Preventing gallstones 

From the limited evidence available, changes to your diet and losing weight (if you're overweight) may help prevent gallstones.


Because of the role cholesterol appears to play in the formation of gallstones, it is advisable to avoid eating too many foods with a high saturated fat content.

Foods high in saturated fat include:

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

A healthy, balanced diet is recommended. This includes plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables (at least five portions a day) and wholegrains.

There's also evidence that regularly eating nuts, such as peanuts or cashews, can help reduce your risk of developing gallstones. 

Drinking small amounts of alcohol may also help reduce your risk of gallstones. However, you shouldn't regularly drink more than 14 units of alcohol a week as this can lead to liver problems and other health conditions. Regularly drinking any amount of alcohol can increase the risk to your health.

Read more about: 

Losing weight

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

However, avoid low-calorie, rapid-weight-loss diets. There's evidence 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 and getting started with exercise.

Page last reviewed: 06/11/2015

Next review due: 06/11/2017