Fatty Liver Diet: What to Eat, What to Avoid & Meal Plan

A fatty liver diet prioritizes fresh fruit and vegetables in their natural form, as well as high-fiber grains. You should reduce your intake of high-sugar foods (like soft drinks and juices), carbohydrates (like white bread, white pasta and white rice) and fatty foods (like margarine and fried food).

The fatty liver diet ai aimed at reducing fat in the body, and relieving symptoms associated with this condition, such as low appetite, pain on the right side of the belly and headaches. This type of diet can also help to prevent complications, like cirrhosis. 

Fatty liver, also known as hepatic steatosis, is usually caused by poor eating habits, a sedentary lifestyle or obesity. Fatty liver can also develop as a result of metabolic syndrome, which is when you have one or more associated conditions, such as diabetes, high cholesterol and high blood pressure. Learn more about the symptoms of fatty liver and how they present.

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What to eat

Foods that should be prioritized in the diet for fatty liver are:

  • Fresh and natural fruits, such as apples, pears, pineapples, peaches, papaya, strawberries, kiwi, tangerines, oranges, soursop, lemons and plums;
  • Fresh vegetables, such as zucchini, arugula, spinach, eggplant, lettuce, tomato, onion, carrot and watercress;
  • Legumes, such as beans, lentils and chickpeas;
  • Whole grains, such as brown rice, whole grain bread, whole grain pasta, quinoa, wild or black rice and rolled oats;
  • Low-fat proteins, such as eggs, tofu, lean red meat, skinless chicken and turkey, with a greater preference for fish;
  • Milk and low-fat dairy products, such as skim milk and yogurt, and white cheese, like ricotta or cottage

A fatty liver diet should prioritize by fresh and natural foods, with a reduction processed foods.

Food to consume in moderation

Some foods, despite containing fats, can be consumed in moderation and in small portions in cases of fatty liver. These include olive oil, avocado, coconut, peanuts, chestnuts, walnuts and fish that is rich in omega-3, such as salmon and sardines.

These foods are rich in monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fat, and contain compounds with antioxidant properties as well as fiber, which is why they should not be completely eliminated from the diet.

Foods to avoid

Foods that should be avoided when treating fatty liver are:

  • High-fat foods, such as yellow cheeses, cottage cheese, bacon, lamb, beef sirloin, chicken skin, pork, chocolate, butter and margarine;
  • Processed grains, such as white rice, white pasta, white bread and oat flour;
  • High-sugar foods, such as cookies, ice cream, sweets in syrup, jellies and fruit or processed juices, such as boxed, bottled or powdered juices;
  • Processed foods, such as ready-made sauces, instant noodles, fast food, sliced bread and frozen foods;
  • Cold-cut meats, such as sliced ham, turkey breast, sausage, mortadella, salami, sausage and loin;
  • Fried food;
  • Fast food and frozen foods, such as nuggets, fries, hamburgers, lasagna and pizza.

It is also essential to stop drinking alcoholic beverages, such as beer and wine, as alcohol can overload the liver, making treatment difficult.

3-day meal plan

The following table provides an example of a 3-day menu for liver fat:

Meals Day 1 Day 2 Day 3
Breakfast 1 slices of whole wheat bread + 2 slices of ricotta cheese + 1 cup of peppermint tea 1 skim yogurt + 1 tablespoon of oats  + 5 strawberries 2 scrambled eggs (made with olive oil) + half a slice of whole grain bread + 1 tangerine
Morning snack 1 medium peach + 3 Brazil nuts 1 orange + 1 handful of unsalted, toasted peanuts 1 banana + 3 walnuts
Lunch/Dinner 120 g of grilled chicken breast + 3 tablespoons of whole grain rice + 1 small ladle of beans cooked beans + 1 side plate of salad made with lettuce, carrot, and spinach, seasoned with lemon juice and 1 tablespoon of olive oil  + 1 apple

1 grilled fish fillet + 3 tablespoons of pumpkin puree  + 3 tablespoons of beetroot salad with boiled carrot, seasoned with lemon juice and oregano + 1 medium slice of melon

4 tablespoons of beef stew with sweet potato, broccoli and carrots + salad with tomatoes, lettuce and onion, seasoned with lemon juice and 1 teaspoon of olive oil + 1 fresh plum

Afternoon snack 2 whole-grain corn tortillas with 1 tablespoon of humus  Half a papaya with 1 tablespoon of chia seeds 1 skim yogurt with 1 teaspoon of honey + 1 tablespoon of pumpkin seeds

This meal plan is just a sample, as your diet can vary on your health history and individual goals. For an optimal meal plan, you are advised to consult a registered dietitian for assessment. 

Other recommendations

When maintaining a fatty liver diet, it is also important to drink plenty of water throughout the day. You should aim for a minimum of 2 liters per day. A great way to increase water intake is by drinking teas with liver-protective properties, like boldo tea, artichoke tea and green tea. These can be very hydrating and naturally contain properties that promote optimal liver functioning. 

Furthermore, it is important to sleep 7 to 9 hours a day and to exercise regularly. These healthy habits help with energy metabolism and hormone regulation, which are directly related to reducing liver fat.