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How does diet affect the health of the gallbladder?

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Rio Grande Cancer Foundation
Rio Grande Cancer Foundation
Rio Grande Cancer Foundation
  Ted Escobedo   4 min read 6 years ago

How does diet affect the health of the gallbladder?

February is Gall Bladder Cancer Awareness Month and a great time to make sure your diet is Gall Bladder Friendly.

Your diet can directly affect the health of your gallbladder due to the key role that the gallbladder plays in digesting foods. Its job is to collect and store bile, and then add that bile to food as it enters the small intestine. The bile helps to break down fats.

This gallbladder diet aims to help reduce the stress that diet has on the gallbladder. These foods help the digestion process which supports the gallbladder.

High plant intake

One of the most important aspects of any balanced diet is to provide the body with a variety of foods in order to get as many different nutrients as possible.

The easy way to do this is to increase the number of different fruits and vegetables eaten regularly. Eating a wide variety of plant foods can help to provide a broad range of nutrients to the body and keep it healthy.

Lean protein

Fats can add stress to the gallbladder and so it is important that proteins in the diet be as lean as possible. White-meat foods, fish, and vegetable proteins are more lean proteins, which may help to relieve excess stress on the gallbladder.


Fiber plays an important role in a healthy digestive system. Fiber in its various forms can help to keep a person feeling full for a longer period of time, feed healthy bacteria in the gut, and add bulk to the stool.

Fiber can also assist the body in toxin removal.

Healthful fats

Polyunsaturated fats such as omega-3 seem to help keep the gallbladder healthy and reduce the risk of gallbladder problems. These fats are commonly found in cold-water fish, nuts such as walnuts, seeds such as flaxseed, and oils from fish or flaxseed.


Healthful coffee consumption also appears to play an important role in keeping the gallbladder working correctly.


A healthy gallbladder is supported by a diet of calcium rich foods such as leafy greens, broccoli, and sardines.

Increasing the levels of calcium in the diet can also support a healthy gallbladder. Calcium is found in dark, leafy greens including kale, sardines, and broccoli.

Dairy products have a lot of calcium as well, but they can also have a very high fat content, mainly from saturated fats. Alternative plants milks that are fortified with calcium, such as almond or flax milk, are higher in healthful fats and lower in saturated fats and may still provide ample calcium.


While heavily drinking can cause problems for the liver, it appears that moderate drinking (that is, around one drink per day) can help to protect the gallbladder from gallstones and other complications.

Vitamin C

People who have higher levels of vitamin C in their blood appear to experience fewer gallbladder problems. Vitamin C is easily obtained by eating a varied diet containing many fruits and vegetables. It can also be found easily as a supplement in most markets, but supplements do not offer the same health benefits as getting the nutrient from food.

Foods to avoid

There are also foods that seem to increase the chances of developing gallbladder disorders such as gallstones. If gallbladder health is a concern, it may help to avoid or limit these foods:

Refined carbohydrates

While carbohydrates make up much of the food that humans eat, refined carbohydrates may increase the risk of gallbladder disorders. Refined carbs include sugars and sweeteners, flour, refined grains, and starches. They are most often found in baked goods including cookies and cakes, as well as in candy, chocolate, soft drinks, and battered and fried foods.

Excessive fats

The bile produced from the gallbladder is important in digesting fats, so eating a fat-heavy diet may force it to work overtime.

Processed foods high in trans fats, hydrogenated oils, fried foods, and excessive saturated animal fats can overwork the gallbladder. A study from 2008 revealed that men with the highest long-chain saturated fat intake, primarily from red meat, were the most at risk for gallstones. Medium-chain fats, found in plant foods such as coconut, did not increase gallstone risk.


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