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Which Fats Can I Eat with Gallbladder Problems

Posted by Deborah Graefer, L.Ac., MTOM on

Fats Within the Foods May Be Easier                Avocado Half

Avocado oil within the fruit itself can be easier to tolerate than the extracted oil. Likewise, olives can be easier on the gallbladder than olive oil and fish vs fish oil. Sometimes oil is hard to take.

But gallbladder problems can be caused by too little fat as well as too much. Once again it all boils down to moderation! In the beginning, as in recovering from a gallbladder attack, this is an exception. When everything you eat causes pain, any kind and amount of fat most likely will as well. The Beet Recipe with flax or olive oil and lemon juice is usually not only tolerable but helpful. Start sparingly with the oil.

However, once you have taken the pressure off the gallbladder by thinning and moving the bile, have supported your digestion by removing gallbladder triggers as well as allergens, and added digestive supplements to your protocol, you need to be eating fats for your gallbladder. Gallstones and other gallbladder diseases are caused by lack of fats as much as by too much fat.

What Do Fats Do

  • keep the gallbladder working or "exercising"
  • make hormones
  • carry vitamins
  • provide energy
  • provide the materials for building membranes of cell walls
  • regulate enzyme functions
  • reduce inflammation
  • regulate immune function
  • modulate cardiovascular health

Benefits of Healthy Fats:

  • brain development and function
  • reduction of anxiety
  • emotional stability
  • concentration
  • energy
  • immune function
  • reduction of pain and inflammation
  • increased sense of well-being
  • balancing blood sugar and insulin

In the beginning, flax oil is probably the easiest to digest but everyone is different. I have had a few gallbladder patients tell me the only fat they can digest is coconut; others can't tolerate it. The interesting thing about coconut oil is that although it is a saturated fat, it is a medium-chain triglyceride which means that it doesn't require bile for emulsification. It basically bypasses the gallbladder involvement. So, if you have trouble digesting it, it is more likely due to an intolerance of the nut itself, i.e. an allergy, versus the state of your gallbladder or bile.

Olive Oil for the Gallbladder

Olive oil is also easy on digestion, relatively speaking, of course. Most people have no trouble with it. Use extra virgin, and unrefined, and start slowly.

Essential fatty acids are essential to the body and only available from outside sources, i.e. your diet. Essential fatty acids are the omega 3's and 6's. We usually get enough omega 6's without thinking about it; the omega 3's we need to make a concerted effort to ingest.

Omega 3's are divided into 3 types, ALA, EPA and DHA. ALA needs to be converted in the body to EPA and DHA. Many bodies are not very efficient at this conversion which is why supplements are recommended. I have chosen one high in EPA(1600 mg)which is best for combating inflammation, but it also includes 300 mg of DHA for the brain. Considering the low conversion rate and compounding that with an impaired bile system, supplementation of EPA is necessary.

Many people complain of burping fish oils. That is often because the oil is not fresh, but rancid. However, it could also be a sign your gallbladder is not working well and watching for the burping of fish oils to go away can be a sign that it is doing better. You could try different brands to see if one is fresher and easier to absorb. I recommend the Nordic Naturals Professional ProEPA-Xtra as theirs does not seem to be an issue, even for impaired gallbladders. In your diet, fresh leafy green vegetables are high in ALA. Fresh fish is the only food source of already-converted EPA and DHA, essential for many things, but known best for use by the heart and brain.


Good Fats, Bad Fats Summary

Bad Fats to be Avoided

  • Hydrogenated fats - found in cookies, crackers, peanut butter, ice cream
  • Partially hydrogenated fats - worse than straight hydrogenated
  • Trans fats - fried foods, hydrogenated and partially-hydrogenated fats contain trans fats
  • Saturated fats - in moderation - depends on how much and which ones
  • Genetically-modified oils - most canola, corn

Good Fats to Include

  • Omega 3s - the essential fatty acids - we need to supplement these consciously - fish oils, flax, borage, hemp
  • Omega 6 - most vegetable oils, seeds and nuts - sunflower, safflower, avocado - very small amounts
  • Omega 9 - olive oil, macadamia nut oil
  • Saturated - Medium chain triglycerides - coconut oil

Gallbladder-Friendly Fats

Please note that depending on your condition, you may not be able to eat ANY of these in the beginning. Start slowly.

  • Flax oil - cold only
  • Olive oil - us cold and heated up to 375°F only - moderate temperature
  • Fish oil - high EPA for gallbladder problems
  • Coconut oil - up to 375°F


How can I eat any of these fats, good or bad, when my gallbladder is not working at optimal level?

  1. Start slowly 
  2. Support your fat digestion with Beets, Bile and/or Choline!

If you are on the 30 Day Gallbladder Solution, you are already taking Beets and Bile Salts. Just be sure to include them or even take extra when increasing your fats. And if you are on the After Gallbladder Removal Kit, Bile and Choline are included and should be taken together for fat digestion. This combination works especially well for symptoms of gas and bloating resulting from insufficient fat digestion.


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