Healthy Eating Guidelines For Preventing Gallbladder Disease


The gallbladder stores bile, which is made by the liver. Gallstones are made when the cholesterol in bile forms hard stones. Gallstones can take many years to form and may not cause any symptoms.

Risk factors for gallbladder disease

Your risk for gallbladder disease may increase if you:

  • Are a woman
  • Are over the age of 60
  • Take cholesterol-lowering medications
  • Are pregnant
  • Take hormone replacement therapy
  • Take birth control pills
  • Are overweight, especially if you are a woman
  • Have diabetes
  • Lose weight very quickly
  • Fast (go without eating for long periods of time)
  • Are Aboriginal

Steps You Can Take

Although no specific diet or food has been proven to prevent gallbladder disease, the following suggestions may help:

  • Eat a healthy diet by following "Canada's Food Guide"
  • Eat a variety of foods from all four food groups.
  • Eat high fibre foods like fruits, vegetables and whole grains.
  • Have 2 to 3 servings of milk and milk alternatives each day. A serving is:
    • one 250 mL (8 oz) of milk
    • 50 grams (1 ½ ounces) of cheese
    • 175 mL (¾ cup) of yogurt.
  • Choose lower fat dairy products like:
    • 1% and skim milk
    • yogurt (2% milk fat or less)
    • lower fat cheese (less than 20% milk fat)
    • low fat sour cream.
  • Eat 2 to 3 servings of meats and alternatives each day. A serving is:
    • 75 grams (2 ½ ounces) of meat, fish or poultry
    • 2 eggs
    • 175 mL (¾ cup) beans, dried peas or lentils
    • 150 grams (¾ cup) tofu
    • 30 mL (2 Tbsp) peanut butter
    • 60 mL (¼ cup) nuts
  • Eat nuts a few times a week. Eat unsalted nuts. Do not to eat too many nuts if you are trying to lose weight.
  • Eat lean meats and poultry. Remove the skin from the poultry. Eat lower fat alternatives like lentils, chickpeas and tofu.
  • Include a small amount of healthy fat each day. Restricting fat does not decrease the risk of gall bladder disease. Limit the fat you use at the table and in cooking. Use only 30-45 mL (2-3 Tbsp) each day. Healthy fats include non-hydrogenated margarine and canola, olive and soybean oils.
  • Eat less sugar. Limit sweetened beverages, candy and sweet desserts.
  • Keep your weight in a healthy range. To find your healthy weight range, see "Body Mass Index Nomogram" Avoid fad diets. Fat diets can cause unhealthy rapid weight loss over a short period of time.
  • If you drink beverages with caffeine, do so in moderation.
    • Moderation for caffeine is:
      • A healthy adult can have up to three 8 oz (250 mL) cups of brewed coffee each day.
      • Pregnant women should limit to two 8 oz (250 mL) cups of brewed coffee each day.
    • For more information on the amounts of caffeine in different beverages, see Health Canada's "Caffeine in Food"
  • If you choose to drink alcohol, do so in moderation. If you are unsure about drinking alcohol, ask your doctor.
    • Moderate alcohol drinking is no more than 1 drink each day. One drink is:
      • 150 mL (5 oz) of wine
      • 360 mL (12 oz) of beer
      • 45 mL (1 ½ oz) of hard liquor.

Additional Resources

Health Canada, "Eating Well with Canada's Food Guide"

Health Canada, "Body Mass Index Nomogram"

HealthLinkBC Files #68f Dietary Fats and Your Health

Dietitian Services Fact Sheets available by mail (call 8-1-1) or at

Last updated: April 2011

These resources are provided as sources of additional information believed to be reliable and accurate at the time of publication and should not be considered an endorsement of any information, service, product or company.

Distributed by:

Dietitian Services at HealthLinkBC (formerly Dial-A-Dietitian), providing free nutrition information and resources for BC residents and health professionals. Go to Healthy Eating or call 8-1-1 (anywhere in BC). Interpreters are available in over 130 languages.

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