COX-2 enzymes, which help to limit inflammation and swelling within the body 3. Consequently, eating beet roots or beet greens may help to reduce the symptoms of goiters that are caused by factors other than iodine deficiency.
- Iodine-rich foods such as kelp are usually recommended to prevent goiters, but beets contain very little if any iodine.
- Consequently, eating beet roots or beet greens may help to reduce the symptoms of goiters that are caused by factors other than iodine deficiency.
Greens, Kale & Thyroid Problems
Beets are not a cure for goiter, but the betalains in beets may help reduce the swelling, according to "Principles and Practice of Phytotherapy: Modern Herbal Medicine." Just keep in mind that cooking beets at high heat or in the microwave destroys many of their beneficial phytonutrients 3. To retain the most nutrients, lightly boil, bake or steam beets before peeling them. You can easily rub the skin off after the beets are cooked.
- Beets are not a cure for goiter, but the betalains in beets may help reduce the swelling, according to "Principles and Practice of Phytotherapy: Modern Herbal Medicine."
Thyroid Shrinking With Herbs
Greens, Kale & Thyroid Problems
Can I Eat Seaweed If I Have Hyperthyroidism?
Brussel Sprouts & Hypothyroid
The Best Herbs for Thyroid Health
Kelp Overdose Symptoms
Gout and Iodine
Is Kelp or Dulse Higher in Iodine?
Symptoms of Excessive Iodine Intake
Which Herbs Are Bad for the Thyroid?
- Textbook of Functional Medicine; David S. Jones et al.
- MayoClinic.com: Goiter - Symptoms
- Principles and Practice of Phytotherapy: Modern Herbal Medicine; Simon Mills and Kerry Bone
- Beets, raw. FoodData Central. U.S. Department of Agriculture. Published April 1, 2019.
- Sawicki T, Bączek N, Wiczkowski W. Betalain profile, content and antioxidant capacity of red beetroot dependent on the genotype and root part. J Funct Foods. 2016;27:249-261. doi:10.1016/j.jff.2016.09.004
- Domínguez R, Cuenca E, Maté-Muñoz JL, et al. Effects of beetroot juice supplementation on cardiorespiratory endurance in athletes. A systematic review. Nutrients. 2017;9(1). doi:10.3390/nu9010043
- Kapil V, Khambata RS, Robertson A, Caulfield MJ, Ahluwalia A. Dietary nitrate provides sustained blood pressure lowering in hypertensive patients: A randomized, phase 2, double-blind, placebo-controlled study. Hypertension. 2015;65(2):320-7. doi:10.1161/HYPERTENSIONAHA.114.04675
- Presley TD, Morgan AR, Bechtold E, et al. Acute effect of a high nitrate diet on brain perfusion in older adults. Nitric Oxide. 2011;24(1):34-42. doi:10.1016/j.niox.2010.10.002
- Gilchrist M, Winyard PG, Fulford J, Anning C, Shore AC, Benjamin N. Dietary nitrate supplementation improves reaction time in type 2 diabetes: Development and application of a novel nitrate-depleted beetroot juice placebo. Nitric Oxide. 2014;40:67-74. doi:10.1016/j.niox.2014.05.003
- Lopes de Oliveira LC, Genov IR, Cabral EDC, MF Mello YA, Mallozi MC, Solé D. Anaphylaxis to beetroot (Beta vulgaris): A case report. Clin Transl Allergy. 2011;1(Suppl 1):P51. doi:10.1186/2045-7022-1-S1-P51
- Getting JE, Gregoire JR, Phul A, Kasten MJ. Oxalate nephropathy due to 'juicing': Case report and review. Am J Med. 2013;126(9):768-72. doi:10.1016/j.amjmed.2013.03.019
- Beets, cooked, boiled. FoodData Central. U.S. Department of Agriculture. Published April 1, 2019.
- Beets, canned. FoodData Central. U.S. Department of Agriculture. Published April 1, 2019.
- Beets, pickled. FoodData Central. U.S. Department of Agriculture. Published April 1, 2019.
Sirah Dubois is currently a PhD student in food science after having completed her master's degree in nutrition at the University of Alberta. She has worked in private practice as a dietitian in Edmonton, Canada and her nutrition-related articles have appeared in The Edmonton Journal newspaper.