How To Eat for Your Thyroid Part 1: PUFA's

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  • By Susan "The Wife" Bartley
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How To Eat for Your Thyroid  Part 1: PUFA's

My last few articles have been all about the symptoms of low thyroid, estrogen dominance and low progesterone.  Hopefully, you are now on the road to figuring out if you are dealing with any of these issues.  It can seem depressing at first and a little overwhelming. This article is going to be a little ray of sunshine because now we are going to start talking about concrete things that you can do to begin reversing the symptoms of each of these issues.  I am going to begin with all of the dietary changes you can start making that will positively impact your thyroid, which in turn will start to impact your estrogen and progesterone.   This may turn into several articles because there is A LOT you can do.


When prioritizing this information I really, really wanted to start with a list of all the foods you could ADD to your diet that would support your thyroid.  That seems so much more positive a way to begin this discussion.  If I said “you can eat cheese” wouldn’t you be happy?  Well, I will say that, but it will come later.  The only real way to start the conversation on dietary changes is to get the hardest one out of the way.  So here it goes.


Let’s talk about PUFA’s


Poly-Unsaturated Fatty Acids (PUFA’s) are the devil and the devil is EVERYWHERE. 


PUFA’a are most vegetable oils: corn oil, safflower oil, canola oil, grapeseed oil, sunflower oil, cottonseed oil basically any oil that is a liquid at room temperature.  Oh yeah, and margarine. Margarine is the devil.  Olive oil is not considered a PUFA and is somewhat safe, but it still has about 10% PUFA’s and should there fore be limited to about 1 tablespoon a day.


In the 1960’s there was a rise in heart disease which led to the government and health authorities to declare that saturated fats like butter were bad.  Saturated fats caused heart disease (or so we were told) and so everyone turned to liquid fats like corn oil. I am not going to go to far down the rabbit hole here, but if you do your research you might just find a correlation between corn sales, government subsidies and other nefarious money making schemes as the back drop for this public outcry against saturated fat.  At that point we were sold a bill of goods that these unsaturated fats were going to be our savior and turn around the heart disease crisis.  Guess what?  Studies did show that PUFA’s helped lower cholesterol BUT despite that studies also showed that there was an increase in heart related deaths, cancers and other health issues associated with the oils.  And yet, today PUFA’s are found in literally EVERYTHING pre-packaged and pre-prepared at the grocery store.  Plus, we all cook with them, bake with them, make salad dressings with them. So much of what we eat on a daily basis contains these oils and they are, quite literally, killing us.


Years ago, Fitness guru Jack Lalanne said “If man made it don’t eat it” and I have to say that after learning about PUFA’s I am all in.  I challenge you to go to your pantry now and find something that does not have PUFA’s listed as one of the main ingredients. (let me know if you do).  Go to Whole Foods, the mecca of holistic grocery shopping and ALL of their prepared foods are made with PUFA’s.  I was overwhelmed with the amounts that I was eating when I started this journey, and I couldn’t begin to see how I could cut them all out.


Wait, I still haven’t told you what they are.  Poly Unsaturated Fats are the Devil.  Oh, I said that.  Okay, well here is the science.  PUFA’s are fats that are chemically unstable meaning that they breakdown and become toxic to your body very easily.  Most all of the ways we use PUFA’s cause them to break down: cooking them at high heat (frying), exposing them to oxygen, sitting them on a shelf in the supermarket under fluorescent lights all of these cause the oils to become toxic. Oxidized, or broken down PUFA’s cause inflammation in your body.  Chronic inflammation (from a diet high in PUFA’s) is the leading cause of diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, autoimmune diseases, some cancers, fatty liver disease, mental health challenges and many other issues.  These oils are also thyroid toxic so if you are eating them in high quantities then you are not helping out your thyroid.


Depending on what resource you get your information from there is also a debate on how healthy Omega-3 oils like fish oil are to your body.  Many people taut the benefits of these oils as anti-inflammatory and beneficial for your brain.  Ray Peat disagrees and says taking Omega-3 is just as unhealthy as the PUFA’s and Omega-6 oils.  I am not going to enter this debate because I know it will bring tons of people down on my head.  Personally, I have cut out supplementing with Omega-3’s.  There are some studies and science that have led me to cut them out.  On the whole, the first place to start when trying to cut down on these oils is with the seed oils, margarine and Crisco.  Start there and once you win that race then you can tackle the Omega-3’s.


How do you tackle PUFA’s


This is the hardest part, I am not going to lie.  It is a little easier when you see all the good food that you can eat to help your thyroid.  That sort of balances things out.  But we aren’t quite there yet.  For now, just begin to be aware of what you are eating that contains PUFA’s.  Cut out what you can.  It will be overwhelming because as I said they are in every processed food you buy.  Once I finish going through all of the dietary changes I will post a sample diet that I put together, so you can see how it all works, but for now lets just become more aware of where PUFA’s hide in our diet and start cutting them out. 


One big thing I did when I started down this road was I just stopped getting snacks at the gas stations when I was starving.  My norm was to stop at least twice a week and get a crunchy granola bar.  I LOVE crunchy granola bars and they served to give me decent carbs and good taste in the afternoon if I was low on carbs for the day.  I cut this out altogether.  It seems like a small thing, but it was HUGE for me.  I cut out one piece of convenience and had to substitute something else.  Now, if I am in a pinch and need a snack I get an orange juice or a small container of milk.  Both are good for the thyroid and they get me through until I can get a meal in me.




The dietary part can be hard so if you have any questions feel free to shoot me an email at [email protected].  I will help out in any way that I can.



  1. Anna N Anna N

    Love this! I recently learned that I have hypothyroidism. Such a relief after years of trying to tell doctors that something wasn't right. I've shared your blog with my FB group that focuses on living healthily, as many of my friends in the group deal with thyroid issues.

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