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What Is the Best Diet for Gallstones?

Lentils may be beneficial in helping break down gallstones.
Foods rich in fiber, such as pears, are good to eat when treating gallstones.
Prunes are good for those with gallstones.
A healthy gallbladder and one with gallstones.
Lecithins found in tofu can help break down gallstones.
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  • Written By: Rebecca Harkin
  • Edited By: Angela B.
  • Last Modified Date: 28 March 2014
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Scientific evidence shows, and most medical doctors agree, that no special diet or food exists that will dissolve gallstones. Some claim that homeopathic remedies incorporating lecithins and high doses of vitamin C into the diet can break down gallstones. Cholesterol, in the presence of high vitamin C concentrations, becomes a bile acid that may help to dissolve gallstones. Lecithins, found in tofu and lentils, help to disintegrate fat molecules and may also help to break down gallstones. Instead of trying to rid the body of gallstones after they've formed, the medical community promotes the prevention of gallstone formation through a healthy diet.

Before crafting a preventive diet for gallstones, it is necessary to understand the primary function of the gallbladder and the formation of gallstones. The gallbladder is a small organ connected, by way of ducts or tubes, to the pancreas, liver, and small intestine. The liver produces bile and passes it along to the gallbladder. The gallbladder holds the bile until digestion begins, and then passes it to the small intestine. The small intestine uses the bile for digestion.

Gallstones range in size from a grain of rice to a walnut. Two types of gallstones, cholesterol stones and pigment stones, can develop in the gallbladder. Cholesterol stones are the most prevalent type of gallstone.

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High cholesterol levels contribute to the formation of cholesterol stones. Bile is like a soup composed of cholesterol, bilirubin, proteins and bile salts. When there is an excessive amount of cholesterol in the body, it will be incorporated into the bile, where it can precipitate or fall out of the bile and form crystals. The small crystals then coagulate to form cholesterol stones of various sizes. A diet for gallstones should decrease cholesterol levels in the blood to potentially help prevent stones from developing.

A diet for gallstones should emphasize two areas: a reduction in cholesterol intake and increased intake of foods that help to control cholesterol levels in the blood. Reducing excess cholesterol in the blood will lower cholesterol concentrations in the bile. This will greatly reduce the opportunity for gallstones to develop.

Eating a low-cholesterol diet means avoiding saturated fats, which are found in red meats, poultry with the skin on, processed meats, egg yolks, butter, shortening and hydrogenated oil. Instead, use lean meats that are not coated with a layer of fat or remove the fat or skin before cooking. Broil meat or cook it on a rack to allow the fat to drain away before eating. Cook stews and soups, let the fat coagulate, and then skim the fat off before eating. When cooking oil is absolutely necessary, pick one low in saturated fat but high in monounsaturated fat, like olive oil or canola oil.

In addition to eating a low-cholesterol diet, a diet for gallstones should also include foods that help to control cholesterol levels in the blood. Fiber locks onto cholesterol and fat, bundles it together in a waste product, and eliminates it from the body. This results in lower levels of cholesterol in the blood. Foods rich in fibers are whole grains, beans, brown rice and fruits and vegetables, especially bananas, pears, prunes and figs.

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