19 Foods That Are Good for the Liver
Want to support your body’s second-largest organ? Uncover 19 foods that are good for the liver and a perfect addition to a well-balanced diet according to studies.
To ensure our liver remains healthy, protected and highly functioning, we should adopt a diet that supports its condition to sustain and perform its 500 essential functions!
So, what foods support a healthy liver, and what foods should we avoid?
Food for a healthy liver
With our livers responsible for numerous essential functions, such as producing proteins and cholesterol while storing vitamins, minerals, and carbs, it's no surprise that our liver is closely connected with the food we eat and metabolise to maintain our overall health.
Here is a list of foods that are good for the liver with scientific sources and medical research to prove it:
In lowering systolic blood pressure and cholesterol to support our cardiovascular systems, potassium also helps to cleanse our liver. And according to a publication from the NLM, having a low serum potassium concentration or low dietary potassium intake can result in metabolic disorders linked with non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD).
Some suggestions for potassium-rich foods include the following:
Beet greens and spinach
PSRI Hospital research suggests we need 4,700 milligrams of potassium daily to help detox the liver effectively.
2. Lemon water
Including fresh lemon juice in your glasses of water doesn’t just make the flavour that bit more interesting. Squeezing a little extra lemon in water actually enhances our liver enzyme function, encourages bile production and works as an antioxidant in the form of vitamin C.
Antioxidants resist oxidative damage to the liver and can potentially protect against alcohol-induced liver injury, as shown by mice in a report published by the NLM.
Compounds contained in ginger known as “gingerols” and “shogaols” can help with inflammation and protect the liver against cellular damage.
Ginger protects the liver against alcohol damage and can have hypolipidemic and antioxidant effects. In a study published by the NLM, ginger significantly reduced alanine aminotransferase, γ-glutamyl transferase, and inflammatory cytokines, alongside insulin resistance index and hepatic steatosis.
This twelve-week study of two grams of ginger supplementation revealed beneficial effects on some NAFLD characteristics. Therefore, ginger qualifies as a genuine liver-healing food.
As another liver-healing food, turmeric aids digestion and restores blood sugar levels while supporting liver tissue and metabolism. Plus, turmeric contains effective anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and anticancer properties.
An extensive study published by the NLM shows how turmeric (curcumin) protects and treats liver diseases.
Compounds found in garlic, such as allicin, alliin and ajoene, are packed with antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties that may help protect your liver health.
A study published by the NLM showed that from 24,000 adults, the men who consumed raw garlic seven times per week had a 29% reduced risk of developing fatty liver disease.
Garlic is also rich in selenium, a natural detoxifying mineral that helps the liver by boosting antioxidant performance.
6. Cruciferous vegetables
Part of the cabbage family, cruciferous vegetables help the liver’s natural detoxifying enzymes with improved blood levels while protecting the liver from damage.
Cruciferous vegetables include some of the following:
· Brussels sprouts
· Mustard greens
· Curly kale
A high fibre content and beneficial plant compounds also support nutrient-dense leafy alternatives chard, collards and bok choy.
7. Dark leafy green vegetables
Recent research from scientists from Karolinska Institute in Sweden found that the inorganic nitrate occurring naturally in green leafy vegetables can help reduce fat in the liver.
These high-concentration inorganic nitrate foods include celery, spinach, and rocket greens.
Yes, no longer just that invasive weed that grows on our grass and in our flower beds, dandelion has become a nutritious supplement and ingredient in foods and hot beverages.
As a natural diuretic, dandelion can help the body eliminate toxins from the system, while polysaccharides can reduce stress on the liver and support bile production.
Dandelion can also strengthen the immune system, balance blood sugar levels, relieve heartburn and soothe digestion. So, next time you whip up a salad, soup, or tea, try and make room for some dandelion.
By name and nature, it makes sense that eating liver will support our own with rich vitamins, folic acid, choline, iron, copper, zinc, chromium and CoQ10 properties. Yes, eating liver is one of the most nutrient-dense foods we can consume while supporting and protecting our own.
With antioxidants naringenin and naringin, grapefruit protects the liver and reduces inflammation. Another NLM publication revealed that naringin improves the metabolism of alcohol (in rats) and counteracts some negative alcohol effects.
The digestion of coffee causes the body to produce a chemical called “paraxanthine”. Paraxanthine is now known to help slow the growth of fibrosis scar tissue, while other studies have seen coffee lower the risk of cirrhosis in people with chronic liver disease.
12. Green/black tea
Don’t worry if you’re not a coffee drinker, there’s always a cup of tea to support your liver. One Japanese study found improved blood markers of liver health after drinking 10 cups of green tea a day.
Further studies revealed an improvement in liver enzyme levels and oxidative stress, and fat deposit reduction in the liver after drinking green tea high in antioxidants.
And it’s not just green tea. Our favourite English Breakfast brew was also shown in a study (with mice) to reverse the negative effects of a high-fat diet alongside improved blood markers on liver health.
With high-concentration antioxidant compounds, various berries are foods that are good for the liver. Berries high in anthocyanins include cranberries and blueberries.
Studies on rats showed that cranberry flavonoids and melatonin protected liver mitochondrial damage. While antioxidants found in blueberries slowed the development of lesions and fibrosis scar tissue.
Another study published by the NLM showed how eating blueberries for 21 days helped protect the liver and increase immune cell response alongside antioxidant enzymes.
14. Purple sweet potato
Another animal study published by the NLM found that purple sweet potato helped promote healthy liver function and reduce oxidative stress that damages liver cells.
15. Olive oil
Known for its metabolic and cardiovascular benefits, the healthy fat inside olive oil has various positive effects on liver health.
A report published by the NLM promoted the Mediterranean diet, rich in extra-virgin olive oil reduced NAFLD in older people. Further research suggests a teaspoon of olive oil daily improves liver enzymes and fat levels.
So often seen in our morning routine, eggs are another type of liver-healing food by being rich in essential amino acids and choline. Both amino acids and choline combine to help our livers detoxify while improving our metabolism rate.
In being high in omega-3 fatty acids, eggs also help reduce inflammation. Omega-3 fatty acids help our livers prevent excess fat build-up and maintain healthy enzyme levels.
Various nuts are other excellent foods that are good for the liver. One nut, in particular, is walnuts. Very effective in reducing fatty liver disease with high antioxidant and fatty acid content, walnuts are jammed with omega-6 and 3 fatty acids. Walnuts also contain vital polyphenol antioxidants.
The amino acid called "arginine" is also essential in removing ammonia from the body. Plus, containing glutathione means walnuts also improve our lipid profile, hepatic steatosis, and inflammation.
One study from NLM shows people who ate five to six walnuts a week had improved liver fat loss than those without much of a walnut diet. The liver fat loss in this report receives anti-inflammatory and metabolic health benefits.