Low Iodine Diet for Vegetarians

Last Modified: November 13, 2005

Question:

Dear OncoLink "Ask The Experts,"
I saw your previous response to a low iodine diet. I will be undergoing radioiodine therapy soon and am a vegetarian. Most of my protein comes from dairy (which I won't be able to consume) and Indian lentils/dahls. Is it okay to eat dahls, for example, moong, toor, urad dahl? The packaging says that there is anywhere from 70 to 100 mg of sodium per serving. Some don't have any nutritional info labels on them. If this amount of sodium is too high, what is the best source of protein for a vegetarian?

Answer:

Katrina Claghorn, MS, RD, Registered Dietitian at the Abramson Cancer Center of the University of Pennsylvania, responds:

ThyCa, the Thyroid Cancer Survivor's Association, has a very comprehensive list of "allowed" foods on its website http://www.thyca.org/. They state that the National Institutes of Health recommends avoiding the following beans: red kidney beans, lima beans, navy beans, pinto beans, and cowpeas. I'm not familiar with the types of beans used in the dahls you listed.

Remember, you can not gauge a food's iodine content based on the sodium listed on the label. The purpose of the low iodine diet is to reduce your intake of iodine from food sources, and some foods are naturally high in iodine. You may have been told to avoid processed foods to which salt has been added, because iodized salt may have been used.

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