There's Evidence This Fish May Help If You Have Hypothyroidism

Hypothyroidism, or underactive thyroid, can make it difficult to maintain your weight. In the long run, it may lead to joint pain, muscle aches, depression, weight gain, and cardiovascular problems, according to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. These symptoms develop gradually and may worsen if the disease is not treated.

This condition occurs when the thyroid gland doesn't produce enough of certain hormones. Doctors typically prescribe levothyroxine to replace the missing hormones and prevent complications. What you eat matters, too — a balanced diet can help improve thyroid function and make it easier to keep the pounds off. "Eating more whole or minimally processed foods and cutting back on added sugars and heavily refined grains will help you feel more energetic," said registered dietician Samantha Cassetty in an interview with Today.

While there's no such thing as a hypothyroidism diet, some foods are better than others for people living with this condition. For example, vegetables may help reduce weight gain and boost metabolic health (via the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health). The same goes for meat, fish, and other foods high in zinc and selenium, two minerals that support thyroid function. However, there's one type of fish that may reduce inflammation and other symptoms of hypothyroidism.

Eat this fish for thyroid health

Recent research indicates that fatty fish, such as salmon, mackerel, and tuna, may help improve thyroid health. This effect is due to omega-3s, a group of polyunsaturated fatty acids with antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. For example, a 2014 study published in Acta Physiologica Hungarica suggests that omega-3s may prevent hypothyroidism-induced memory deficits. Moreover, these nutrients protect against diabetes, cardiovascular problems, and other conditions associated with thyroid disease (per Today's Dietician).

A diet rich in fatty fish won't reverse hypothyroidism, but it can prevent complications. "Omega-3s are known to decrease inflammation, help with immunity, and lower the risk for heart disease," registered dietician Virginia Turner told Everyday Health. She also points out that fish boasts large doses of selenium, a mineral that fights inflammation. Dr. John C. Lowe, a specialist in fibromyalgia and thyroid disease treatment, notes that omega-3s may reduce depression and improve brain function (via Thyroid Patient Advocacy).

All in all, these healthy fats can make your symptoms more manageable. To reap the benefits, aim for about 8 ounces of fish and seafood per week (per The Dietary Guidelines for Americans). If you're a vegan or vegetarian, fill up on seaweed, chlorella, hemp seeds, flaxseeds, walnuts, and other plant-based sources of omega-3 fatty acids. You may also take a daily fish oil supplement to get more omega-3s in your diet, according to Dr. Lowe.