Are you looking for a way to improve your liver health?
The liver is one of the most important organs in your body. It helps with digestion and detoxification, as well as many other functions. Many people associate liver disease with alcohol abuse, but there are other things that can cause damage to the liver that you might not know about.
If you’ve been looking for ways to keep your liver healthy, here are some tips that can help:
-Make sure you’re getting enough sleep each night. The liver needs rest so it can repair itself after working hard throughout the day.
-Eat foods high in vitamin A, C and E to help keep your liver functioning properly.
-Avoid alcohol consumption; while it might be tempting to drink after a long day at work or school, alcohol can actually harm your liver health over time!
Health Food For Liver
The liver is a powerhouse of an organ.
It performs a variety of essential tasks, ranging from producing proteins, cholesterol, and bile to storing vitamins, minerals, and even carbohydrates.
It also breaks down toxins like alcohol, medications, and natural byproducts of metabolism. Keeping your liver in good shape is important for maintaining health.
This article lists the 11 best foods to eat to keep your liver healthy.
Coffee is one of the best beverages you can drink to promote liver health.
Studies have shown that drinking coffee protects the liver from disease, even among those who already have problems with this organ.
For example, studies have repeatedly shown that drinking coffee helps lower the risk of cirrhosis, or permanent liver damage, in people with chronic liver disease.
Drinking coffee may also help reduce the risk of developing a common type of liver cancer, and it has positive effects on liver disease and inflammation.
It’s even associated with a lower risk of death in people with chronic liver disease, with the greatest benefits seen in those who drink at least three cups per day (4Trusted Source).
These benefits seem to stem from its ability to prevent the buildup of fat and collagen, two of the main markers of liver disease (2Trusted Source).
Coffee also decreases inflammation and increases levels of the antioxidant glutathione. Antioxidants neutralize harmful free radicals, which are produced naturally in the body and can damage cells (2Trusted Source).
While coffee has many health benefits, your liver, in particular, will thank you for that morning pick-me-up (5Trusted Source).
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Coffee increases antioxidant levels in the liver, all while decreasing inflammation. It also helps lower the risk of developing liver disease, cancer, and fatty liver.
Tea is widely considered to be beneficial for health, but evidence has shown that it may have particular benefits for the liver.
One Japanese study found that drinking 10 cups of green tea per day was associated with improved blood markers of liver health (6Trusted Source).
A smaller study including people with nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) found that drinking green tea high in antioxidants for 12 weeks improved liver enzyme levels and may also help reduce oxidative stress and fat deposits in the liver (7Trusted Source).
Furthermore, another review found that people who drank green tea were less likely to develop liver cancer. The lowest risk was seen in people who drank four or more cups per day (8Trusted Source).
A number of mouse and rat studies have also demonstrated the beneficial effects of black and green tea extracts (9Trusted Source, 10Trusted Source).
For example, one study in mice found that black tea extract reversed many of the negative effects of a high fat diet on the liver, as well as improved blood markers of liver health (11Trusted Source).
Nevertheless, some people, especially those who have liver problems, should exercise caution before consuming green tea as a supplement.
That’s because there have been several reports of liver damage resulting from the use of supplements containing green tea extract (12Trusted Source).
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Black and green tea may help improve enzyme and fat levels in the liver. However, exercise caution if you’re taking a green tea extract, as it may cause damage.
Grapefruit contains antioxidants that naturally protect the liver. The two main antioxidants found in grapefruit are naringenin and naringin.
Several animal studies have found that both help protect the liver from injury.
The protective effects of grapefruit are known to occur in two ways — by reducing inflammation and protecting cells.
Studies have also shown that these antioxidants can help reduce the development of hepatic fibrosis, a harmful condition in which excessive connective tissue builds up in the liver. This typically results from chronic inflammation.
Moreover, in mice that were fed a high fat diet, naringenin decreased the amount of fat in the liver and increased the number of enzymes necessary to burn fat, which can help prevent excess fat from accumulating (13Trusted Source).
Lastly, in rats, naringin has been shown to help improve the ability to metabolize alcohol and counteract some of alcohol’s negative effects (15Trusted Source).
Thus far, the effects of grapefruit or grapefruit juice itself, rather than its components, have not been studied. Additionally, almost all studies looking at the antioxidants in grapefruit have been conducted in animals.
Nevertheless, the current evidence points to grapefruit being a good way to keep your liver healthy by helping prevent damage and inflammation.
The antioxidants in grapefruit protect the liver by reducing inflammation and increasing its protective mechanisms. However, human studies, as well as those on grapefruit or grapefruit juice itself, are lacking.
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4. Blueberries and cranberries
Blueberries and cranberries both contain anthocyanins, which are antioxidants that give berries their distinctive colors. They’ve also been linked to many health benefits.
Several animal studies have demonstrated that whole cranberries and blueberries, as well as their extracts or juices, can help keep the liver healthy (16Trusted Source, 17Trusted Source).
Consuming these fruits for 21 days protected the liver from damage. Additionally, blueberries helped increase immune cell response and antioxidant enzymes (17Trusted Source).
Another study found that the types of antioxidants found commonly in blueberries slowed the development of lesions and fibrosis, which is the development of scar tissue, in the livers of rats (18Trusted Source).
What’s more, blueberry extract has been shown to inhibit the growth of human liver cancer cells in test-tube studies. However, more studies are needed to determine whether this effect can be replicated in humans (19Trusted Source).
Making these berries a regular part of your diet is a good way to help make sure your liver is supplied with the antioxidants it needs to stay healthy.
Berries are high in antioxidants, which help protect the liver from damage. They may even help improve its immune and antioxidant responses. Still, human studies are needed to confirm these results.
Grapes, especially red and purple grapes, contain a variety of beneficial plant compounds. The most famous one is resveratrol, which has a number of health benefits.
Many animal studies have shown that grapes and grape juice can benefit the liver.
Studies have found that they can have various benefits, including lowering inflammation, preventing damage, and increasing antioxidant levels (20Trusted Source, 21Trusted Source).
A small study in humans with NAFLD showed that supplementing with grapeseed extract for 3 months helped improve liver function (22Trusted Source).
However, since grapeseed extract is a concentrated form, you might not experience the same effects from consuming whole grapes. More studies are needed before taking grapeseed extract to promote liver health can be recommended.
Nonetheless, the wide range of evidence from animal and some human studies suggests that grapes are a very liver-friendly food.
Animal and some human studies show that grapes and grapeseed extract protect the liver from damage, increase antioxidant levels, and fight inflammation.
6. Prickly pear
Prickly pear, known scientifically as Opuntia ficus-indica, is a popular type of edible cactus. Its fruit and juice are most commonly consumed.
It has long been used in traditional medicine as a treatment for the following:
- liver disease
A 2004 study in 55 people found that the extract of this plant helped reduce symptoms of a hangover.
Participants experienced less nausea, dry mouth, and lack of appetite. They were also half as likely to experience a severe hangover if they consumed the extract before drinking alcohol, which is detoxified by the liver (23Trusted Source).
The study concluded these effects were due to a reduction in inflammation, which often occurs after drinking alcohol.
Another study in mice found that consuming prickly pear extract helped normalize enzyme and cholesterol levels when consumed at the same time as a pesticide known to be harmful to the liver. Subsequent studies observed similar results (24Trusted Source).
A more recent study in rats sought to determine the effectiveness of prickly pear juice, rather than its extract, at combating the negative effects of alcohol.
This study found that the juice helped decrease the amount of oxidative damage and injury to the liver after alcohol consumption and keep antioxidant and inflammation levels stable (25Trusted Source).
More human studies are needed, especially using prickly pear fruit and juice, rather than extract. Nonetheless, the studies thus far have demonstrated that prickly pear has positive effects on the liver.
Prickly pear fruit and juice may help with hangover symptoms by reducing inflammation. They may also help protect the liver from damage caused by alcohol consumption.
7. Beetroot juice
Beetroot juice is a source of nitrates and antioxidants called betalains, which may benefit heart health and reduce oxidative damage and inflammation (26Trusted Source).
It’s reasonable to assume that eating beets themselves would have similar health effects. However, most studies use beetroot juice. You can juice beets yourself or buy beetroot juice from the store or online.
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Several rat studies have shown that beetroot juice helps reduce oxidative damage and inflammation in the liver, as well as increase natural detoxification enzymes.
While animal studies look promising, similar studies have not been conducted in humans.
Other beneficial health effects of beetroot juice have been observed in animal studies and replicated in human studies. However, more studies are needed to confirm the benefits of beetroot juice on liver health in humans.
Beetroot juice helps protect the liver from oxidative damage and inflammation, all while increasing its natural detoxification enzymes. However, human studies are needed.
8. Cruciferous vegetables
Cruciferous vegetables like Brussels sprouts, broccoli, and mustard greens are known for their high fiber content and distinctive taste. They’re also high in beneficial plant compounds.
Animal studies have shown Brussels sprouts and broccoli sprout extract help increase levels of detoxification enzymes and protect the liver from damage (30Trusted Source, 31Trusted Source).
A study in human liver cells found that this effect remained even when Brussels sprouts were cooked (30Trusted Source, 31Trusted Source).
A 2016 study found that mice fed broccoli developed fewer tumors or fatty liver disease than their counterparts in the control group (32Trusted Source).
Human studies are limited. But so far, cruciferous vegetables look promising as a beneficial food for liver health.
Try lightly roasting them with garlic and lemon juice or balsamic vinegar to turn them into a tasty and healthy dish.
Cruciferous vegetables like broccoli and Brussels sprouts may help increase the liver’s natural detoxification enzymes, protect it from damage, and improve blood levels of liver enzymes.
Nuts are high in fats, nutrients like the antioxidant vitamin E, and beneficial plant compounds.
This composition is responsible for several health benefits, especially for heart health, but also potentially for the liver (33Trusted Source).
A 2019 study found a diet higher in nuts to be associated with a decreased risk of nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (33Trusted Source).
What’s more, a second observational study found that men who ate larger amounts of nuts and seeds had a lower risk of developing NAFLD than men who ate smaller amounts of nuts and seeds (34Trusted Source).
While more high quality studies are needed, preliminary data points to nuts being an important food group for liver health.
Nut intake has been associated with improved liver enzyme levels in people with NAFLD. Conversely, low nut intake has been associated with a higher risk of developing the disease.
Fatty fish contain omega-3 fatty acids, which are healthy fats that help reduce inflammation and have been associated with a lower risk of heart disease.
A 2016 analysis found that omega-3 fatty acids helped lower liver fat and triglycerides in those with nonalcoholic fatty liver disease or nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (35Trusted Source).
While consuming omega-3-rich fatty fish appears to be beneficial for your liver, adding more omega-3 fats to your diet is not the only thing to consider.
The ratio of omega-3 fats to omega-6 fats is also important.
Most Americans exceed the intake recommendations for omega-6 fats, which are found in many plant oils. An omega-6 to omega-3 ratio that’s too high can promote the development of liver disease (36Trusted Source).
Therefore, it’s a good idea to reduce your intake of omega-6 fats, too.
Eating omega-3-rich fatty fish has many benefits for the liver. However, it’s just as important to keep your omega-6 to omega-3 ratio in check.
11. Olive oil
Olive oil is considered a healthy fat because of its many health benefits, including positive effects on heart and metabolic health.
However, it also has positive effects on the liver (37Trusted Source).
One small study including 11 people with NAFLD found that consuming 1 teaspoon (6.5 mL) of olive oil per day improved liver enzyme and fat levels.
It also raised levels of a protein associated with positive metabolic effects (38Trusted Source).
The participants also had less fat accumulation and better blood flow in the liver.
Several more recent studies have found similar effects of olive oil consumption in humans, including less fat accumulation in the liver, improved insulin sensitivity, and improved blood levels of liver enzymes (39Trusted Source, 40Trusted Source).
Fat accumulation in the liver is part of the first stage of liver disease. Therefore, olive oil’s positive effects on liver fat, as well as other aspects of health, make it a valuable part of a healthy diet.
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Studies show that olive oil consumption helps decrease the levels of fat in the liver, increase blood flow, and improve liver enzyme levels.
The bottom line
Your liver is an important organ with many essential functions, and it’s recommended that you do what you can to protect it.
The foods listed above have demonstrated beneficial effects on the liver. These benefits include the following:
- a lowered risk of liver disease and cancer
- higher antioxidant and detoxification enzyme levels
- protection against harmful toxins
Incorporating these foods into your diet is a natural and healthy way to help keep your liver functioning at its best.
bad food for liver
Avoid when possible
- Alcohol. Alcohol can be a major cause of fatty liver disease as well as other liver diseases.
- Added sugar. Stay away from sugary foods such as candy, cookies, sodas, and fruit juices. …
- Fried foods. These are high in fat and calories.
- Added salt. …
- White bread, rice, and pasta. …
- Red meat.
You might not give it much importance, but your liver is working hard around the clock to keep you up running and healthy. Various complications and severe issues can arise when you fail to take proper care. Some of the major functions of a liver are to digest the food consumed and filter toxins from the body. Your body is made of the things you eat. You should try to consume food items that are good for a healthy life and avoid the food that can hamper its functioning or make it work harder.
Coffee, fresh fruits and vegetables, oatmeal, green tea in moderation(1-2 cups/day), berries, eggs, nuts, and grapes nourish the liver and make it healthy. But do you know the foods bad for the liver? Keep reading to know more about such food items.
Baked Food Items
Everyone loves to eat cakes, muffins, and cookies. But do you know their adverse effects on your liver? Is sugar bad for your liver? Yes! Experts suggest that bakery products should be completely abandoned from your daily diet chart. First of all, these items are high in sugar and can lead to obesity. Secondly, bakery items can also lead to higher triglyceride levels in the body, due to their fat content, that can lead to various liver diseases. Also, the primary ingredient used in these products is refined white flour(maida). White flour is hard to digest and also gives rise to fat accumulation in the liver.
Aerated/fizzy drinks (soda/ cola etc)
It is okay to consume a small amount of aerated drink occasionally, but its regular consumption can start damaging your liver and could lead to the development of various liver complications. Apart from this, excess soda consumption is also a major cause of weight gain and obesity in people. And obesity can affect your liver by increasing fatty accumulation in the liver( Fatty liver). Also, soda offers a deadly combination of sugar and refined carbohydrates(also called empty calories) that are detrimental to liver health.
If you are into alcohol consumption and care for your liver, this is the first thing that you need to quit immediately. The limits for alcohol as per the Western countries is 14 units/ week for both men and women spread over the entire week. The Limits for Indians is not defined, but we know that Indian livers are more sensitive than western population to the effects of alcohol. Therefore cutting out alcohol completely is ideal. What happens when you consume excess alcohol? When your liver attempts to break it down, the chemical reaction in this process can damage its cells leading to inflammation, cell death and scarring(fibrosis). That’s not all, chronic alcohol consumption can block nutrient absorption, increasing toxic effects on the liver. Excess alcohol consumption for long periods leads to Liver cirrhosis which is irreversible scarring of the liver. People who develop cirrhosis can develop complications like vomiting blood, jaundice, excess fluid accumulation in the body and also Liver cancer.
One must always refrain from consuming food items like pasta pizza biscuits and bread that are made from white flour. They lack minerals, fibre, and essential vitamins. It is essential to understand that highly refined grains convert into sugar content. This content is hard to process and end up as fat in the liver. It is one of the major causes of fatty liver diseases. You should instead opt for healthy alternatives that will help your liver to stay healthy throughout the year.
Fatty/Fast Food Items
French fries, wafers, burgers, and pizzas do no good to your liver. These food items are high in saturated fat or trans-fat content and are difficult to digest. In other words, your liver needs to work hard to process these food items. The high saturated fats can give rise to inflammation over time and eventually converts into cirrhosis. Saturated fats can also raise bad cholesterol and decrease the good cholesterol level in the body and also increase the risk of heart disease, strokes in addition to fatty liver.
Food Items Rich in Salt
Salt was never easy on your liver. You must take every possible measure to cut your salt intake to maintain the health of the liver. Excess salt intake can lead to water retention in the body. You must avoid the consumption of canned soups and processed food items that are rich in sodium content. Avoid packaged savoury snacks like chips, mixtures, salty biscuits etc as they are rich in saturated fat and salt. Processed cheese is bad for your liver as it comes under the category of processed foods and has high sodium content and saturated fats. Excess consumption can lead to fatty liver diseases, plus obesity.
Red meat may be high in protein, but digesting it is a taxing job for your liver. Breaking down proteins is not easy for the liver and can lead to various liver-related issues. Also, excess protein build-up in the liver can lead to fatty liver diseases that can have adverse effects on the brain and kidney. Egg whites are good for your liver, but over-consumption can lead to digestion issues and the yellow yolk is a source of bad cholesterol.
These are the foods that are bad for the kidneys and liver. Consuming everything in a limit is still fine, but the moment you cross this limit, you are risking the health of your liver. Consuming large amounts of fructose-rich fruits like raisins, dry fruits can result in inflammation and fatty liver. This is because the sugar present in fruits, known as fructose, can cause abnormal amounts of fat in the blood when consumed in large amounts. Bananas are not bad for the liver, but try to limit them to 1-2/ day and not beyond that as the fructose in them can lead to fatty liver diseases.