Low Iodine Diet

Low Iodine Diet Preparation for Radioactive Iodine

Key points

• This is a low-iodine diet, not a no-iodine diet or an iodine-free diet.

• Remain on this diet for two weeks (7-14 days) before you have a radioactive iodine scan or a radioactive iodine treatment.

• It is important to continue all of your current medications as directed by your doctor, even if the medication contains small amounts of iodine.

• You may eat foods that are low in iodine (up to 5 mcg per serving); limit your intake of foods that have a moderate level of iodine (5 to 20 mcg per serving); and avoid foods high in iodine (over 20 mcg per serving).

• Read the ingredients listed on packaged food labels. Consider using this low iodine cookbook.

Additional Guidelines

Because some restaurants use iodized salt and there is no way to determine which do, avoid all restaurant food. You may eat foods that contain small amounts of milk or egg. You may use non-iodized salt. Consult your doctor before discontinuing any red-colored medication. For additional information and a free copy of a low-iodine cookbook, visit the Thyroid Cancer Survivor’s Association website at www.thyca.org.

Ingredients to AVOID:

• Iodized salt, sea salt

• Eggs

• Chocolate

• Molasses

• Dairy products including milk, ice cream, cheese and yogurt

• Breads made with iodate dough conditioners

• All seafood, including shellfish, kelp and seaweed

• Foods and medications containing red food dye #3

• Foods that contain the following additives: carrageen, agar-agar, algin and alginites

• Cured and/or corned foods, such as ham, lox, corned beef and sauerkraut

• Rhubarb

• Soy products

• Potato skins. The inside of the potato is fine.

• Iodine-containing multivitamins and food supplements

Allowed Foods and Ingredients:

• Fruits and fruit juice (except rhubarb and maraschino cherries with red dye #3)

• Vegetables - raw or frozen without salt, except beans

• Fresh meats up to 6 ounces a day

• Egg whites

• Grain and cereal products up to four servings per day, provided they have no high-iodine ingredients

• Pasta, provided it has no high-iodine ingredients

• Sugar, jelly, jam, honey, maple syrup

• Unsalted nuts

• Unsalted popcorn

• Unsalted matzo crackers and other unsalted crackers

• Homemade low-iodine bread or muffins

• Unsalted peanut butter or other nut butters (great with apple slices, carrot sticks, unsalted crackers, and unsalted rice cakes)

• Applesauce

• Black pepper, fresh or dried herbs and spices

• All vegetable oils, including soy oil

• Regular and diet sodas (except with red dye #3) , non-instant coffee, non-instant tea, alcoholic beverages, lemonade

Sample Meals Breakfast

Orange juice

Hot cereal

Whole wheat toast with margarine



Turkey sandwich

Lettuce and tomato

Italian salad dressing

Graham crackers

Fresh apple

Iced tea


Piece of beef

Mushroom sauce

Green beans with margarine

Small dinner roll

Lemon sherbet

Ice tea