Health Tips: The Plant Foods Paradox

Your kitchen may be the starting point. Certain raw foods have been found to contain substances that suppress the function of the thyroid gland by interfering with the uptake of iodine, an essential nutrient in growth, cognitive function, and hormonal balance. A lack of functional iodine is known to result in cognitive deficiencies (e.g., Cretinism). The decrease in iodine uptake causes the thyroid gland to enlarge, forming a goiter. Foods that have been identified as goitrogenic include spinach, cassava, sweet potatoes, peanuts, soybeans, strawberries,, peaches, pears, and vegetables in the Brassica genus, which include broccoli, brussels sprouts, cabbage, canola, cauliflower, mustard greens, radishes, and rapeseed. Goiter has also been attributed to the consumption of large quantities of uncooked kale or cabbage.
High temperatures (i.e., cooking) inactivate the goitrogenic substances, collectively termed glucosinolates. Some of these foods require more attention than others, for example, cassava is poisonous unless it is peeled and thoroughly cooked. If it is eaten raw or prepared incorrectly, one of its chemical constituents will be attacked by digestive enzymes and give off the deadly poison cyanide. As little as two cassava roots can contain a fatal dose.

Worthwhile to remember that even what’s considered as health foods may contain harmful substances to our health and hence intake of raw foods should be cautious. In plants, natural toxins are a defensive mechanism against predators, including humans. The good news is that appropriate processing and proper cooking can remove and/or deactivate the toxins in these healthy foods of plant origin to allow us  to harvest the loaded beneficial nutrients for optimum health.

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