Ultimate guide

11 Vitamins To Help With Thyroid Function

Your thyroid is a butterfly-shaped gland that sits in the front of your neck and controls many important bodily functions through the hormones it produces. These hormones affect breathing, heart rate, digestion, and body temperature, so when this powerful gland malfunctions it can be devastating.

Thyroid problems may begin when too much or too little thyroid hormones are made, which can result in extreme changes in your weight, digestion, energy, and mood, and even develop into thyroid disease. In addition to the many medicinal options to manage thyroid function, there are also holistic approaches such as diet and supplementation to nourish this small but mighty gland and keep it working efficiently. This article will focus on 11 vitamins and nutrients that can help your thyroid function better. (Source, Source)

Our team of expert practitioners at WellTheory provide comprehensive autoimmune care to support healthier thyroid function. Our 1-1 coaching is tailored to your evolving health needs, with a focus on nutrition, sleep hygiene, stress management, movement, and connect to self, others, and nature. Learn more about our membership here.

What Is Thyroid Disease?

Thyroid disease affects about 27 million Americans. When the gland overproduces hormones it is referred to as hyperthyroidism, and underproduction is known as hypothyroidism. Thyroid diseases may be autoimmune in nature, but there are many other causes.

Some causes of hyperthyroidism include:
  • Graves’ disease, an autoimmune condition
  • inflammation of the thyroid gland
  • growths, called nodules, on the thyroid gland
  • excessive intake of iodine

Some causes of hypothyroidism include:
  • Hashimoto’s disease, an autoimmune condition
  • surgery on or radiation to the thyroid gland, used to treat hyperthyroidism or thyroid cancer
  • being born with an undeveloped thyroid gland
  • medications that interfere with production of thyroid hormones

(Source, Source, Source)

Symptoms of Thyroid Disease

People with hypothyroidism as well as those with hyperthyroidism will most likely notice unusual symptoms that showcase the body is off balance. If you have experienced any of these uncomfortable and alarming symptoms, you most likely have sought help from a health care professional to figure out what’s going on. Due to the malfunction of the thyroid gland, your body will not be able to keep up with its usual demands to operate normally, creating symptoms that may feel difficult to manage.

Symptoms of hypothyroidism include:
  • intolerance to cold
  • weight gain
  • depression
  • fatigue
  • constipation
  • menstrual cycle dysregulation such as light, heavy, or irregular bleeding, or no menstruation at all

Symptoms of hyperthyroidism include:
  • intolerance to heat
  • weight loss
  • anxiety and nervousness
  • diarrhea
  • heart palpitations
  • menstrual cycle dysregulation such as light, heavy, or irregular bleeding, or no menstruation at all
  • faster heart rate

(Source, Source, Source, Source, Source)

Who Is Affected by Thyroid Disease?

Thyroid disorders can affect anyone at any age, whether it presents at birth, develops as you age, or is inherited. Though it is not uncommon to be affected by a thyroid disorder, women are 5 to 8 times more likely to be diagnosed than men. The following factors may put you at a higher risk of developing thyroid disease:

  • genetic predisposition: Your risk is higher if someone in your family has been diagnosed previously.
  • underlying medical conditions: You are at higher risk if you suffer from pernicious anemia, Type 1 diabetes, Addison’s disease, lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, Sjögren’s syndrome, or Turner syndrome.
  • taking medication that is high in iodine: Too much iodine can induce or worsen hyperthyroid symptoms, causing similar reactions to iodine deficiency.
  • age: Women, especially over the age of 50, are at a greater risk due to menopause related hormonal changes.
  • history of thyroid conditions: You are at higher risk of thyroid disease if you have had previous treatment for thyroid conditions or cancer.

(Source, Source, Source, Source)

Lifestyle Effects on Thyroid Function

Supporting your thyroid with diet and lifestyle can be an important piece to fueling your overall health and wellbeing while keeping your thyroid functioning optimally. You may be genetically predisposed to thyroid disease, or develop it due to environmental and lifestyle factors, as these both affect how your genes respond to changes in your environment.

Due to the fact that a dysfunctional thyroid may stem from an autoimmune thyroid disease, dietary and lifestyle strategies and using supplements for thyroid health may be useful in managing thyroid function.

Lifestyle factors that may contribute to poor thyroid function include:
  • smoking
  • consuming alcohol
  • nutrient deficiencies
  • underlying infections
  • excessive stress


11 Vitamins to Help With Thyroid Function

Vitamins specific to thyroid health are found in food sources as well as dietary supplements, and may be a good option for a more holistic approach to supporting thyroid hormone metabolism. Supplementation may support thyroid function in both overactive and underactive thyroid conditions. Take care to source high quality supplements for optimum thyroid support.

(Source, Source)

01. B12

Those with hypothyroidism are commonly deficient in vitamin B12 due to poor diet and having other medical conditions that limit absorption of nutrients, such as pernicious anemia, atrophic gastritis, gluten sensitivity, slow emptying of the gut, and an overgrowth of bacteria. Low levels of vitamin B12 can lead to the development of hypothyroidism, and supplementation has been shown to lower thyroid antibodies and improve thyroid function.

Symptoms Of Low Or Poor B12 Absorption May Include:
  • Depression
  • Memory loss or brain fog
  • Dementia
  • Fatigue

Supplementing with vitamin B12 early on in a hypothyroid diagnosis may reverse some cognitive and anemic issues. Food sources of B12 include:

  • fish
  • meat
  • poultry
  • eggs
  • clams
  • beef liver

(SourceSource, Source)

02. Vitamin A

Vitamin A is a group of fat soluble compounds that are involved in the structure and function of the thyroid. As with iron, a vitamin A deficiency may interfere with the uptake of iodine in the thyroid, lowering thyroid hormone levels. This group of compounds plays a huge role in regulating T cells, which are important for healthy immune function and may be an integral piece to the development of thyroid autoimmune disease.

Vitamin A is a micronutrient found highest in liver, fish, and eggs, as well as:

Leafy green vegetables

  • spinach
  • broccoli

Orange and yellow vegetables

  • summer squash
  • sweet potatoes
  • pumkin
  • carrots
  • peppers


  • cantaloupe
  • mango
  • apricots

Include a variety of fresh fruits and vegetables along with high quality sources of whole foods in your diet to keep your vitamin A levels up and support optimal thyroid health.

(Source, Source)

03. Vitamin C

Vitamin C is a water soluble vitamin that is not stored in the body and needs to be replenished daily via food or supplementation. Vitamin C is an antioxidant that protects the thyroid gland from oxidative damage and is useful for restoring thyroid function. Research has shown this vitamin helps those who are on levothyroxine, a synthetic hormone used for goiter or hypothyroidism, absorb it better. Vitamin C-rich foods include fruits and vegetables such as:

  • citrus fruits
  • kiwi
  • cantaloupe
  • strawberries
  • brussels sprouts
  • broccoli


04. Vitamin D

Vitamin D, sometimes known as the “sunshine vitamin,” is good for many ailments but is especially helpful in supporting a solid immune system. Low vitamin D levels have been linked to onset of autoimmune hypothyroidism, and research has shown that patients with Hashimoto’s thyroiditis are often severely deficient. Due to its anti-inflammatory and immune modulating effects, vitamin D supplementation could reduce the risk of developing a thyroid autoimmune disease. Your body may be able to produce adequate amounts of vitamin D if you spend enough time in direct sunlight, but it may not be safe or practical to sun yourself every day. Some foods contain small amounts of vitamin D naturally and some are fortified with this critical nutrient, but even if you maintain a healthy, varied diet you may need to take a vitamin D supplement.

  • fatty fish such as trout, salmon, tuna, mackerel
  • beef liver
  • egg yolks
  • mushrooms

(Source, Source)

05. Vitamin E

Vitamin E is fat soluble and a powerful antioxidant. Similar to vitamin D, vitamin E also plays a role in immune health. In terms of thyroid health, vitamin E has the ability to protect your cells from damage that may occur with hyperthyroidism.

This vitamin can be found in food sources such as:

  • nuts, especially almonds
  • seeds, especially sunflower
  • spinach
  • broccoli


06. Iodine

Iodine is a trace mineral essential for thyroid function. This mineral is naturally found in foods such as:

  • seaweed
  • fish
  • seafood
  • iodized salt

The amount of iodine in food will vary according to how it is sourced. Fruits and vegetables contain very low amounts of iodine and are not a good source to get your daily intake. Iodine deficiency is not at all common in the United States, but there are certain factors that could lead to a need for more iodine such as:

  • following a vegan diet devoid of foods with high amounts of iodine
  • pregnancy, when extra iodine is needed for the health of the developing fetus
  • over consumption of foods that impede the uptake of iodine in the thyroid, such as soy, cassava, and cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli, cabbage, and cauliflower. (This is primarily a problem for people living in areas where iodine deficiency is widespread — not including the United States.)
  • not using iodized salt

It’s important to note there is evidence iodine supplementation can actually make Hashimoto’s disease, a common cause of hypothyroidism, worse, and that in cases of Hashimoto’s iodine restriction may actually be more beneficial. Regardless of whether you’ve been diagnosed with a thyroid condition or not, be sure to consult with your health care provider before considering supplementing with iodine —more is not necessarily better.

(Source, Source)

07. Iron

Iron deficiency may interfere with the uptake of iodine in the thyroid, limiting the production of thyroid hormones. Conversely, hypothyroidism may cause iron deficiency that may progress to iron deficiency anemia. Supplementing with iron may be helpful in replenishing iron stores for optimal thyroid function, and may help normalize thyroid hormone levels when levothyroxine (a synthetic thyroid hormone replacement) alone isn’t working well enough.

Iron can be found in food sources such as:

  • lean meats
  • seafood
  • poultry
  • spicach
  • peas
  • nuts

(Source, Source, Source, Source)

08. Turmeric

Turmeric is an ancient Indian spice containing the powerful compound curcumin. This yellow-tinged spice has been used as an anti-inflammatory and has tumor and infection fighting properties. Curcumin is good for reducing the damage of oxidative stress induced by triiodothyronine (T3), one of the two hormones the thyroid produces. Turmeric can be taken in capsule form or tinctures, or of course the spice can be used in food and drinks as well.

(Source, Source)

09. Magnesium

Magnesium is a mineral that is essential to a well functioning thyroid and your body in general. Magnesium is important for reducing inflammation and oxidative stress, and magnesium deficiency can cause an array of issues and chronic disease. Needed for hundreds of enzymatic reactions in the body, research has shown that low levels of magnesium may interfere with the uptake of iodine in the thyroid, as well as increased risk of an autoimmune response.

Although a lack of magnesium does not directly cause hypothyroidism, it may spark the inflammation that precedes autoimmune thyroiditis. Supplementing with magnesium can be done via capsule, powder, or oil in addition to food sources such as:

  • leafy greens
  • nuts
  • seeds

(Source, Source)

10. Selenium

Selenium is a trace element found in a variety of foods and available as a supplement. Selenium is found in the thyroid in higher concentrations than in other organs and plays a role in metabolizing thyroid hormones. Selenium deficiency has been associated with hypothyroidism, thyroiditis, and goiter. Selenium supplements are available, but levels can be met nutritionally through food sources as well.

Good sources of selenium include:

  • Brazil nuts
  • seafood
  • eggs
  • organ meats
  • muscle meats

(Source, Source)

11. Zinc

Zinc is involved in thyroid hormone synthesis, and a deficiency in this trace element can result in hypothyroidism. Thyroid hormones are important in the body’s ability to absorb zinc, so if the thyroid does not make enough hormone it will decrease levels of zinc.

Zinc can be supplemented as well as found in foods such as:

  • oysters
  • meat
  • fish
  • poultry
  • seafood

(Source, Source)

The Bottom Line on Vitamins To Help With Thyroid Function

Thyroid health can be supported by focusing on essential vitamins and nutrients included in a diverse, whole foods diet, along with positive lifestyle habits and any prescribed thyroid medication you may be on. The health of your thyroid is important in how you feel each day, so including thyroid healthy vitamins and nutrients in your diet not only supports optimal thyroid function but also improves your quality of life. WellTheory’s Care Team can provide you personalized nutrition and lifestyle support to support thyroid health or other autoimmune symptoms you may be experiencing.

Tips & Tricks

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The Ultimate Guide To Phytonutrients

Lycopene is the phytochemical that gives fruits and vegetables their red color. Lycopene is a potent antioxidant and has anti-inflammatory properties that protect the body from oxidative stress. Lycopene has also been found to decrease “bad” low density lipoprotein (LDL) and increase “good” high density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol.

Lycopene may also protect the skin against ultraviolet (UV) damage from the sun. One small study found that participants who added 16milligrams of lycopene to their diet every day had less severe skin reactions to UV light over 10 weeks than a control group without the added lycopene. (Of course, consumption of lycopene-rich foods doesn’t replace sunscreen!)

AIP-Compliant Red Foods and Their Phytonutrient Compounds
Blood Orange
flavonoids, hesperidin, isohesperidin, limonene, limonin, lycopene, naringin, terpenio
anthocyanin, flavonoids, hydro-xycinnamates
anthocyanin, catechins, ellagic acid, hippuric acid, kaempferol, lycopene, triterpenoids, quercetin, quinic acid
beta-carotene, lutein, lycopene, polyphenois
anthocyanin, cyanidin, ellagic acid, lycopene
Red Grape
anthocyanin, cyanidin, ellagic acid, flavonols, kaempferol, lycopene, myricetin, peonidin, quercetin, resveratrol
Pink Guava
alkaloids, ellagic acid, lycopene
Red/Pink Grapefruit
beta cryptoxanthin, lycopene, naringin, narirutin, ponciri
Red Onion
copaene, flavonols, lycopene, polysulfides, quercetin, vinyldithiins
Red Beet
betacyanin, flavonoids, lycopene, phenolic acids
Other Red Foods and Their Phytonutrient Compounds
beta-carotene, kaempferol, lycopene, rutin
Red Bell Pepper
anthocyanin, capsaicinoid, beta-cryptoxanthin, lutein, lycopene, zeaxanthin
beta-carotene, canthaxanthin, lycopene, tocopherols
Red Potato
alpha linoleic acid, anthocyanin, flavonoids, polyphenols, tocopherols
beta-carotene, lycopene, zeaxanthin

Ways to incorporate more red foods into your diet

  • Add red-colored fruits and vegetables to salads.
  • Opt for red pasta sauces made from tomatoes instead of carbonara or Alfredo sauce. Red sauces can also be used as toppings for other dishes!
  • Have salsa as a dip alongside tortilla chips or eggs, or on top of potatoes.
  • Make a juice using lycopene-rich foods.
  • Add some goji berries to your chrysanthemum, chamomile, or any other tea.

Phytonutrients in Orange Foods

Carotenoids are responsible for yellow, orange, and red color in many fruits and vegetables. Research suggests that one carotenoid in particular, beta-carotene, may protect against decline in lung function. A study done in 2017 also suggested that eating fruits and vegetables rich in carotenoids such as beta-carotene, alpha-carotene ,and beta-cryptoxanth in had protective effects against lung cancer.
Like lycopene, dietary intake of beta-carotene has protective effects against diseases that are mediated by oxidative stress, such as diabetes, cancer, and autoimmune diseases. High levels of alpha carotene are associated with longevity — one large U.S. study found that high levels of alpha-carotene in the blood were linked with a reduced risk of death over a 14 year period. Aside from its antioxidant effects, the carotenoid beta-cryptoxanthin may prevent bone loss and may have anti-inflammatory and anticancer properties.

AIP-Compliant Orange Foods and Their Phytonutrient Compounds
beta-carotene, lycopene, rutin, tartaric acid
Butternut Squash
alpha-carotene, beta-carotene, beta-cryptoxanthin, lutein, phenolic acids, zeaxanthin
beta-carotene, beta-cryptoxanthin, gallic acid, kaempferol, lutein, zeaxanthin
alpha-carotene, beta-carotenes, beta-cryptoxanthin, caffeic acid, chlorogenic acid, lycopene
Mandarin Oranges
alpha-carotene, beta-carotene, beta-cryptoxanthin, flavonoids, lutein, zeaxanthin
beta-carotene, beta-cryptoxanthin, beta-glucogallin, ellagicacid, quercetin
beta-carotene, beta-cryptoxanthin, flavonoids, hesperidin, isohesperidin, naringin, terpineol, limonene, limonin
beta-cryptoxanthin, lutein, zeaxanthin
alpha-carotene, anthocyanidins, beta-carotene, beta-cryptoxanthin, phenolic acids, rutin
beta-carotene, beta-cryptoxanthin, catechin, kaempferol, proanthocyanidins, quercetin, triterpenoid
alpha-carotene, beta-carotene, beta-cryptoxanthin, lutein, phenolic acids, phytic acid, zeaxanthin
Sea Buckthorn
beta-carotene, beta-cryptoxanthin, lutein, lycopene, quercetin, zeaxanthin
Sweet potato
alkaloids, anthocyanin, betacarotene, flavonoids, oxalic acid, phenolic acids
alpha-carotene, beta-carotene, lutein, lycopene, tangeritin, zeaxanthin
curcumin, curcumenol, demethoxycurcumin, eugenol, turmerin, turmerones, zingiberene
Winter Squash
alpha-carotene, beta-carotene, beta-cryptoxanthin, lutein, zeaxanthin
alkaloids, beta-carotene, flavonoids, phenol
Other Orange Foods and Their Phytonutrient Compounds
Orange Lentils
beta-carotene, flavonoids, phytic acid, tocopherols, flavonols
Orange Bell Pepper
beta-carotene, lycopene, capsaicinoid, lycopene, phenols

Ways to incorporate more orange foods into your diet

  • Have a baked sweet potato instead of white potato
  • Add turmeric powder to stir-fries, or make a warm cup of ginger and turmeric tea.
  • Have orange-colored foods as a snack throughout the day, such as tangerines, papaya, or peaches
  • Make a pumpkin, butternut squash, or carrot soup.
  • Make a smoothie out of orange-colored foods

Phytonutrients in Yellow Foods

Lutein and zeaxanthin are also part of the carotenoid family, along with beta-carotene, alpha-carotene, and beta-cryptoxanthin. Lutein and zeaxanthin are the only dietary carotenoids that reach the retina, the thin layer of tissue that lines the inside on the back of the eye. They are known to support eye health and have preventative effects against age-related macular degeneration, an eye disease that can lead to the loss of vision as we age. However, lutein and zeaxanthin also have strong antioxidant and anti-inflammatory capabilities. Zeaxanthin can also help to recycle glutathione, another important antioxidant in the body. (9, 15)

AIP-Compliant Yellow Foods and Their Phytonutrient Compounds
Yellow Apple
catechin, chlorogenicacid, flavonols, quercetin, rutin
beta-cryptoxanthin, lutein, tartaric acid
beta-carotene, lutein, oxalic acid, zeaxanthin
Golden Beet
beta-carotene, beta-cryptoxanthin, flavonoids, lutein, phenolic acids, zeaxanthin, flavonoids
Yellow Cauliflower
beta-carotene, polyphenols, protocatechuic acid, quercetin
Yellow Dragon Fruit
betacyanin, betacarotene, flavonoids, lutein, phenolic acid, zeaxanthin, phenolic acid
alpha-carotene, anthocyanin, betacarotene, flavonoids, lutein, polyphenols, zeaxanthin
alkaloids, betacarotene, biolaxantin, gallicacid, neoxanthin, quercetin, terpenoids, zeaxanthin
gingerol, monoterpenes, oxalicacid, quercetin
Golden Kiwi
beta-carotene, betacryptoxanthin, caffeicacid, chlorogenicacid, lutein, phenolics, quinic acid, zeaxanthin
alkaloids, alphacarotene, betacarotene, flavonoids, lignans, lutein, phenolics, terpenoids, zeaxanthin
alkaloids, betacryptoxanthin, flavonoids, phenols, quinines, rutin, terpenoids
anthocyanin, betacarotene, phenols
Yellow Pear
beta-carotenecaffeic acid, pectin, quercetin, tocopherols
anthocyanin, betacryptoxanthin, lutein
Rutabaga/Swedish Turnip
beta-carotene, indole 3-carbinol, lutein, luteolin
Summer Squash
beta-carotene, betacryptoxanthin, lutein, zeaxanthin
Star Fruit
alkaloids, flavonoids, phenolics, phytofluene
alkaloids, betacarotene, betacryptoxanthin, chlorogenic acid
beta-carotene, lutein, zeaxanthin
Yellow Watermelon
beta-carotene, betacryptoxanthin, lutein, zeaxanthin
Yellow Zucchini
alpha-carotene, beta-carotene, lutein, zeaxanthin
Other Yellow Foods and Their Phytonutrient Compounds
Yellow Bell Pepper
beta-carotene, capsaicinoid, lutein, phenols, zeaxanthin
anthocyanin, betacarotene, flavonoids, phenolic acids
beta-carotene, lutein, zeaxanthin, ferulic acid, caffeic acid, chlorogenic acid
Yellow Potatoes
beta-carotene, lutein, zeaxanthin, flavonoids, phenols, anthocyanin

Ways to incorporate more yellow foods into your diet

  • Add diced yellow bell peppers and corn to your stir-fry.
  • Make honey and lemon tea.
  • Make stove-top popcorn with healthy fats such as olive oil and coconut oil.
  • Roast, bake, or mash yellow (Yukon) potatoes instead of white potatoes.
  • Use bananas to make banana pancakes and bread.
  • Slide some banana into your oatmeal.
  • Blend frozen pineapple, almond milk, and honey or maple syrup to make pineapple sorbet.

Phytonutrients in Green Foods

Dark green, leafy cruciferous vegetables are a good source of sulfur (isocyanate, sulforaphane, glucosinolate). Our body needs sulfur in order to synthesize certain essential proteins. These sulfur compounds break down into isothiocyanates and indoles in the gut, which are known to have antibacterial, antiviral, antifungal, and anti-inflammatory effects. (36, 52, 33)

Research suggests that sulforaphane may support heart health by reducing inflammation and lowering blood pressure. It may also have antidiabetic effects. One study found that sulforaphane reduced fasting blood sugar in patients with type 2 diabetes. (55, 41, 47)

Glucoraphanin, a glucosinolate that’s found in some cruciferous vegetables, has been found to protect the blood–brain barrier in mice with induced experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis (used to study MS, which can’t be induced in the same way), suggesting it may reduce the risk of developing MS. (16, 40)

AIP-Compliant Green Foods and Their Phytonutrient Compounds
cynarin, gallic acid, quercetin, rutin, silymarin
glucosinolates,indole-3-carbinol, lutein, sulforaphane, thiocyanates, zeaxanthin
lycopene, rutin, glutathione, quercetin, caffeicacid, kaempferol, ferulic acid
Bitter Gourd
anthraquinones, beta-carotene, glucosinolates, isoflavones, lutein, phenolic acids, sterol,
Bok Choy
beta-carotene, flavonoids, glucosinolates, kaempferol, lutein
alpha-carotene, betacarotene, glucosinolates, kaempferol, lutein, sulforaphane
Brussel Sprouts
indole-3-carbinol, isoflavonoids, isothiocyanate, kaempferol, lutein, zeaxanthin
beta-carotene, chlorogenic acid,indole-3-carbinol,lutein, sulforaphane, tocophero
beta-carotene, lutein,indole-3-carbinol, isothiocyanates, sulforaphane, zeaxanthin
beta-carotene, lutein, zeaxanthin
Gai Lan/Chinese Broccoli/kale
beta-carotene, carbinol, chlorophyll, indole-3-carbinol, lutein, sulforaphane, zeaxanthin
Honeydew Melon
beta-carotene, caffeicacid, ellagic acid,ferulic acid, gallicacid, kaempferol, lutein, terpenes
glucosinolates, lutein, polysulfides, zeaxanthin
beta-carotene, glucosinolates, indole-3-carbinol, kaempferol, lutein, zeaxanthin
anthocyanin, beta-carotene, beta-cryptoxanthin, flavonoids, lutein
anthocyanin, beta-carotene, glucosinolates, isothiocyanate
allicin, alliin, betacarotene, gallic acid, isothiocyanate, kaempferol, lutein
beta-carotene, chlorophyll, lutein, zeaxanthin
Mustard Greens
glucosinolate, betacarotene, lutein, zeaxanthin, phenolicacids, anthocyanin
beta-carotene, chlorophyll, flavonoids, lutein, phytosterols, zeaxanthin
apigenin, beta-carotene, caffeic acid, citral, dillapiole, elemicin, limonene, luteolin, myristicin
beta-carotenes, lutein, quercetin, zeaxanthin
Swiss Chard
catechin, epicatechin, kaempferol, lutein, myricetin, quercetin, zeaxanthin
beta-carotene, glucosinolates, lutein, zeaxanthin
Other Green Foods and Their Phytonutrient Compounds
apigenin, caffeic acid, chlorogenic acid, chlorophyll, flavonoids, kaempferol
anthocyanin, betacarotene, chloroform, lutein, phytosterols, violaxanthin

Ways to incorporate more green foods into your diet

  • Add chopped spinach and asparagus to an omelet or frittata.
  • Make a green smoothie using a variety of green vegetables and fruits.
  • Make kale chips using green kale.
  • Use basil or any dark green vegetable of your choice to make a pesto sauce.
  • Dip cucumbers in hummus, or celery in peanut butter.
  • Make wraps using lettuce leaves, cabbage leaves, perilla leaves, or Swiss chard.
  • Saute your choice of green vegetables with garlic, lemon, and olive oil.

Phytonutrients in Blue/Purple/Black Foods

Anthocyanins are phytochemicals that give red, blue, and purple plants their vibrant coloring. Anthocyanins have antioxidant properties that may boost heart health and reduce the risk of developing cardiovascular-related and other chronic diseases. (26)

Anthocyanin-rich foods have been linked to reductions in inflammation and reduced blood sugar concentrations, suggesting they may also have antidiabetic effects. Anthocyanins have also been found to protect eye health. One study found that daily supplementation with pharmaceutical anthocyanins improved the visual function of individuals with normal tension glaucoma (where the optic nerve is damaged despite pressure in the eye being normal). (30, 43)

Other phytochemicals called stilbenoids are typically found in grapes and blueberries. Like anthocyanins, stilbenoids have been shown to have a variety of benefits such as protective effects on the heart and brain, as well as antidiabetic, anticancer, and anti-inflammatory properties. (4)

AIP-Compliant Blue/Purple/Black Foods and Their Phytonutrient Compounds
Purple Asparagus
anthocyanin, beta-carotene, ecdysterone, lutein ,zeaxanthin
Purple Basil
anthocyanin, betacarotene, kaempferol, myrcene, phenolicacids, quercetin, rutin, terpinolene
anthocyanin, caffeicacid, chlorogenic acid, kaempferol, myricetin, quercetin, terpenoids
anthocyanin, beta-carotene, lutein, salicylic acid, zeaxanthin
anthocyanin,catechins, ferulic acid, gallic acid, myricetin, phenolic acids, quercetin, stilbenoids
Purple Cabbage
anthocyanin, betacarotene, flavonoids, glucosinolates, indole-3-carbinol, lutein, sulforaphane, zeaxanthin
Purple Cauliflower
anthocyanin,beta-carotene, glucosinolates, iindole-3-carbinol, lutein, sulforaphane, zeaxanthin
Purple Carrots
alpha-carotene, anthocyanin, betacarotene, caffeic acid, chlorogenic acid, lutein, zeaxanthin
Black Currants
anthocyanin, caffeicacid, kaempferol, phenolic acids, lignans, myricetin, quercetin
anthocyanin, flavonoids, polyphenols
anthocyanin, betacarotene, chlorogenicacid, lutein, rutin, zeaxanthin
Purple Grapes
anthocyanin, betacarotene, caffeic acid, catechins, coumaricacid, ellagic acid, ferulicacid, kaempferol, lutein, myricetin, quercetin, stilbenoids, zeaxanthin
Purple kale
anthocyanins, betacarotene, flavonoids, glucosinolates, indole-3-carbinol, lutein, sulforaphane, zeaxanthin
anthocyanin, chlorogenic acid, lutein, phytosterols, sorbitol, terpenoids, zeaxanthin
anthocyanin, ellagicacid, lutein, lycopene, quercetin, zeaxanthin
Other Blue/Purple/Black Foods and Their Phytonutrient Compounds
Chia Seeds
caffeic acid, quercetin, myricetin, phenolic acids, chlorogenic acid
phenolic acids, tocopherols, flavonoids, anthocyanin, phytosterols, phytic acid
anthocyanin, aubergenone, flavonoids, glycoalkaloids, phenolic compounds

Ways to incorporate more blue/purple/black foods into your diet

  • Substitute purple cabbage, carrots, and onions for green cabbage, orange carrots, and white onions.
  • Add blueberries, blackberries, black currants, figs, and plums to yogurt or oatmeal.
  • Have a baked purple sweet potato instead of a white potato, or use them to make sweet potato patties.
  • Make sauerkraut using purple cabbage.
  • Use purple vegetables in salads.
  • Make a cannelloni using eggplant.

Phytonutrientsin White/Tan/Brown Foods

Allicin, a phytochemical produced when garlic is chopped or crushed, has been associated with a lower risk of coronary events in older adults. Research suggests allicin may help reduce LDL and total cholesterol levels when consumed for more than 2 months. (8, 39)

Garlic is well known for its antimicrobial effects and has historically been used to combat infectious diseases. It is also known to be effective against a variety of bacteria, such as Salmonella, Escherichia coli, and Staphylococcus aureus. (8)

Another phytonutrient that is found in many white, tan, and brown foods is quercetin. Quercetin has anti-inflammatory properties and may be effective against obesity, cancer, viruses, allergies, and high blood pressure. (5)

Serum C-reactive protein (CRP) levels are a biomarker of inflammation in the body. High CRP levels are associated with heart disease, obesity, and lupus. One study done in 2008 found that the intake of foods rich in flavonoids, such as quercetin, is associated with lower serum CRP concentrations. (12)

AIP-Compliant White/Tan/Brown Foods and Their Phytonutrient Compounds
beta-carotene, flavonoids, glucosinolates, indole-3-carbinol,lutein, sulforaphane, zeaxanthin
beta-carotene, flavonoids, lutein, phenolic acids, zeaxanthin
Japanese Turnip
anthocyanins, betacarotene, ferulicacid, glucosinolate, lutein, quercetin, violaxanthin
allicin, allin, caffeicacid, ferulic acid, kaempferol, polysulfides, quercetin, triterpenoid
gingerols, paradols, shogaols, terpenes
Lotus Root
catechins, catechol, gallic acid, phenolic acids
anthocyanidins, catechins, malvidin, quercetin, rutin
catechins, gartanin, mangostin, normagostin, rosin, xanthones
beta-glucans, ergosterol, ganoderic acid, lucidenic acid
hydroxytyrosol, oleuropein
allicin, alliin, caffeicacid, ferulic acid, fumaric acid, phytosterols, quercetin, rutin
alkaloids, flavonoids, glycosides, phenols, quercetin, terpenoids
Other White/Tan/Brown Foods and Their Phytonutrient Compounds
catechin, kaempferol, methylquercetin, protocatechuic acid, p-hydroxybenzoic acid, resveratrols, vanillic acid
caffeine, flavonols, quercetin, theobromine
caffeoylquinic acid, gallic acid, kaempferol, myricetin, quercetin
flavonoids, lutein, phenolic acids, tocopherols, zeaxanthin
lignans, phytosterols, sesamin, sesamolin, tocopherols
beta-sitosterol, daidzein, genistein, isoflavone
gallic acid, phenolic acids, phytosterol, proanthocyanidins
Whole Grains
beta-cryptoxanthin, flavonoids, lutein, zeaxanthin
White Potatoes
flavonoids, phenolic acids, beta-carotene, chlorogenic acid
beta-carotene, caffeine, chlorogenic acid, phenolic acids
campesterol, lignans, triterpenes, sitosterol, stigmasterol

Ways to incorporate more white/tan/brown foods into your diet

  • Use dates instead of refined sweeteners to sweeten a dish or drink.
  • Add onions and mushrooms to a stir-fry.
  • Make your own granola or trail mix using whole grains, nuts, and seeds.
  • Stir-fry lotus root with bell peppers and garlic sauce.
  • Add cacao to smoothies, yogurt, or oatmeal.
  • Pickle some Japanese turnip to have as a snack or side dish.

The Bottom Line on Phytonutrients

The thousands of phytochemicals produced by plants for their own protection may also help prevent and treat many of our own medical conditions and diseases. Phytonutrients give fruits, vegetables, grains, nuts, and other plant foods their variety of colors, so “eat the rainbow” to maximize the health benefits offered by these plentiful chemical compounds.


Download a List of Vitamin Food Sources for Thyroid Health

If you prefer to add these vitamins into your life through your diet, take this with you on your next grocery trip.
Download The List