Fact sheetDiet specifications

Published on 1 Nov 2019

Drug interactions diet - low iodine - patient fact sheet

This document is part of the ACI Diet Specifications for Adult Inpatients. It is not to be used for patient education.

Who needs to follow a low iodine diet?

A low iodine diet is recommended for people who require radioactive iodine treatment. The aim of the diet is to reduce your iodine intake which may help increase your body’s uptake of the radioactive iodine.

What is iodine?

Iodine is a mineral used to make thyroid hormones (which help control metabolism and are involved in normal development).

How much iodine am I allowed on the low iodine diet?

On the low iodine diet you should aim for less than 50 micrograms of iodine per day.

How long should I follow a low iodine diet?

You should follow a low iodine diet for two weeks before your treatment. After your treatment is finished you can return to your normal diet.

Where is iodine found in food?

Foods sourced from the ocean, e.g. fish & seaweed

  • Iodine-fortified foods, e.g. iodised salt and bread
  • Milk and eggs – iodine is added to animal (cow and chicken) feed and is contained within some cleaning agents that may be used by the dairy industry
  • Soy products – can interfere with the uptake of iodine into thyroid cells
  • Food additives derived from sources of iodine (please always check the ingredients list):
    1. number 127 (also known as Erythrosine, Erythrosine Red, Erythrosine cherry red, Red no.3, E127) – a red/pink food colouring and is commonly found in glacé cherries and red-coloured foods
    2. number 401–405 (also known as alginate, E401–E405) – a food thickener and emulsifier and is commonly found in ice-cream, fruit and/vegetable juice, milk beverages
    3. number 406 (also known as agar, thickener 406, vegetable gum 406, E406) – a food thickener and is commonly found in soups, sauces, jams, ice cream, custard/puddings
    4. number 407 (also known as Carrageenan, Carrageenan gum, vegetable gum 407, E407) – a food thickener and is commonly found in jelly and dairy products
  • Some food crops – due to iodine within soil.

Reducing iodine in your diet

Use this table as a guide to reducing the iodine in your diet.

It is not possible to provide a full list of all permitted commercial products; the following are general guidelines only.

Take care to read all product ingredient lists (listed on the product packaging) to look for sources of iodine or iodised salt.

Foods Allowed Foods to avoid
Breads, cereals & crackers

Most plain breakfast cereals, served with allowed milks only (e.g. oats, wheat biscuits, plain rice/wheat/corn based cereals, natural muesli without bran flakes or bran straws)

Plain rice/corn/wheat crackers

Plain rice/corn cakes

Plain crispbreads

All commercial breads and gluten free bread/bread products, such as wraps, rolls, buns, English muffins, crumpets, bagels, brioche

Commercial flat breads and gluten-free flat breads, including pita, naan, Lebanese, roti, focaccia, chapatti, tortilla, pappadums

Fruit bread

Bran cereals

Pancakes, crepes

Starchy vegetables, pasta, rice and grains

Plain potato or sweet potato (steamed, boiled or roasted)

Plain pasta

Canned spaghetti

Steamed rice

Rice noodles



Legume pasta (e.g. red lentil, chickpea, borlotti bean)

Egg noodles

Potato bakes

Pasta bakes

Rice bakes

Vegetables All fresh, frozen, or canned vegetables other than green beans

Green beans (including vegetable mixes containing green beans)


Vegetables with cheese or white sauce

Fruit All fresh, frozen, canned, or dried fruits other than cherries Maraschino cherries (including fruit salad containing cherries)
Meat and protein alternatives

Plain cooked beef, lamb, poultry, bacon

Plain cooked chicken without stuffing

Egg whites

Legumes (e.g. 3 or 4 bean mix, chickpeas, butter beans, lentils, kidney beans, cannellini beans, baked beans

Ham, salami, sausages

Crumbed meats, fish, and poultry

Whole eggs, egg yolks & mayonnaise

Egg-based dishes (e.g. quiche, frittata, omelette)

Soy products (e.g. tofu, textured vegetable protein (TVP))

Seafood None

All fish, shellfish, sushi and seaweed

All dishes/products containing fish sauce, oyster sauce, fish stock and shrimp paste

Dairy and milk alternatives

Rice milk

Almond milk

Oat milk

Coconut milk

Cow/goat/sheep milk including low lactose/lactose free products such as cream, ice-cream, yoghurt, cheese, powdered milk

Soy milk, soy cheese, soy yoghurt, soy ice cream


Tea (all types) and coffee, black or with allowed milk

Juice (limit juice to 300ml/day)

Soft drinks

Wine, beer, spirits in moderation (check with your doctor whether alcohol is allowed)

Milk-containing beverages (e.g. milkshakes, thickshakes, smoothies, hot chocolates, milk teas)
Condiments and oils

Sauces and gravies made without milk or soy ingredients (e.g. mustard, apple sauce)

Tomato and BBQ sauce in small amounts (limit to 1 tablespoon per day)


Margarine without soy ingredients

Jam, honey and Vegemite

Maple syrup

Milk- or cream-based sauce, e.g. white sauce, cheese sauce, Bearnaise, etc.

Butter and clarified butter (ghee)

Soy sauce


Tartare sauce

Nut butters

100% fruit jam



Jelly (if it does not contain Carrageenan/407 or Red 3/Erythrosine/127 – check the ingredients list)

Boiled and jelly lollies

Dark chocolate containing >60% cocoa solids (limit to less than 100g per day

Garlic, pepper, herbs, spices, lemon, vinegar

Muesli bar without chocolate or yoghurt coating

Potato crisps, plain salted

Nuts, plain salted or unsalted


Sugar, artificial sweetener

Iodised salt

Chocolate (milk, white)

Cakes, biscuits and pastries containing milk and/or butter and/or egg


Vitamin/mineral supplements containing iodine


Soy crisps/crackers

Flavoured potato crisps (e.g. salt and vinegar, cheese)

Corn chips (all)

Protein bars or powders containing milk or soy

Nutrition supplement drinks or powders with milk/soy ingredients or added iodine

Why are foods listed on this education sheet different to what I have found on the internet?

The iodine content of soil, feed provided to livestock, and cleaning methods in food production differ around the world. Because of this, it is important that you use information about the iodine content of food which is from the Australian food supply.

Why is bread excluded?

By law in Australia all commercial breads must be made with iodised salt to reduce iodine deficiency in the population. You should not consume commercially manufactured bread while following a low iodine diet. Homemade bread from flour without added iodine is likely to be low in iodine. Please check with the dietitian at the hospital where your radioactive iodine treatment will occur.

Can I have iodised salt? Iodised salt should be avoided on a low iodine diet.

Noniodised salt (e.g. rock salt, table salt or sea salt) is safe to use in small amounts. Be careful when eating out, as restaurants may use iodised salt.

What about dietary supplements?

Some nutrition supplements (e.g. fish oil tablets or vitamin/mineral supplements) are high in iodine. Please check with your doctor a few weeks before your treatment if it is safe for you to continue taking dietary supplements during this time.

Meal suggestions


  • Rolled oats made with allowed milk (see above), topped with grated apple, maple syrup, cinnamon, and nuts
  • Cereal made with allowed milk, topped with banana
  • Baked beans with mushrooms, spinach, tomato, hash brown


  • Rice cakes or plain wheat crackers with salad vegetables, BBQ chicken (without stuffing) or grilled chicken breast and mustard
  • Cold salad, with cucumber, lettuce, tomato, avocado, snow peas and red onion topped with chicken breast, olive oil and vinegar
  • Warm salad, with rice/couscous/quinoa, roasted vegetables (zucchini, capsicum, pumpkin, mushroom) and cashews/almonds and fresh parsley


  • Spaghetti bolognaise (lean mince or lentil & mushroom) with grated zucchini and carrot
  • Grilled meat with potato, broccoli, carrots, and squash/ other vegetables as desired
  • Stir fry with lean meat, rice and frozen vegetable mix
  • Coconut milk curry with chickpeas, mixed vegetables, and potatoes or homemade flat bread
  • Meat and lentil casserole/stew with sweet potato, peas and carrot
  • Risotto (no cheese) with chicken, pine nuts, pumpkin, spinach, and a side of broccolini
  • Roast meat with gravy and roast vegetables


  • Fresh/tinned fruit
  • Vegetable sticks/rice crackers with hummus or salsa
  • Dried fruit and nut/seed mix
  • Popcorn/potato chips
  • Homemade muesli slice or bought muesli bar
  • Dark chocolate containing >60% cocoa solids (limit to less than 100g per day

More information

If you have any questions regarding your low iodine diet, please contact the dietitian at the hospital where your radioactive iodine treatment will occur.

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