Low Iodine Diet

Why a Low-Iodine Diet?

Thyroid cells in your body absorb iodine, which is contained in many foods. Your doctor may ask you to avoid certain foods and medicines that contain iodine for a few weeks before your ablation procedure, Tg testing or whole body scan (WBS). Doing so will deplete your body of its natural storage of iodine, allowing any remaining thyroid cells to better absorb the radioactive iodine given to you before these procedures. Be sure to let your doctor know if you've had CAT scans, angiograms, pyelograms, stent placements or any other x-ray procedures in the month before your test since some x-ray exams use iodine-containing chemicals that could interfere with your scan.1

Low-Iodine Cooking

Being on a low iodine diet can be challenging. However, there are several cookbooks available to help you select and prepare healthy, low iodine meals before your testing if your doctor thinks this is important for your care. Visit the following links for low-iodine meal-planning suggestions:

  • Light of Life Foundation: Low Iodine Cookbook
  • National Institutes of Health: Preparing to Receive Radioactive Iodine: The Low-Iodine Diet
  • Thyroid Cancer Survivor’s Association: Low-Iodine Diet & Cookbook
  • Your Health Press: The Low Iodine Diet Cookbook

Foods to avoid that contain iodine2

  • Iodized salt and sea salt
  • All dairy products (milk, sour cream, cheese, cream, yogurt, butter, ice cream)
  • Margarine
  • Egg yolks
  • Seafood (fish, shellfish, seaweed, kelp)
  • Foods that contain carrageen, agar-agar, align, or alginate (all of these are made from seaweed)
  • Cured and corned foods (ham, bacon, sausage, corned beef, tuna, etc.)
  • Marinated chicken or turkey
  • Dried fruit
  • Canned vegetables
  • Bread products that contain iodate dough conditioners
  • Chocolate
  • Molasses
  • Soy products (soy sauce, soy milk, tofu)
  • Foods that contain FD&C Red Dye #3

Foods you can eat2

  • Kosher salt
  • Egg whites
  • Fresh non-cured meat from the butcher
  • Fresh fruits and vegetables, washed well (limit bananas, spinach, and broccoli)
  • Frozen vegetables with no added salt
  • Canned peaches, pears and pineapples
  • Matza/ Matzah/ Matzo (Homemade bread made from non-iodized salt and oil (not soy) instead of butter or milk)
  • Natural unsalted peanut butter
  • Clear sodas
  • Coffee or tea made with distilled water (with non-dairy creamer only)
  • Popcorn popped in vegetable oil or air popped, with non-iodized salt
  • Sorbet (without FD&C red dye #3)

Please note: A low-iodine diet does not restrict sodium or salt. It only restricts iodized salt or sea salt. Any salt that is labeled non-iodized may be used freely.

Other tips: You may want to shop and freeze or store your ingredients before starting your diet to avoid being tempted by iodine-containing foods at the store.