Gallstone Diet: 11 Foods to Keep an Eye On

According to the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI), up to 25 million Americans have gallstones. Gallstones are hard, stone-like bodies formed by bile and cholesterol. As they accumulate in the gallbladder, they become increasingly larger, ranging in size from a grain of sand all the way up to a golf ball.

One of the best ways to manage gallstones is to prevent them with a healthy diet, so we’ve created a gallbladder foods to avoid list.

Let’s take a look at the best foods to add to a healthy gallbladder stones diet!

1. Fresh Fruits

Fresh fruits are good for your health all around. They’re packed with vitamins and antioxidants that help you stay healthy. If you were concerned about gallstones, they’re also great for this condition, too.

Here are some fruits to consider:

  • Apples
  • Watermelons
  • Frozen fruit smoothies with no added sugar
  • Dried fruit as a sweet treat

This next food group is one not to miss either…

2. Fresh Veggies

Individuals looking to lower their risk of gallstones should turn to fresh vegetables. Vegetables contain very little sugar, fat, and salt.

Here are a few ways you can add fresh vegetables to your existing meal plan:

  • Add a side salad to your meals
  • Leafy greens like spinach make great additions to smoothies
  • Veggies are the perfect topping; try adding them to sandwiches, pasta, and pizza

Thinking about foods to avoid with gallbladder problems? Well, you won’t have to omit this next food from your diet!

3. Fish

It can be very difficult to incorporate meat into a gallstone diet. Why? Because many meat dishes are high in both cholesterol and fat. But, there is one exception to this general rule: seafood.

Fish is naturally low in cholesterol and fat. These qualities make fish a great choice for people looking to keep meat in their diet while still lowering the risk of gallstones.

An important factor to keep in mind is that different preparation methods can add a lot of cholesterol and fat to fish. That means you want to avoid fish that has been deep-fried. Outside of that, many different types of fish are great dietary choices for people concerned about gallstones, including:

  • Tuna
  • Canned sardines
  • Seafood such as muscles and crab

This next food item might surprise you…

4. Coffee

Some research suggests coffee that contains caffeine can help reduce the chance of developing gallstones. One important note: it’s the caffeine that lowers the odds of forming gallstones. Caffeine causes increased contractions in the gallbladder as well as helping with bile production. Both of these actions combined help your gallbladder process cholesterol more efficiently and therefore have a lower chance of forming gallstones.

These foods have been great for fighting gallstones. The following, however, should be on your gallstones foods to avoid list…

5. Fried Foods

Fried foods are universally bad for individuals with gallstones, due to their high amount of fat and cholesterol, which can both aggravate gallstones.

An alternative? Try other preparation methods, such as baked french fries rather than deep-fried ones. Outside of such measures, though, fried foods should be avoided altogether.

Yet another food to avoid? Keep reading…

6. Processed Foods

Processed foods tend to be high in salt and fat. Furthermore, because processed foods undergo many different chemical treatments, they also contain a variety of ingredients that can aggravate gallstones.

When in doubt, always look at the label. As a general rule of thumb, it’s good to avoid processed foods altogether. These kinds of foods include:

  • Doughnuts
  • Packaged foods, such as potato chips and cheese snacks
  • Pre-packaged desserts

This next beverage should also be avoided if you’re worried about gallstones…

7. Whole Milk

Whole milk can aggravate gallstones, due to high amounts of cholesterol and fat, so people struggling with this condition might be better off sticking with other dairy products. Reducing or eliminating whole milk from your diet includes whole milk in beverages as well as finding which products contain whole milk as an ingredient. 

Some whole milk foods to avoid include:

  • Whole milk
  • Cheese
  • Fatty yogurts and other fermented whole milk products
  • Clotted, whipped, and other whole milk-based creams

This next food to avoid might be difficult for meat eaters…

8. Red Meat

Fatty red meats are loaded with cholesterol. So, taking them out of your diet can mean a lower risk of these stones. However, quitting cold turkey can be tough. So, it may be a good idea to start by eliminating or reducing your intake of the fattiest meats first.

You should avoid any and all red meats that are excessively fatty, including: 

  • Pork
  • Steak
  • Bacon
  • Hamburgers

If you have a sweet tooth, you should beware of consuming too much of the following food…

9. Candy

If you’re eating the wrong type of candy, you can be jeopardizing your gallbladder. Specifically, candy with refined white sugar can lead to gallstones. Unfortunately, most candy is made of mostly refined white sugar.

If you’re looking for healthy candy alternatives, consider switching to dried fruits or sugar-free candies and avoid the following:

  • Candies that use refined sugar
  • Candies high in sugar, as opposed to sugar-free candies

Another beverage that should be avoided at all costs is the following…

10. Soda

Soda is possibly the single worst beverage for individuals concerned about gallstones. Everything on this list we’ve discussed so far that can aggravate gallstones is present in most sodas.

In general, it’s probably best to avoid most types of soda. That being said, the following changes may help:

  • Avoid sodas that are high in sugar
  • Stick to sugar-free diet soda
  • Consider sparkling water as an alternative

For those who enjoy a beverage with a little kick, take note of the following…

11. Alcohol

Alcohol is a bit tricky when it comes to gallstones, with its effects largely depending on your own medical history and how much alcohol you’re consuming.There is some research that suggests moderate consumption of alcohol actually helps gallstone symptoms. In other words, consuming small amounts of alcohol on a regular basis may actually lower your risk of gallstones.

Before you run out to the liquor store for a treatment for your gallstones, it’s also worth pointing out that individuals with unhealthy livers or a history of problems with alcohol can actually have their problems worsened by the solution.

Out of all the dietary changes on this list, this one is the most case-dependent. If you are looking to change your alcohol consumption in order to avoid gallstones, think about your own medical history first and discuss this option with your physician.

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