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Gallstones - Preventing gallstones

NHS Choices Medical Reference

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You cannot change some of the things that make you more likely to develop gallstones, for example your age and your gender.

However, from the limited evidence available, changes to your diet and losing weight (if you are overweight) may help prevent gallstones.


Due to the role that cholesterol appears to play in the formation of gallstones, it is advisable to avoid eating fatty foods with a high cholesterol content.

Foods that are high in cholesterol include:

  • meat pies
  • sausages and fatty cuts of meat
  • butter and lard
  • cakes and biscuits

low-fat, high-fibre diet is recommended. This includes plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables (at least five portions a day) and wholegrains.

There is also evidence that regularly eating nuts, such as peanuts or cashews, can help reduce your risk of developing gallstones. Cutting down your drinking to no more than 3-4 units a day for men and 2-3 units a day for women may also reduce your risk.

Losing weight

Being overweight, and particularly being obese, increases the amount of cholesterol in your bile, which, in turn, increases your risk of developing gallstones. You should, therefore, control your weight by eating a healthy diet and taking plenty of regular exercise.

However, avoid low-calorie, rapid weight loss diets. There is evidence that they can disrupt your bile chemistry and increase your risk of developing gallstones. A more gradual weight loss plan is recommended.

Read more about losing weight safely and getting started with exercise.

Medical Review: February 13, 2012
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