The effect of food groups and nutrients on thyroid hormone levels in healthy individuals

Dubravka Brdar, Ivana Gunjača, Nikolina Pleić, Vesela Torlak, Petra Knežević, Ante Punda, Ozren Polašek, Caroline Hayward, Tatijana Zemunik*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objectives: The aim of the study was to analyze the association of dietary groups (groups of food items) with thyroid hormone levels in healthy individuals. Methods: This cross-sectional study enrolled 4585 healthy individuals from the Dalmatian region of south Croatia with measurements of plasma free triiodothyronine (fT3), free thyroxine (fT4), and thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH) levels. Dietary intake was assessed according to data of the completed food frequency questionnaire, containing 58 food items. Principal component analysis was performed to reduce food items into dietary groups, followed by linear regression analyses to test the association between dietary groups and fT3, fT4, and TSH levels. Results: Among the 4585 healthy individuals, we observed lower plasma fT3 and fT4 levels and higher TSH levels in women than in men. Smokers were found to have significantly lower TSH levels than non-smokers and ex-smokers, and participants with higher fasting glucose levels had higher fT4 levels. Different dietary groups (factors) showed association with fT3, fT4, and TSH levels. It was observed that dietary factors (with frequent consumption of fruit juices, Cedevita vitamin drink, and non-alcoholic drinks) that negatively affected TSH levels simultaneously had a positive effect on fT4, satisfying the expected pattern of effects. Conclusions: In our study, frequent consumption of foods with a high glycemic index showed a positive association with fT3 and fT4 levels and a negative association with TSH levels, whereas foods rich in saturated fatty acids and with a high protein concentration showed a negative association with fT3 and fT4 levels.

Original languageEnglish
Article number111394
Early online date20 Jun 2021
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2021


  • Diet
  • fT3
  • fT4
  • Nutrition
  • TSH


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