Foods that are good for the liver tend to be higher in vitamin C, vitamin E, omega-3, carotenes or flavonoids. Common examples include artichoke, salmon, Brazilian nuts, garlic and broccoli. These foods have antioxidant, antinflammatory and hepatoprotective action that contribute to optimal liver functioning. They also prevent accumulation of fat within the liver.
These foods can be incorporated into your day-to-date diet. It is also essential to ensure adequate water intake to promote optimal liver functioning. You should aim for 1.5 to 2 L of water per day.
Ideally, you should discuss your diet with your family doctor or a registered dietitian, who can help you to develop a balanced eating plan that addresses your health needs and goals.
Foods good for the liver
Some foods that promote optimal liver health include:
Artichokes are rich in antioxidants, like cynarin and silymarin, which help to protect the liver from damage caused by free radicals. These antioxidants also increase bile production, reduce cholesterol production and stimulate liver cell growth.
A great way to consume artichokes is through tea form. You can prepare this tea by first boiling a liter of water. Remove the pot from heat and add 1 teaspoon (about 5 to 6 g) of dried artichoke leaves to the water. Allow the leaves to soak for 5 to 10 minutes, then strain and drink up to 3 cups per day.
2. Beet juice
Beet juice s a great option for promoting liver health. It is rich in nitrates and antioxidants, like betalains which help to reduce oxidative damage caused by inflammation. It also reduces inflammation within liver cells.
Beet juice also acts by increasing the production of liver enzymes that help to detox the body.
Broccoli is rich in kaempferol, which is a flavonoid with potent anti-inflammatory action. This flavonoid protects the liver from conditions like fatty liver, hepatitis or cirrhosis, as it reduces the substances responsible for liver inflammation.
Broccoli is also rich in fiber, which reduces the absorption of fat in the intestines. This can help to regulate levels of "bad" cholesterol (or LDL), as well as produce enzymes that detox the body.
Other vegetables with great amounts of kaempferol include brussel sprouts, cabbage and kale.
Salmon is another great option for maintaining liver health. It is rich in omega-3, especially DHA, which is a type of healthy fat with antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. DHA can protect the liver by preventing high levels of cholesterol and triglycerides that can cause fatty liver.
A good way to consume salmon is to boil it or grill it with the skin on, as the skin contains the most concentrated amounts of omega-3 fats. You should ideally consume it 3 times per week.
Other foods that are rich in omega-3 that are also good for the liver include flax seeds, chia seeds, walnuts and other fish, like tuna, sardines and herring.
Oats are rich in beta-glucans, which is a type of fiber that helps to reduce LDL cholesterol that can accumulate in the liver. Beta-glucans reduce the absorption of fat from foods, boost immune system function, and combat inflammation that can lead to fatty liver.
To obtain this health benefit, you should consume at least 3 g of beta-glucans per day, which is equivalent to about 150 g of oats. Check out our oatmeal recipes and see the other health benefits that oats can provide.
6. Purple grapes
Purple grapes contain resveratrol, mainly in their seeds. This substance is an antioxidant that reduces inflammation and prevents liver damage. Purple grapes are also rich in vitamin C, flavonoids, and anthocyanins, which also contain antioxidant properties.
A great way to consume purple grapes is to eat them whole, with the seeds. You can also incorporate it into smoothies or take it as a supplement, which is made from seed extract.
Other foods that are also great for the liver include berries, like strawberries, cherries, blueberries, raspberries, guava and blackberries, all which can be incorporated into your daily diet.
7. Brazilian nuts
Brazilian nuts are another great foods for liver health. They are rich in health fats, like omega-3, as well as vitamin E, which contains anti-inflammatory and antioxidant actions that protect the liver cells from free radical damage.
To obtain these benefits, you should eat 2 Brazilian nuts per day, at breakfast or as a snack.
8. Extra virgin olive oil
Extra virgin olive oil (EVOO) is one of the healthiest fats you can consume. It contains polyphenols, like oleocanthol, which contain anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties that help to reduce fat accumulation and improve blood flow to the liver.
To obtain these benefits, you should aim to consume about 1 teaspoon (6.5 mL) of EVOO per day.
Garlic contains allicin in its composition, which as antioxidant action and helps to reduce levels of LDL cholesterol and triglycerides. It can reduce the risk for fat accumulation in the liver, making it a great option for promoting liver health.
A great way to increase your garlic consumption and obtain these health benefits is to make a garlic infusion. Dice up a clove of garlic and add to 1 liter of water. Allow the garlic to soak for at least 10 minutes, to increase the allicin levels in the water. You can use this water to cook with.
Avocado contains many nutrients, like carotenoids, tocopherols, omega-3, vitamin C, vitamin V, vitamin C and vitamin E. It contains anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties that reduce the production of inflammatory substances in the body. These substances are often related to the development of liver disease.
In addition, some studies show that consuming avocados is positively related to weight loss, reduced BMIs, and optimal control of blood sugar, LDL cholesterol and triglyceride levels. All of these are factors for fatty liver.
Nonetheless, avocados should be consumed in moderation and in small portions. Although it contains many benefits and is rich in healthy calories, it also contains many calories and can lead to weight gain if consumed in excess.
Oranges are a great source of vitamin C, flavonoids and carotenoids. They contain anti-inflammatory properties, which help to decrease cellular damage caused by liver disease and liver inflammation.
Ideally, you should consume at least 1 raw orange per day, or 150 mL of natural orange juice.
Other fruits that are liver-friendly and rich in vitamin C are kiwi, cherries, pineapple, lemon and tangerines, which can be incorporated into your daily diet.
Coffee can promote liver health as its caffeine content is rich in antioxidants that protect the liver from disease and help to treat damage.
Some studies show that daily coffee consumption can help reduce the risk for chronic liver diseases, like cirrhosis or fibrosis and even liver cancer.
You should consume 2 to 3 cups of black coffee per day to obtain this benefit. It is important to skip the milk and sugar, as these can actually cause liver damage and contribute to the risk for diabetes. Read more about the health benefits of coffee and how to prepare it.
Coffee should not be consumed with people with an allergy to caffeine or a history of insomnia or stomach irritation.
13. Green tea
Green tea contains phenolic compounds, like epigallocatechins, which have antioxidant properties that reduce LDL and triglyceride levels in the liver. h.
A great way to consume green tea is by preparing an infusion with the leaves and drinking 2 or 3 cups per day. You can also purchase green tea bags or powdered green tea. It is important to avoid consuming this tea after your meals, as it can interfere with calcium, iron and vitamin C absorption. Learn more about the benefits of green tea and how to prepare it.
Worst foods for the liver
Foods that are bad for your liver often cause inflammation or damage on a cellular damage. Some examples include:
- Fried food
- Fatty food
- Foods that are rich in sugar
- Sauces or artificial broths
- Processed meats, like prosciutto, turkey breast slices, sausage, and bacon.
Frequent consumption of alcohol can also cause liver inflammation, which can interfere with how it functions and increase your risk for cirrhosis and hepatitis.