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You may be able to help prevent gallstones by:

  • changing your diet
  • losing weight - if you're overweight

Diet

Cholesterol seems to play a major role in how gallstones form.

Avoid eating too many foods with a high saturated fat content.

Foods high in saturated fat include:

  • sausages and fatty cuts of meat
  • butter, ghee and lard
  • cream
  • hard cheeses
  • cakes and biscuits
  • food containing coconut or palm oil

Try and have a healthy, balanced diet. This includes plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables and wholegrains. You should eat at least 5 portions a day of fruit and veg a day.

Eating peanuts or cashews nuts, can help reduce your risk of developing gallstones.

Read more about how to eat well

Drinking small amounts of alcohol may also help reduce your risk of gallstones. Drinking more than 14 units of alcohol a week can lead to liver problems and other health conditions. Regularly drinking any amount of alcohol can increase the risk to your health.

Read about alcohol's effects on the liver

Losing weight

Being overweight, particularly being obese, increases the amount of cholesterol in your bile. This increases your risk of developing gallstones.

Control your weight by:

  • eating a healthy diet
  • taking plenty of exercise

Don't do very low-calorie, rapid-weight-loss diets. There's evidence they can disrupt your bile chemistry. This can increase your risk of developing gallstones. A more gradual weight loss plan is better for you.

Read more about how to eat well and exercise

Content supplied by the NHS and adapted for Ireland by the HSE.

page last reviewed: 22/12/2020
next review due: 22/12/2023

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This project has received funding from the Government of Ireland’s Sláintecare Integration Fund 2019 under Grant Agreement Number 123.