Diet Restrictions With Jaundice

Jaundice is caused by certain medical conditions and is characterized by a yellow tinge to the skin and eyes. If you have jaundice, drinking plenty of fluids and following a diet that is low in fat, rich in fruits, vegetables and whole grains can help treat jaundice. It may also be necessary to modify your protein intake.

A woman is drinking water. (Image: Medioimages/Photodisc/Photodisc/Getty Images)

Causes and Symptoms of Jaundice

In adults, jaundice can be caused by certain conditions including alcoholic liver disease, blocked bile ducts, hepatitis and pancreatic cancer. The yellow pigment that gives the characteristic yellow color is bilirubin, which is a byproduct of old red blood cells. Usually, the liver disposes of old red blood cells and the bilirubin leaves the body. If there are too many old red blood cells for the liver to handle, a build up of old red blood cells occurs. When there is enough yellow pigmentation from elevated levels of bilirubin to become visible, jaundice results.


If you have jaundice, it's important to eat a diet that is very low in saturated fat. Instead, fat intake should primarily be from monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats. Saturated fats are found in animal products such as beef, butter, cheese and palm oil. The American Heart Association recommends that saturated fats should account for 7 percent or less of your daily caloric intake. Monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats can be found in foods such as olive oil, nuts, avocados and fish such as salmon.


Depending on the underlying cause of your jaundice, it may be beneficial to limit your protein intake. The focus of protein intake should be on lean proteins such as turkey, chicken and fish. Vegetable proteins such as beans, lentils, nuts and tofu can also be included. By focusing on leaner proteins, your saturated fat intake can be reduced.

Fluids and other Considerations

Drinking plenty of fluids is also very important if you have jaundice. You should consume daily at least 1.2 liters, or eight glasses. Alcohol should also be avoided to prevent further damage to the liver. Your diet should also be rich in fruits and vegetables, ideally at least five portions per day. Whole grains should also be included in the diet. A registered dietitian can help you create a meal plan that meets your nutritional needs.

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