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Peanut Butter & the Gallbladder

author image Janet Renee, MS, RD
Janet Renee is a clinical dietitian with a special interest in weight management, sports dietetics, medical nutrition therapy and diet trends. She earned her Master of Science in nutrition from the University of Chicago and has contributed to health and wellness magazines, including Prevention, Self, Shape and Cooking Light.
Peanut Butter & the Gallbladder
Peanut butter on a piece of toast. Photo Credit: George Doyle/Stockbyte/Getty Images

When your gallbladder is functioning properly, eating nutritious foods such as peanut butter poses little danger. Your gallbladder plays a crucial role in digesting fat from your diet. If this small organ begins giving you trouble, your doctor will typically prescribe a fat-restricted diet to prevent related symptoms. Unfortunately, if you're a peanut butter lover, this means you must avoid peanut butter until your gallbladder issues are resolved. The good news is, there is an alternative.

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Gallbladder 101

Your gallbladder sits just below your liver and acts as a storage center for a digestive substance made by the liver called bile. Every time you eat a meal that contains fat, your gallbladder contracts to squeeze bile into your intestines, where it breaks fat down into smaller particles your body can absorb. Once digestion is complete, your gallbladder relaxes and returns to storing bile, which is made of cholesterol, salt and other substances.

When Problems Occur

Under normal circumstances, you don't feel your gallbladder contracting or notice anything out of the ordinary after a meal. Gallbladder issues such bile duct problems can cause unpleasant side effects, however. Symptoms include diarrhea, gas or cramping after eating a fat-containing meal. You may also experience a sudden sharp pain on the right side of your abdominal cavity -- due to the gallbladder contracting -- if you have gallstones, or small crystallized pebbles of bile. Not everyone with gallbladder problems has symptoms, however.

Peanut Butter and Your Gallbladder

Your physician may schedule you for gallbladder removal surgery, or determine another course of treatment, if you have gallbladder dysfunction. In the meantime, you may have to limit your fat intake to about 50 grams per day and avoid high-fat foods such as nuts and peanut butter. A serving of peanut butter, which is 2 tablespoons, contains about 15.6 grams of fat, which is too rich for people with gallbladder trouble. Eating peanut butter puts you at risk for uncomfortable digestive symptoms.

Peanut Butter Alternative

If you can't fathom giving up peanut butter until your gallbladder issues resolve, powdered peanut butter is a low-fat alternative. You mix it with water to create a creamy consistency. This way you can still enjoy the creamy, nutty taste of peanut butter without all the fat. Powdered peanut butter is made from peanuts that are pressed to remove about 85 percent of the fat and oil, depending on the brand. A serving of the typical peanut butter powder -- 2 tablespoons -- contains around 1.9 grams of fat.

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