You’re here because you care about your liver. And we’re here to help—with a website for people who care about their liver, too. so we introduce you to food to help with the liver.
Food For Liver
Food with lots of fiber can help your liver work at its best. Want one that’s a great way to start your day? Try oatmeal. Research shows it can help you shed some extra pounds and belly fat, which is a good way to keep away liver disease.
Stay Away From Fatty Foods
French fries and burgers are a poor choice to keep your liver healthy. Eat too many foods that are high in saturated fat and it can make it harder for your liver to do its job. Over time it may lead to inflammation, which in turn could cause scarring of the liver that’s known as cirrhosis. So next time you’re in the drive-thru line, think about ordering a healthier option.
Add lots of veggies to your diet if you want to keep your liver healthy. Broccoli can be part of this strategy. Some studies suggest this crunchy food can help protect you from nonalcoholic fatty liver disease. If steamed broccoli sounds a little too blah, shred it into a slaw and toss it with sliced almonds, dried cranberries, and a tangy vinaigrette. It’s also delicious roasted with garlic and a splash of balsamic vinegar.
If you can’t make it through the day without it, you’ll be glad to hear that it may have some benefits for your liver. Studies show that drinking two to three cups a day can protect your liver from damage caused by too much alcohol or an unhealthy diet. Some research suggests it may lower your risk of liver cancer.
Ease Up on Sugar
Too much of the sweet stuff can take a toll on your liver. That’s because part of its job is to convert sugar into fat. If you overdo it, your liver makes too much fat, which ends up hanging around where it doesn’t belong. In the long run, you could get a condition like fatty liver disease. So do your liver a favor and make sweets an occasional treat.
It’s brimming with a type of antioxidant called catechins. Research suggests it may protect against some forms of cancer, including liver. You’ll get more catechins if you brew tea yourself and drink it hot. Iced tea and ready-to-drink green teas have much lower levels.
One of the best things you can do for your liver is keep a healthy weight. Get in the habit of drinking water instead of sweetened drinks like sodas or sports drinks. You’d be amazed at how many calories it will save you each day.
Nuts — especially these — are good sources of vitamin E, a nutrient that research suggests may help protect against fatty liver disease. Almonds are good for your heart, too, so grab a handful the next time you feel like snacking. Or try them in salads, where they add a nice crunch.
Leafy greens have a powerful antioxidant called glutathione, which can help keep your liver working right. And spinach couldn’t be easier to prepare. It makes a great base for a dinner salad, and it’s also delicious sauteed with garlic and olive oil. When it’s wilted, top it with a dusting of fresh parmesan.
They’ve got nutrients in them called polyphenols that may help protect you against nonalcoholic fatty liver disease, which often goes hand in hand with obesity and high cholesterol. If blueberries aren’t your thing, other foods rich in polyphenols include dark chocolate, olives, and plums.
Be Moderate With Alcohol
Drinking too much can wreak havoc on your liver. Over time it can lead to cirrhosis. Even occasional binge drinking — four drinks in one sitting for women and five for men — can be harmful, too. Try to limit yourself to one drink a day if you’re a woman or two a day if you’re a man.
Herbs and Spices
Want to protect your liver and your heart at the same time? Sprinkle on some oregano, sage, or rosemary. They’re a good source of healthy polyphenols. An extra benefit: they help you cut back on salt in many recipes. Cinnamon, curry powder, and cumin are good ones to try, too.
Limit Packaged Snack Foods
Next time you feel the call of the vending machine, reach for a healthy snack instead. The problem with chips and baked goods is that they’re usually loaded with sugar, salt, and fat. Cutting back is a relatively easy diet tweak with a little planning. One good strategy: Bring a stash of healthy snacks with you to work. Try an apple with a single-serve packet of nut butter, or sugar snap peas with a mini-cup of hummus.
What foods protect the liver
The liver is responsible for managing all the fats, protein, and carbohydrates that people ingest. It also controls the production of numerous other fats and proteins important for bodily functions. There are many foods and drinks that a person can consume to help protect the liver.
Some of the best foods and drinks that are good for the liver include the following.
One 2014 review suggests that over 50% of people in the United States consume coffee daily.
Coffee appears to be good for the liver, especially because it protects against issues such as fatty liver disease.
The review also notes that daily coffee intake may help reduce the risk of chronic liver disease. It may also protect the liver from damaging conditions, such as liver cancer.
A 2014 study suggests that the protective effects of coffee may be due to how it influences liver enzymes.
Coffee, it reports, seems to reduce fat buildup in the liver. It also increases protective antioxidants in the liver. The compounds in coffee also help liver enzymes rid the body of cancer-causing substances.
Consuming oatmeal is an easy way to add fiber to the diet. Fiber is an important tool for digestion, and the specific fibers in oats may be especially helpful for the liver. Oats and oatmeal are high in compounds called beta-glucans.
The review also notes that beta-glucans from oats appear to help reduce the amount of fat stored in the liver in mice, which could also help protect the liver. More clinical studies are necessary to confirm this benefit in humans, however.
People who are looking to add oats or oatmeal to their diet should look for whole oats or steel-cut oats rather than instant oatmeal. Instant oatmeal may contain fillers such as flour or sugars, which will not be as beneficial for the body.
3. Green tea
One 2016 review suggests that green tea may help reduce the risk of liver cancer in female Asian populations. However, the study notes that more research is necessary.
It is important to note that drinking green tea may be better for health than taking a green tea extract, as high dose extracts may damage the liver rather than heal it.
A small 2016 study suggests that supplementing the diet with garlic powder capsules can reduce body weight and body fat in people with nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD), with no loss of lean body mass.
Many dark berries — including blueberries, raspberries, and cranberries — contain antioxidants called polyphenols, which may help protect the liver from damage.
Best and Worst Foods for Your Liver, According to a Dietitian
Your liver does a fantastic job clearing toxins the body, so no need for restrictive juice “cleanses” or “detox diets”. But there are a few things you could eat more of—and a few to cut back on—to help your liver work to the best of its ability. Hear what a dietitian has to say on the topic.
The liver is an important organ that helps rid the body of waste or “toxins” and it does a fantastic job of doing so. And no restrictive “cleanses” or “detox diets” are needed for the liver to do its job well. All the blood leaving your stomach and intestines pass through the liver. The liver processes the blood and keeps the healthy nutrients, while excreting the waste. Additionally, the liver is identified as having over 500 other important functions including:
- Producing bile, which helps carry away waste and breaks down fat in the small intestine
- Producing cholesterol and specific proteins that help carry fat through the body.
- Clearing the blood of drugs and other toxins.
- Regulating blood clotting.
- Removing bacteria from the blood and producing immune factors to help fight infections.
According to the Fatty Liver Foundation, about 100 million Americans have a condition known as fatty liver, which is when fat accumulates in the liver and causes inflammation and generally makes it harder for your liver to function at its best. Fatty liver disease can be caused by alcohol or diet. In 5 million people, fatty liver can progress to a condition known as liver cirrhosis and potentially end in liver failure.
Even if you don’t have a diagnosed liver condition, it’s important to take care of your liver, just like it’s important to take care of your heart and brain. You can do so by maintaining a healthy weight, exercising regularly and eating the foods that help your liver work to the best of its ability—while cutting back on a few that aren’t as helpful.
CREDIT: GETTY IMAGES / BLUERINGMEDIA, ADOBE STOCK / YULIA
Best foods for your liver
In general, an overall healthy diet, which includes plenty of colorful fruits and vegetables, high-fiber whole grains, healthy fats, lean protein sources and calcium-rich dairy items or dairy alternatives is what your liver—and the rest of your body—runs best on. On a more specific level, studies have shown certain foods can be exceptionally helpful when it comes to protecting from liver disease and improving outcomes for those with liver disease. Below are four of the best and four of the worst foods for your liver.
1. Avocado Oil
Folks with fatty liver tend to a have a condition known as insulin resistance. This means that your body can make insulin but cannot use it efficiently in the body. Insulin is made by your pancreas and helps carry glucose (AKA sugar) out of your bloodstream and transports it into your body to be used by your cells. Someone with insulin resistance can have insulin build up in the bloodstream, and this can also affect your liver too. A 2019 study found that avocado oil can help decrease liver inflammation association with non-alcoholic fatty liver. All the more reason to top your grain bowl with avocado, add it to your smoothies, scoop up some guacamole or substitute high-heat canola or vegetable oil with avocado oil.
2. Olive oil
Olive oil’s healthy monounsaturated fats have been associated with decreasing fat content in the liver in rats with non-alcoholic fatty liver disease. A study published in World Journal of Gastroenterology found that rats with non-alcoholic fatty liver disease given olive oil decreased the build-up of a fat called triglycerides.
Even though the study was in done rats (human studies are the gold standard), olive oil’s benefits have long been researched, so rest assured. Not only is olive oil beneficial when it comes to improving our lipid profile (meaning the amount of triglycerides, HLD (or “helpful”) cholesterol levels and LDL (or “less helpful”) cholesterol levels in our blood) it also helps to decrease inflammation throughout the body.
A 2020 review published in Nutrients found that omega-3 fatty acids can help decrease inflammation found in fatty liver disease. In addition, the review study found that omega-3s may also improve blood levels of total cholesterol, triglycerides and HDL or the helpful cholesterol, as well as having a positive effect on body mass. Omega-3 fats can be incorporated into the diet by including fatty fish like salmon or tuna several times a week.
According to a 2017 study published in Journal of Translational Internal Medicine, antioxidants called polyphenols may help with the treatment of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease by increasing fatty acid oxidation (or breakdown) and better controlling insulin resistance, oxidative stress and inflammation, which are the main factors linked to the progression from simple fat accumulation to fatty liver disease. Polyphenols are found in high amounts in berries likes strawberries, blueberries and raspberries.
Worst foods for your liver
While no single food is completely off limits, it’s best to limit these four for general health and wellbeing as well as liver health.
Alcohol-related liver disease is due to years of drinking too much alcohol. Excessive drinking is defined as more than eight alcoholic beverages per week for women and more than fifteen alcoholic beverages per week for men. One drink is defined as 12 fluid ounces of beer, 5 fluid ounces of wine, or 1.5 fluid ounces of 80-proof liquid like rum or vodka. Eventually, the liver becomes inflamed and irreversible damage to the liver known as cirrhosis. If you choose to drink alcohol, do so in moderation which is defined as a maximum of one drink per day for women and two drinks per day men.
2. Fried foods
Fried foods, like chicken fingers and French fries, are high in saturated fat. Eating too much saturated fat can make it tough for your liver to do its job and over time, can lead to inflammation of the liver and possibly irreversible liver damage (AKA cirrhosis). According to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, it’s recommended to keep saturated fat to less than 10% of your total daily calories, or about 13 grams.
Try a healthier alternative, like these baked Parmesan Chicken Tenders or these Crispy Oven-Baked Fries,.
3. Processed meats
Processed meats like salami, bacon and hot dogs tend to be very high in saturated fat, which when eaten over time may lead to damage of your liver. If you choose to eat processed meats, do so in small amounts and choose lean and very lean meats whenever possible.
Added sugar provides little to no nutrients. Having too much added sugar can cause the liver to convert the excess sugar to fat, which over time can contribute to fatty liver disease. The Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend that no more than 10% of your total calories come from added sugar. As such, it’s important to pick and choose how you want to use your added sugar and do so sparingly.
Eating a healthy diet, which includes plenty of colorful fruits and vegetables, high-fiber whole grains, healthy fats, lean protein sources and calcium-rich dairy items or dairy alternatives is what your liver—and the rest of your body—runs best on. If you do drink alcohol, do so in moderation, and keep fried foods, processed meats and added sugar (from foods like soda) also to a minimum.