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Fruits and vegetables play a role in reducing gallbladder removal surgeries in women.

Diets high in fruits and vegetables have been shown to reduce the risk of heart disease, cancer, and osteoporosis and may also decrease gallbladder surgeries in women. Unfortunately, gallbladder disease is a common illness of adults, affecting women more often than men. Each year, more than 800,000 Americans have their gallbladders removed. A recent study examined the relationship between intake of fruits and vegetables and the rate of gallbladder removal surgeries in women.

In 1976, 121,700 female nurses aged 30 to 55 completed the first Nurses Health Study questionnaire. Every two years until 2000, a follow-up questionnaire was sent to update information that was used in many studies ranging from cancer to cardiovascular health. For this study, researchers used data from 77,090 participants to calculate intake of fruits, vegetables, fiber, and specific vitamins and minerals. Data regarding gallbladder surgeries were also collected.

Women whose diets were the highest in green leafy vegetables, citrus fruits, and vitamin C-rich foods (more than 30 milligrams vitamin C per serving) were less likely to have their gallbladder removed. This is most likely due to diets high in fiber and antioxidants. High fiber diets stimulate bowel movement and reduce bile storage in the gallbladder. Antioxidant vitamins, such as vitamin C, and various minerals (especially magnesium) show a protective effect on gut health. For women, this research suggests a positive relationship between a diet high in fiber, fruits, and vegetables and a reduced rate of gallbladder surgeries. While no single food can lower risk for gallbladder removal, everyone can benefit from a diet containing a variety of fruits and vegetables.

Tsai CJ, Leitzmann MF, Willett WC, Giovannucci EL. 2006. Fruit and vegetable consumption and risk of cholecystectomy in women. Am J Med 119(9): 760-67.

By Reed Mangels, PhD, RD, FADA

* The article above was reviewed by Stephanie Gall, MS, VRG Dietetic Intern.
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Author:Mangels, Reed
Publication:Vegetarian Journal
Date:Apr 1, 2007
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