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Low Iodine Diet Shopping List – Free Download

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You just found out you need to follow the low iodine diet for radioactive iodine scans and/or treatment.  Before this, you never even knew iodine was in food.  

Then, you find out that iodine is NOT on the nutrition label for foods.  And many ready made foods are high in iodine, so you will need to be cooking more.

What in the world should you buy at the store?  What will you make with those ingredients?  

In this article, we go over the lists of allowed and restricted foods on the low iodine diet, go through some FAQs, provide a shopping list to get you started, and link to recipe ideas to use those ingredients.  

Low Iodine Diet Basics

Here is a simplified outline of foods to enjoy and foods to avoid on the low iodine diet.  For more details, see my post on Low Iodine Diet Basics

Foods Low in Iodine to Enjoy

  • Fresh, frozen, canned, and dried fruits
  • Fresh, frozen, and unsalted canned vegetables
  • Unsalted nuts and nut butters
  • Unsalted canned or dried black, white, and garbanzo beans
  • Fresh meats and poultry
  • Sugar, brown sugar, jelly, honey, maple syrup
  • Egg whites
  • Potatoes (white and sweet) without skins
  • Popcorn
  • Homemade bread/safe bread brands
  • Pasta and rice
  • Coffee and tea
  • Vegetable oil, shortening, and margarine
  • Pepper and other spices and herbs
  • Soda, beer, wine, lemonade
  • Nut and oat milk
  • Homemade salad dressing
  • Dairy free chocolate
  • Hard lemon candies

Foods High in Iodine to Avoid

Many of these are the ingredients you should look for on a food label to avoid.  

  • Iodized Salt
  • Seasoning mixes with salt
  • Seasonings with salt in the name – onion salt, garlic salt, etc.
  • Fish or products from the sea, including seaweed, sea salt, carrageenan, kelp, dulse, agar-agar
  • Dairy products
  • Commercial breads with dough conditioners (iodate, iodide in the ingredients)
  • Vitamin or supplements containing iodine or high iodine ingredients 
  • Soy protein products, including soy beans, tofu, edamame, soy burgers, soy milk.
    • NOTE:  Soy lecithin and soy oil are ok as they do not contain soy protein
  • Egg yolks
  • Food dye red #3
  • Commercial protein shakes or nutrition supplements such as Ensure, Boost, and Glucerna
  • Most restaurant and processed foods
  • Blackstrap molasses
  • Chocolate with dairy
  • Potato skins
  • Rhubarb

Low Iodine Diet FAQs

Iodine in Food?

Iodine is found in food.  In some foods, it is naturally there from the soil,  including plant based foods as well as animal foods (meat) since that animal ate the plants. Iodine can also be added to food as a supplement or via residues from disinfectants on equipment. (1)

How Does My Body Use Iodine?

Iodine is used by the thyroid gland for making thyroid hormones.  Thyroid hormones have MANY functions in your body and can influence every cell in your body.  These include:

  • Effects your metabolism, including how your body burns calories – this affects your weight as well as your energy levels
  • Regulating your heartbeat
  • Regulating body temperature
  • Can affect digestion speed – meaning too much can cause diarrhea, too little constipation

Why do I Need a Low Iodine Diet?

A low iodine diet (LID) is used before radioactive iodine treatment to make the body “iodine hungry”. (1) The basic idea is if you deprive your body of iodine, any remaining thyroid cells (specifically thyroid cancer cells) will be very hungry and aggressively take up the radioactive iodine when you receive treatment.  This should make the treatment more effective.

How do I know if Iodine is in a Food?

There is not really a great way to know the iodine content of food.  Iodine is not required on nutrition labels and is not regularly measured in whole foods.

Most processed foods in the United States do NOT contain iodized salt.  However, manufacturers are NOT required to state on the label if they use iodized salt or not.  LIDLife has extensive lists of manufacturers they have contacted about what salt they use.

I have contacted some manufacturers, including for any items on this list.  However, please note that a manufacturer stating they use non iodized salt DOES NOT mean all of their products are safe.  They may contain other ingredients.

For example, Sara Lee Breads use non iodized salt.  But, many of their products use iodate based dough conditioner, so you still cannot have many of their products. 

Any other foods I should avoid? 

While you need to avoid foods high in iodine, you also need to avoid foods that could interfere with your body’s ability to take up the radioactive iodine. Soy products and cruciferous vegetables (spinach, broccoli) may decrease your body’s ability to absorb iodine. (2) (1) So avoid soy bean products (soy oil and lecithin are ok), and try to not over do the spinach and broccoli. 

Low Iodine Diet Shopping List

bag of groceries with pad of paper and pen to make a list

Here is a Low Iodine Diet shopping list, broken into categories.  If you are looking for a way to use these ingredients, check out my Simplified Low Iodine Diet Toolkit

Fruits 

  • Lemons
  • Limes
  • Oranges
  • Pineapple
  • Strawberries
  • Apples
  • Bananas
  • Frozen berries
  • Grapes
  • Applesauce
  • Raisins
  • Melons

Veggies

  • Baby spinach
  • Tomatoes
  • Cilantro
  • Garlic
  • Onion
  • Bell pepper
  • Lettuce
  • Potatoes
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Green Beans
  • Ginger
  • Radishes
  • Zucchini
  • Broccoli
  • Brussels sprouts
  • Mushrooms

Cold/Dairy Alternatives

  • Liquid egg whites
  • Elmhurst oat milk or almond milk
  • Orange juice
  • Forager Project Cashew Yogurt
  • So Delicious Coconut Yogurt
  • Kite Hill Dips
  • Sabra Hummus
  • Wholly Guacamole
  • Earth Balance Buttery Soy Free Spread

Bread/Baking/Grains

  • Plain oats
  • Quaker Instant Oatmeal Packets
  • Mission Flour Tortillas
  • Thomas Bagels
  • Nature’s Own 100% Whole Wheat Bread
  • Matzo Crackers
  • Pasta
  • Basmati Rice
  • Qunioa
  • Jell-O
  • Dairy free chocolate chips (Enjoy life or Nestle Toll House Allergen Free)
  • Brown sugar
  • Honey
  • Nutritional Yeast (cheese substitute)

Meat

  • Fresh chicken
  • Fresh beef
  • Fresh pork
  • Fresh turkey

Boxed/Canned

  • No salt added black beans
  • No salt added garbanzo beans/chickpeas
  • No salt added canned diced tomatoes
  • No salt added canned tomato sauce
  • Herbox Sodium Free Chicken/Vegetable/Beef broth or bouillon cubes
  • Coconut milk
  • Jam/jelly
  • Tahini
  • Unsalted nut butter 

Spices/Condiments

  • Kosher or plain salt
  • McCormick’s taco seasoning
  • Black Pepper
  • Balsamic vinegar
  • French’s mustard
  • Olive or canola oil

Snacks/Sweets

  • Popcorn kernels
  • Power Up Trail Mixes
  • Oreos
  • Gummy Bears
  • Swedish Fish
  • Junior Mints
  • Enjoy Life chewy bars and protein bites 
  • Sugar free lemon drops (for after RAI)

Low Iodine Recipe Ideas

Need some ideas for what to cook on your low iodine diet?  My Simplified Low Iodine Diet Toolkit has 3 weeks of meal plans complete with recipes and grocery lists.  

For recipes on the blog, try these:

Would you like a free printable of this shopping list as well as a blank list to fill in for yourself?  Enter your email below and it will be delivered to your inbox!

22 thoughts on “Low Iodine Diet Shopping List – Free Download”

  1. Hello I am recovering from an aggressive thyroid cancer I am currently on the low iodine diet do you have any suggestion for canned foods snacks that I could buy thank you in advance

  2. Are home made pinto beans with no salt okay for LID? Have seen both No and Yes answers on different websites. Confused. First test in two weeks and don’t want to blow the results.
    Thanks for all the wonderful information. Really helped at the market!

  3. Help! As you said when the label says sodium amounts, the concern is whether they use iodized salt in the ingredients. I am trying very hard to follow a low iodine diet prior to RAI therapy on the 23rd of May. I bought unsalted peanut butter and as one of the reviewers on amazon stated, there was enough oil at the top of the jar to lubricate an engine. I pitched it; thought it was bad. I checked the ingredients on the jiffy crunchy peanut butter and it says sodium content is 110 mg (based on a 2 tablespoon serving). The cereal product I thought would be okay is Post Great Grains at 140 mg sodium; much lesser sodium count than the Nature’s Own or Thomas English muffins being okay per my medical team. Will either the peanut butter in limited amounts or the cereal (1 oz. milk allowed per day) impede the RAI therapy success. thank you.

    1. So the amount of sodium isn’t the problem. It’s whether they used iodized salt or if there are other ingredients in there. The unsalted peanut butter has oil at the top just b/c it doesn’t have emulsifiers in it to keep it mixed in. You just mix it in and it is fine. I’m not sure on the great grains cereal – 1 oz per milk wouldn’t be enough for me to eat cereal.

  4. I am prepping for an upcoming Radioactive Iodine treatment (after a full thyroidectomy from cancer) and starting my LID. I had read that Thomas Plain English Muffins were okay for LID diet, but you are you saying the plain bagels are? Also… and this has been much harder than I imagined trying to make sense of what I can eat or not, but the Nature’s Own 100% Whole Wheat Bread has on the label that it has Sodium 170 mg per serving. Is it still okay? I just don’t understand what I see “salt” or “sodium” if I can eat it. Ugh. Thank you!!!

  5. I am also on the ketogenic diet. Many of the allowed LID foods are foods I do not eat. So I’ve been looking for recipes that are both KETO friendly and LID safe…. any suggestions? Is almond flour and coconut flour allowed on LID?

  6. I want to quadruple check,
    Cause I love Thomas bagels. Is this all flavors or just plain?
    I can’t believe it’s low iodine, I’m scared to have hope that it is. (Would save me immensely)

  7. I am also gluten free, is there any flour I can use while on the low iodine diet? You have listed flour torillas but now corn torillas, is corn not okay? Also, I see that pears, carrots and celery are not on the list, wondering why?

    Thank you so much!

  8. This is my third time (and probably not the last) on the low iodine diet. You have given me information that will make the diet more palatable. Thank you!

  9. This was very helpful, more so than what the Dr. Gave my husband, who is doing the treatment for Thyroid Cancer…thank yoi

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