What does green stool mean?

Green stool may be due to eating certain foods or taking iron supplements.
Green stool may be due to eating certain foods or taking iron supplements.

The normal color of the stool is brown, although green or greenish stool is also considered normal. The most common causes of green stool include

  • Eating green veggies such as spinach and kale
  • Ingesting green food coloring
  • Taking iron supplements

Sometimes during diarrhea when the food moves through the intestine rapidly, there isn’t enough time for the bile to break down the food completely. This may also cause green stools.

Stool color chart

Stool Color Changes
ColorPotential CauseWhat to Do
BlackGastrointestinal (GI) bleedingIt's an emergency
BlackIron, bismuthCannot assume this to be the reason for the stool color
MaroonGI bleedingThis is an emergency
RedHemorrhoidsConsult a physician 
RedInflammatory bowel diseaseConsult a physician 
RedInfection, diverticular bleedConsult a physician 
RedTumor, rapid upper GI bleedingConsult a physician 
Green A diet high in green vegetablesConsult a physician 
Green Associated with diarrheaConsult a physician 
GreenNormal colorConsult a physician 
BrownNormal colorNothing
YellowDiseases of the pancreasConsult a physician 
YellowCeliac disease, cystic fibrosisConsult a physician 
YellowGiardia infectionConsult a physician 
Clay, pale yellow or whiteLiver or biliary diseaseLack of bile in the stool

SLIDESHOW

Super Tips to Boost Digestive Health: Bloating, Constipation, and More See Slideshow

Which foods can change the color of stools?

Foods can play a major role in changing the color of stools, which include

  • Green leafy vegetables such as spinach and kale (green)
  • Green food coloring used in drinks or ice pops (green)
  • Iron supplements (green or black)
  • Gluten-rich foods such as wheat, barley or rye (yellow)
  • Bread, pasta and cookies (yellow)
  • Barium (black)
  • Black licorice (black)
  • Blueberries (black)
  • Beets (red)
  • Tomato soup (red)
  • Gelatin dessert (red or orange)
  • Red drinks (red)
  • Carrots (orange)
  • Winter squash (orange)
  • Pumpkin (orange)
  • Sweet potatoes (orange)
  • Sodas (orange)
  • Candy (orange)

What causes a color change in the stools?

Some common causes of color change in the stools include

What are the symptoms associated with stool color changes?

Symptoms associated with the stool color may be due to an underlying condition. In many cases, there may be no symptoms at all. Accompanying symptoms include the following

When should I seek medical care for stool color changes?

If the stool color changes are due to changes in the diet, it will resolve on its own. If there’s a persistent change in the color of the stool, you should seek immediate medical attention. 

Additionally, contact a physician if you observe the following symptoms

Health Solutions From Our Sponsors

Medically Reviewed on 9/17/2020
References
Medscape Medical Reference