10 Gallbladder Friendly Foods

In this article we will answer the question of what are the best foods to eat when your gallbladder is acting up? However, before we get into the gallbladder friendly foods, let’s learn a little more about this all-important organ that plays a crucial role in fat digestion.

Gallbladder friendly foods: Image of olives with olive oil.

The gallbladder is a sac attached to the underside of the liver, designed for storing, concentrating, and releasing bile formed by the liver. While the liver manufactures up to 1000 milliliters of bile each day, the gallbladder has a capacity of only 60 milliliters. Water, salt, and other minerals are actively absorbed by the mucosa lining the gallbladder.

In this way the bile coming from the liver, and shunted into the gallbladder, is concentrated five to fifteenfold, thus enabling the gallbladder to store the bile which is secreted over a twelve hour period. When the partially digested food leaves the stomach, the gallbladder is triggered to release the concentrated bile into the duodenum.

The bile (bile salts and bile acids) then emulsifies the fat, facilitating its digestion, and aids in the absorption of fatty acids, cholesterol, and other fatlike substances.

Gallbladder Friendly Foods

ARTICHOKES contain cynarin, which facilitates the emptying of the gallbladder, but with less intensity than its choleretic effect. Consequently, it is appropriate in cases of biliary dyspepsia provoked by gallstones or other gallbladder dysfunction. The bitter taste in the mouth and slow digestion associated with eating high fat foods improve considerably after an artichoke treatment (eating one-half kilo of artichokes daily for 3 to 4 days).

CARDOON is beneficial for liver patients and diabetics. It is among one of the best gallbladder friendly foods, thanks to cynarin. The non-nutritive substance has a significant effect on the liver: it increases bile secretion, decongests the liver, and facilitates detoxification processes. Since bile is more fluid, the gallbladder empties more easily resulting in lowered risk of calculus formation.

CATALOGNA is cultivated in Mediterranean countries, particularly Italy. Its dark green leaves are similar to dandelion. It is quite bitter and very rich in provitamin A, which makes it an excellent edition to a gallbladder healthy diet.

The BELGIAN ENDIVE eases digestion for gallbladder patients due to the presence of calculi or disruption of its proper drainage. The beneficial action of the bitter substances in the Belgian endive, together with its virtual lack of fat makes it very easy to digest, which makes it one of the best foods to eat with gallstones.

The ESCAROLE as well, contains a bitter substance that stimulates the digestive organs and facilitates the drainage of the gallbladder. In addition to being choleretic and cholagogic, it is alkalizing and mildly diuretic. It is usually eaten in salad and is particularly useful in gallbladder disorders and obesity.

CHINESE ARTICHOKE native to Japan and China, and recently cultivated in Europe, produces tubers that are very rich in minerals and trace element, particularly phosphorous and silicon. They’re on the gallbladder friendly foods list because their among the many bile healthy foods. They are eaten boiled or roasted.

RADISHES promote bile production, which makes them an excellent addition to the foods to eat with gallbladder issues list. All varieties of radish contain sulfurated essence that gives them a sharp, piquant taste, and also is attributed with choleretic (increases bile production), cholagogic (facilitates gallbladder drainage), digestive, antibiotic, and mucolytic (softening mucus) properties.

APPLES are also on the list of gallbladder friendly foods thanks to their positive effect on gallstones. Studies conducted at the University of Toulouse (France) with laboratory animals shows that apples have choleretic effect (increases bile production in the liver) which decongests the liver. It also reduces the lithogenic index of the bile, which measures the tendency to form biliary calculi.

It is reasonable, then, to recommend apples to patients who are at high risk of cholelithiasis (particularly women between 40 and 50 years old with more than two children), or those who have undergone surgery, which makes it a great addition to a gallbladder diet after surgery. Apples make the bile more fluid and prevent the formation or calculi, although they have no effect on those that are already formed.

OLIVES, as well as olive oil, act as a cholagogue, facilitating the emptying of the gallbladder. They are useful in case of biliary dyskinesia (disorder that interferes with gallbladder drainage) and biliary dyspepsia (indigestion caused by disturbances in the drainage of the gallbladder). In cases of gallstones, they may be used, but carefully.

PAPAYA is on the list of gallbladder friendly foods because of its effect on all digestive processes and is very low in fat content. Papaya is beneficial for those with biliary dyspepsia and chronic pancreatitis.


George D. Pamplona-Roger, M.D. “Encyclopedia of Foods and Their Healing Power.” George D. Pamplona-Roger, M.D. Encyclopedia of Foods and Their Healing Power. Trans. Annette Melgosa. Vol. 2. Chai Wan: Editorial Safeliz, 2005. 177, 168, 179, 180, 176, 181, 231, 232, 167, 158.

Last update on 2023-09-30 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

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