The liver is one of the largest organs in the body, with only the skin being bigger. Located between the stomach and the diaphragm, it can weigh up to 3 pounds for adults.
The liver performs so many functions in the body. It produces the bile that is used to digest all the food we eat.
WebMD calls it a nutrient center because this is where all the nutrients that we take go and then transformed into forms that your body can now use.
It also filters the body of toxins, making sure that what is bad for your body is expelled as waste.
Knowing all these, that's why it is important that we keep our livers healthy, and this includes eating foods good for the liver.
What is the role of food in liver health? By eating the right kind of diet, you are ensuring that your liver is able to not only function well but also protect it from diseases.
For example, if your diet is composed of foods that are high in saturated fat, sugar, etc, the liver will have a harder time with its job. Eventually, the burden will be too much and it can lead to your liver being inflamed.
One of the most common diseases affecting the liver is fatty liver disease. While most people think this is associated with those that drink too much alcohol, more and more people are actually getting this disease due to the diet that they eat.
According to the American Liver Foundation, there are about 100 million people in the US who have Nonalcoholic Fatty Liver Disease. This disease even targets children! It's important to address as it can lead to even more serious conditions.
It's important to steer clear of fats when you are trying to keep your liver healthy. This means staying away from fried and fatty foods and looking for foods that are best for liver health.
The good thing is that there are many foods that you can eat that are good for your liver. Here are some of the best and easy to find ingredients that you need to start eating today to ensure liver health.
Table of Contents
Best Foods for Liver Health
- Green Tea
- Low-fat dairy
- Nuts and seeds
Here's more good news for those who like to start their day with a cup of coffee. It's great as a protection against not just fatty liver but even chronic liver disease!
This may be because coffee helps to prevent fat and collagen from accumulating in the body. Coffee also helps with inflammation, due to its high levels of antioxidants.
It's not just your liver but your whole body will thank you if you drink coffee regularly.
And there are so many varieties of coffee that you can enjoy too! Here's a look at the Best Coffee Growing Regions, plus an explanation of what taste you can expect from each.
If you are not a fan of coffee, the good news is that there is another beverage you can have that is good for your liver. Green tea can help you lose weight, make your liver healthier, especially for those who drink at least five cups of it every day.
Just like coffee, people who drink green tea regularly have less risk of developing liver cancer. It can even help you sleep better and lower your cholesterol.
Aside from green tea, you can also try black tea for variety. Just make sure to get quality extracts as not all are made the same.
An ingredient that makes its way to many dishes, garlic is one of the best foods for liver function.
It has selenium, which is needed for a healthy liver. It helps the liver in its job to remove toxins from the body. Aside from that, selenium can also help with boosting the liver's antioxidant levels.
Here's a great Garlicky Spaghetti that you can prepare for dinner this weekend.
One of the best types of food for your liver is those that are filled with fiber, something oatmeal has in abundance. That is because fibrous foods help the liver to work at the best level.
Aside from coffee for breakfast, a bowl of oatmeal will also go a long way in ensuring that you are healthy. But you should also scrutinize what you buy.
Instead of the prepackaged oatmeals, stick to whole oats instead. The former might have additives like sugar, which is not good for your liver.
Grapefruit and Grapes
It's very important to have a balanced diet if you are aiming for a healthy lifestyle. Fruits should always be a part of your meals. Grapes and grapefruit, in particular, are rich in antioxidants.
Antioxidants present so many benefits to us. They fight the free radicals in our bodies, reducing the risk of many diseases, including serious ones like cancer and heart disease.
Other fruits that are good for your liver include bananas and persimmons.
Vegetables are always a must when it comes to a healthy diet. Greens, more particularly cruciferous vegetables like broccoli are great for liver function.
Both broccoli and brussel sprouts help with the detoxification process and also protects the liver from suffering damage. The former can also prevent too much build-up of fat.
Greens can be eaten as a salad or you can add them to your stir-fries and main dishes. You can even make smoothies for days when you don't have time to cook breakfast. Just blend your chosen greens, add a bit of fruit for natural sweetness and you can have breakfast on the go.
Polyphenols, which are found in blueberries are said to protect the liver from damage, as seen in studies where participants ate them regularly for a period of three to four weeks.
Grab a handful of fresh blueberries for times when you are looking for a snack. If you have more time in your hands, incorporate them into your meals. They can be topped with your oatmeal or baked into pies and tarts.
If you are looking for a protein source that is not meat, you can include tofu in your diet. They are not high in fat which is also perfect if you want to maintain weight.
A study has also shown that tofu has hepatoprotective properties that can prevent damage to the liver.
Not many people know how to prepare tofu, and many are also not interested thinking it will not taste good. But this is a very versatile ingredient that can prove to be delicious if you know how to prepare it right.
Make sure you know which type to use, tofu desserts usually ask for soft tofu while savory dishes, such as Orange-teriyaki Tofu, would require the firm kind.
Another vegetable that is good for your liver is artichokes. They are packed with nutrients, including Vitamins C, B6, and antioxidants. If you eat one artichoke a day, you are already getting more than a quarter of your recommended daily intake of fiber.
It can help lower your bad cholesterol, which is one of the causes of having a fatty liver. Not only that, it helps with the production of bile, so that your liver can function at an optimum level in ridding your body of toxins.
It might seem intimidating to cook artichokes as there are many parts of it that need to be removed. The parts of the artichoke that is edible include the heart and the outer leaves.
You can create a dip using artichokes, spinach, and low-fat cream cheese for your next movie night. Steaming and baking them are also other ways you can enjoy artichokes.
Aside from being tasty, salmon is really good for you too. The omega-3 in salmon benefits not only the liver but your whole body.
Salmon is very versatile too and can be used in a variety of dishes. You can enjoy it on its own or add a variety of spices that pairs perfectly well with it.
If you are not a fan of salmon, any other fatty fish would also suffice.
If you are getting tired of having oatmeal for breakfast, then you can switch to yogurt. It is just as healthy and good for your liver because of the probiotics it contains.
But you cannot just grab any yogurt off the shelf. Some variants have too much sugar which is definitely not good for your liver. Look for those that have no added sugar on them. If you are unsure and you don't want to read the content, just grab a Greek yogurt.
If you are the type who likes to cook, you can even make your own yogurt at home, such as this Sous Vide Citrus Yogurt.
If you are a fan of cheese, milk, or other types of dairy, don't worry, you can still have them. But you will need to get the low-fat variety because there is a lot of fat in the regular variants.
Nuts and seeds
For snacks, you want to lean more toward healthy fats, like nuts and seeds. A handful a day is good for your liver. This can also help curb your appetite and allow you to lose or maintain a healthy weight.
Studies have shown that people who regularly ate nuts shown remarkable improvement in their liver enzymes.
Almonds are also rich in vitamin E, which means they can protect you from fatty liver disease. Aside from snacking on them, you can add them to your salad greens for added texture.
Other Tips for Keeping Your Liver Healthy
We know how important your diet is when it comes to keeping your liver healthy. But aside from that, there are still many things you can do to ensure this. Here are more practical tips you can follow.
Maintain a healthy weight
One thing that you must watch out for if you are concerned about your liver is your weight. Most people diagnosed with non-alcoholic fatty liver disease are told to lose weight first and foremost.
When people become overweight or obese, they are at a higher risk not just for liver disease but so many other ones too. Check your BMI to see that you are keeping a healthy weight so that your organs are not overburdened.
Another thing that you should do is to exercise. This is not just something you should do if you are losing weight. Regardless of how much you weigh, exercise is important.
Even people with the ideal weight can have fatty liver, did you know that? That is because they may still have high concentrations of triglycerides or bad cholesterol. With exercise, you can burn this bad cholesterol and reduce the fat that may be surrounding your liver.
If you are not used to exercising, you can start gradually. Go for short walks or hikes, or low-impact exercises at the beginning. Once your body can tolerate longer and harder exercises, you can push yourself further.
Aim to exercise at least three times a week, this is not only good for the liver but the heart as well.
Limit your alcohol intake
Many people suffer from liver disease because of drinking too much alcohol. This can be something as simple as fatty liver disease, but it can eventually lead to cirrhosis, which is dangerous.
While we are not saying that you should completely avoid it, it is important to drink moderately. For women, one drink a day would suffice, while men can have up to two.
Get enough sleep
We cannot reiterate just how important it is to have adequate and quality sleep. Your body needs sleep because it is during this time that your body repairs itself.
People who have proper sleep have less risk of having medical conditions like heart disease and diabetes. They are also less stressed and more alert throughout the day.