In brief: Say nuts to gallstones

In brief

Say nuts to gallstones

Your gallbladder is a little sack that holds extra bile made by the liver before it gets pumped down the common bile duct and into the small intestine. Bile, a greenish yellow juice, helps break down fat. If it contains too much cholesterol, the cholesterol tends to crystallize, and you wind up with gallstones.

Nuts, long consigned to salty snack-food status by Americans, are being taken more seriously after earning a few nutritional merit badges, most prominently for heart disease prevention. Now they may win another one for preventing gallstones.

Harvard researchers published a study in late 2004 showing that high nut (peanuts counted) consumption (5 ounces or more per week) lowered the risk of gallstones by 30% when compared with low consumption (less than 1 ounce per month). Their data come from the Health Professionals Follow-up Study of 51,529 male American dentists, veterinarians, optometrists, osteopathic physicians, and podiatrists.

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