Low-iodine diet and recipes

The purpose of following the low-iodine diet (LID) is to reduce the amount of iodine in the rest of your body significantly before the radioactive iodine (RAI) treatment, to help the RAI to be absorbed better by any remaining thyroid tissue. The diet is only for a short period before the treatment; doctors usually recommend following the diet for two weeks (14 days) before patients go into hospital for the RAI.

The diet is a low-iodine diet and not an iodine-free diet or a low- or no-salt diet. Salt in the UK is not iodised, unlike the USA, Canada and countries in Europe where the salt is generally iodised. Hence the LIDs in the USA, Canada and parts of Europe are much stricter, as iodised salt is used in the manufacture of food products such as bread, meat products and some dairy products. Patients are advised therefore not to follow the LIDs used in other countries.

The UK Low Iodine Diet Working Group has prepared a LID patient information sheet based on a traffic light format that shows easily the products allowed and those to be avoided. For the benefit of any patients with red/green blindness it is still in a format in which the different groups can be easily identified.

LID patient information sheet

Patient feedback about the LID is always welcome. Please complete and return the questionnaire which will help improve the recommendations for future patients. 

Suggested Recipes


Fruit smoothie

Can use supermarket bought Smoothies which consist solely of fruit. Buy Innocent or supermarket own brands.

Blueberry muffins

4 fl oz/125ml/½ cup vegetable oil
4 oz/125g/½ cup sugar
3 egg whites
8 oz/500g/2 cups white flour
3 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon non iodised salt
4 oz/125g blueberries – canned or fresh

Beat the sugar and oil, whipping in the egg whites. Stir in the rest very lightly. Add the blueberries last by folding them into the mixture. Line a muffin tin with paper cups, or grease lightly. Bake at 200 degrees Celsius for around 15 minutes or until spongy and firm to the touch. Makes 12 muffins.

Scotch pancakes

2 egg whites
2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla essence
8 oz/250g flour (plain/whole wheat)
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon vegetable oil
4 fl oz/125ml water

Beat the two egg whites with the sugar, then add the vanilla and stir in the rest of the ingredients. Lastly add the water to get the desired batter consistency for your pancakes. Spoon about one tablespoon of batter onto greased non-stick frying pan. The batter should make about 8-10 scotch pancakes. Any left can be frozen and cooked in the toaster. Serve hot with jam, honey or maple syrup.


Chicken salsa

2 oz/60g of diced chicken
1 medium chopped tomato
Half red onion chopped
Diced avocado
Chopped green peppers
½ teaspoon olive oil
Pepper and chilli (optional) to taste

Mix all the ingredients together in a bowl. Serve in a baked potato or in a tortilla wrap.


Beef curry

2 lbs/1 kg cubed stewing meat
3 medium potatoes, quartered
1 red pepper chopped
1 large onion, chopped finely
1 teaspoon garlic, chopped finely
2 tablespoons garam masala (Indian spice)
2 tablespoons curry powder
1 cup water
Non-iodised salt to taste

Fry onion and garlic for one minute in 1 tablespoon of cooking oil. Add the cubed meat and potatoes and fry until meat is browned, mixing well. Sprinkle the garam masala over the meat mixture. Stir well and fry for about 2 minutes. Add the curry powder and keep stirring until mixture starts sticking to bottom of pan; then add about 1 cup of water. Add salt to taste, cover, and cook until meat is done and mixture thickens a little for around 20 minutes. Serve with basmati rice.

This recipe can also be made with cubed chicken breasts.

Basil pesto pasta

4 cloves garlic
6 tablespoons pine nuts
1 large handful fresh basil
6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

Throw ingredients into blender, blend them, and then toss them into fresh pasta.

Baked vegetable pasta

3 oz/80g penne pasta
1 teaspoon olive oil
Half a medium red onion chopped
Chopped red and green peppers, half a cup
Half a courgette, chopped
6 button mushrooms - sliced
½ teaspoon balsamic vinegar

Pasta sauce

Fry the onions in a large pan until soft, then add the rest of the vegetable ingredients. Fry for around 4 minutes then add the balsamic vinegar. Let this sweat for about 2 mins then add the pasta sauce and cook for further 5 minutes. Finally add the chopped basil. Add the cooked pasta. Put in a baking dish and cook in the oven at 180 degrees Celsius for 20 minutes.

Roasted vegetables

Cherry tomatoes
Sliced green, red and yellow peppers
Medium red onion chopped into quarters
2 large mushrooms cut in half
Olive oil
Splash of balsamic vinegar
¼ cup chopped fresh basil or 1 tablespoon dried basil

Put all the ingredients into a baking dish, drizzle with the olive and add the balsamic vinegar. Roast in oven at 200 degrees Celsius for 30 minutes.

Chicken chasseur

3 tablespoons vegetable oil
6 chicken breast halves without skin
2 shallots - finely chopped
8 oz/250g mushrooms - quartered
1 clove garlic - crushed
2 large tomatoes - peeled, seeded, chopped
½ teaspoon tarragon
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon black pepper
½ cup dry white wine
½ cup chicken stock - homemade.
1 tablespoon cornflour dissolved in 2 tablespoons water

In a large frying pan, heat oil over medium heat. Add chicken and cook, turning until brown all over - about 10 minutes. Remove and set aside. Add shallots to pan drippings. Cook 1 minute to soften. Add mushrooms; cook until lightly browned - about 3 minutes. Add garlic, tomatoes, tarragon, salt, and pepper. Simmer for 5 minutes. Add wine and beef broth. Return chicken to pan, cover and cook over low heat until tender- about 20 minutes. Remove chicken. Stir dissolved cornflour into sauce. Bring to the boil and cook, stirring until thickened - about 1-2 minutes. Return chicken to pan and turn to coat with sauce. Serve with sauté potatoes and green vegetables.


Moroccan soup

2-3 cups cooked kidney beans
1 cup brown lentils, washed and picked over
½ to 1 cup long grain rice, washed, such as basmati
1-2 large onions, chopped - save some for the garnish
2 carrots, sliced
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 teaspoon turmeric
2 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon cinnamon
2-3 shakes cayenne
½ teaspoon salt
2 16 oz cans salt-free tomatoes, drained
2 heaped tablespoons salt-free tomato paste
½ bunch flat leaf parsley, chopped
4-6 cups vegetable or chicken stock Or
2-3 cups dry white wine
And 2-3 cups water
2-4 tablespoons olive oil

Sauté the onions in the olive oil over medium flame until soft, about 5 minutes. Add the carrots and garlic. Stir well and add more oil if needed. Add dry spices, turn down heat, and stir constantly to be sure not to burn spices. Cook for 3 or 4 more minutes until spices lose their raw aroma. Add kidney beans and stock or wine/water to cover. Bring to a boil, cover and simmer for 30 minutes. Add lentils, rice, tomatoes and tomato paste. Check liquid level to be sure to have an inch of liquid over the beans. Bring to a boil and simmer for another 30 min. Add parsley and check for seasonings – salt and cayenne. You might want to add some sweet red pepper if you want to boost the vegetables.

Roasted vegetable soup

6 beefsteak tomatoes, halved and cored
2 leeks, white and green parts cut in one-inch pieces
2 carrots, sliced
4 garlic cloves
2 tablespoons olive oil
Salt and pepper, to taste
3 cups chicken broth
¼ cup fresh basil, chopped or 2 tablespoons dried basil

Toss all vegetables and seasonings in a roasting pan. Drizzle with olive oil. Bake in a single layer at 200 degrees Celsius until cooked (about an hour). Using tongs peel off tomato skins and discard. In a saucepan, heat the broth and vegetables. Simmer for 10 minutes. Purée in batches in the blender. Stir in basil.

Minestrone Soup

3 tablespoons olive oil
3 garlic cloves, chopped
2 onions, chopped
2 cups chopped celery
5 carrots, sliced
4 cups water
4 cups tomato sauce
1 cup white beans (cooked)
15 oz/375g green beans (fresh or frozen beans, cooked)
1 teaspoon dried oregano
2 teaspoons dried basil
½ teaspoon non-iodised salt and pepper
Half a cup of small pasta

Sauté garlic and onion in large stock pot for about 8 minutes. Add celery and carrots and cook for a further 4 minutes. Add water and tomato sauce and bring to boil, stirring frequently. Reduce heat and add white beans, green beans and spices. Simmer 30-40 minutes. Cook pasta and drain. Add to soup. Freeze into smaller portions for easy reheating.