The 10 Best Foods for Your Liver
By Greg Bastin • January 1, 2020
The liver performs many important functions in your body. Making sure it’s working at peak potential is a big part of staying healthy.
A healthy diet is the best tool to keep your liver healthy.
Our bodies are more than just the sum of their parts.
Every system and structure relies on a complex interaction between all the others. And the most important thing we can do to enable that is to fuel them correctly.
Everything we eat has an effect on our organs, especially the digestive organs.
As one of those organs, the liver has many functions. Besides producing a variety of enzymes and synthesizing proteins, it plays a major role in metabolism. That’s why it’s vitally important to include food in your diet that protects the liver.
Your Body Needs Your Liver To Function Well
The liver is among the busiest organs in the human body. It’s responsible for over 500 distinct functions. It’s technically a part of the digestive system, but its functions span several other systems as well.
A unique feature of the liver is that it regenerates. No other organ can manage that. Liver cells are special because they get exposed to so many chemicals. Many of those chemicals cause cell damage or induce cell death. As the main agent of detoxification, if the liver didn’t regenerate it wouldn’t last very long.
Besides aiding in the breakdown of fats, carbs, and proteins, the liver acts as a storage site. When glucose is present at high enough levels in the blood, the liver stores some of it as glycogen.
Glycogen is a polysaccharide version of glucose that’s easier to store. When we engage in physical activity, the liver releases glycogen to make muscle fuel.
It also produces the most abundant protein in our bloodstream, albumin. Albumin’s role is to bind to many hormones and fatty acids and transport them through the bloodstream. Many medications also rely on albumin to be effective.
The list goes on and on. Liver cells are also involved in immunity, hormone synthesis, and vitamin and mineral storage.
So, it’s beyond question that a liver healthy diet is a big part of overall health. The liver is vulnerable to many diseases that a poor diet and sedentary lifestyle can bring on.
10 Foods for a Healthy Liver
The best thing you can do to keep your liver healthy is committing to the right kind of diet. You should obviously minimize some things, such as fried foods. But also increase your intake of liver-friendly foods.
Many foods are great for improving liver function. And there are some exceptional cases in every food group. Below, you’ll find a variety of options you can add to your diet.
1 - Grapefruit
Grapefruit is a superfood by all accounts and it has major benefits for liver health. The substances in grapefruit that help the liver are naringenin and naringin. Several studies show how these antioxidants protect the liver.
In animal studies, they reduced the development of hepatic fibrosis, a serious liver disease. That result was likely due to their anti-inflammatory effects. Naringin also decreased the amount of liver fat in mice. And it increased the amount of fat-burning liver enzyme.
Reducing fat in the liver is one of the best ways of keeping it healthy.
2 - Oatmeal
Oatmeal, in all its forms, is a very healthy carbohydrate. It’s beneficial for most people simply as a source of fiber but it has special benefits for the liver. Oats have high levels of beta-glucans.
Beta-glucans are a type of fiber from the cell walls of certain microorganisms.
A study in 2017 found them to be very beneficial for the immune system and liver. In mice, even small amounts of beta-glucans reduced the fat in the liver.
If you want to add oats to your diet, the less processed they are, the better. Steel-cut, old-fashioned, or whole oats have the best nutritional values.
3 - Garlic
Garlic and many other bulbous plants contain allicin, a powerful antioxidant that aids the liver in many ways.
Garlic also has selenium, which acts as a booster for other antioxidants. Selenium may also play a role in the detoxifying action of the liver. It’s not uncommon for patients of liver disease to need selenium supplements.
In a 2016 study, selenium consumption also showed a link to lower body fat in people with nonalcoholic fatty liver disease.
4 - Blueberries and Cranberries
Both of these berries are antioxidant powerhouses that produce a huge array of benefits.
For starters, they prevented liver damage in studies done on mice. Both whole berries and their juices were effective in protecting the liver.
Also, in animal studies, the effects of the antioxidants slowed the onset of fibrosis in rats. And, blueberry extract even slowed the growth of liver cancer cells.
5 - Cruciferous Vegetables
Plant based foods, in general, have many benefits to humans. Cruciferous vegetables are among the most nutritionally dense of those foods.
Broccoli, Brussels sprouts, and kale are just a few examples. They have loads of vitamins, minerals, and fiber.
A study in adult men saw an improvement in liver enzyme levels from consuming broccoli sprouts. In the same study, broccoli sprouts protected rat’s livers from failing.
Brussels sprouts also have a beneficial effect on liver enzymes. This helps the liver detoxify food.
6 - Nuts
Nuts come in all shapes and sizes. They’re very different in composition, but they’re all beneficial to the liver.
Most nuts have large doses of vitamin E. As a powerful antioxidant, it contributes to overall organ health. And they’re also sources of healthy fats and protein.
One study on nut consumption is especially telling. It compared men who ate few nuts with men who ate large amounts. Those that ate more maintained healthier livers.
Another study saw some improvement in fatty liver disease from eating nuts. More studies will eventually explore these benefits. But there is enough evidence to strongly suggest a positive link between nuts and liver health.
7 - Olive Oil
We’ve been aware of olive oil’s many benefits for a long time. Adding it to a complete diet has positive outcomes for the whole body. Its effects on the liver are also especially evident in studies.
A relatively small study found something impressive. Consuming only one teaspoon of the oil every day increased liver enzyme levels. Less fat and better blood flow to the liver were additional benefits as well.
Olive oil reduces the accumulation of liver fat. As fat accumulation is such a large component of liver problems, it’s worth adding to your diet.
Virgin olive oil is the most complete, nutritionally. And the less heat it’s exposed to, the more nutrients it retains.
8 - Fatty Fish
Fish’s big claim to fame is omega-3 fatty acids. These healthy fats are anti-inflammatory and improve cardiovascular function. They also have a lot of beneficial effects on the liver.
Like with olive oil, omega-3s seem to prevent fat from building up in the liver. They also increase liver enzyme levels and improve insulin resistance.
A balanced ratio of omega-3 to omega-6 fatty acids is crucial. Most people on western diets have excessive amounts of omega-6 acids, so it’s a good idea to get more omega-3s.
9 - Avocados and Beets
In a very broad study from 2015, a large variety of plant foods correlated with liver benefits.
Avocados, for instance, are rich in healthy fats. Research also suggests that they might protect the liver from damage.
Beets and beetroot juice are other good examples. They’re a great source of betalains. These compounds reduce oxidative stress and inflammation.
Adding plant-based foods to a balanced diet is a surefire way to protect your liver.
10 - Coffee and Tea
There have been numerous studies linking coffee and tea with liver health. Coffee is extremely protective for the liver. Even for people that suffer from liver disease.
Teas, and in particular green tea, is very well-researched. Japanese studies linked green tea with improved markers of overall liver health. The benefits came from drinking 5-10 cups of green tea per day.
Specialty tea blends are phenomenal for promoting liver health. Liver detox teas combine the best, proven promoters of liver health. It’s a great way to support your liver and your overall health.
Sallee Jones, a breast cancer patient, swears by tea blends to improve her liver function. After using it for only a month, her blood tests showed a very healthy liver.
Keep Your Liver Happy
Keeping your liver happy will go a long way toward overall health. It’s one of your busiest organs with hundreds of functions.
And now you know which foods to eat to make it as strong as possible.
If you have special needs or just want to get serious about your liver health, we’ve got just the thing.
Opportuniteas liver detox tea is specially designed to incorporate some of the most powerful liver boosters. It contains 5 powerful superfoods in every scoop to support your liver and lift your energy.
References11 - https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/11-foods-for-your-liver#section2