The liver is one of the most important organs in the body, and one of the least underappreciated by the majority of people. Your liver performs over 500 tasks for you every single day. Your liver filters out toxins and neutralizes them so that they don’t enter your bloodstream. It produces amino acids and nutrients that your body needs. It helps you break down the fats in foods that you eat, and so much more.
In this article, we are going to discuss some of the best foods for liver health so you can take care of this important organ.
A Note on Liver Toxicity
Before going into the best foods for liver health, let’s take a look at the foods and substances that can harm your liver so you can know what to avoid. Cutting these out of your life, or at least minimizing your frequency of consumption, can make a major difference in your liver health.
Your liver is pretty good at healing itself when it is no longer obstructed by toxins, especially with the support of foods good for liver regeneration. In fact, your liver is the only organ in your body that can completely rebuild itself, growing back to a normal size even after up to 90% of it has been removed.
To support your liver health, aim to remove or limit these foods and substances from your diet:
- Fatty foods (French fries, burgers)
- Fried foods
- Foods high in sugar
- Processed foods
- Foods with added chemicals and preservatives
- Foods grown with pesticides
Best Foods for Liver Health
Now that we’ve covered the worst foods for liver health, let’s take a look at some of the best foods for liver health including the best foods for liver detox and the best foods for liver regeneration.
When it comes to foods good for liver health, berries are among the very best. Berries, especially dark colored berries like blueberries, raspberries, and cranberries — contain antioxidants called polyphenols, which may help protect the liver from damage. They may also help improve the immune response of the liver.
Strawberries contain a substance called ellagic acid, a compound that has been shown to help the liver break down or remove some toxic substances and carcinogens from the blood. Strawberries also contain one of the highest levels of Vitamin C of any fruit with 260 micrograms per gram of fruit. This important vitamin is also a powerful antioxidant that helps flush fats from the liver.
Raspberries are similar to strawberries in that they have high vitamin C and ellagic acid content, but raspberries also contain ketones, which are structurally similar to capsacin in red peppers and zingerone in ginger. Studies have shown that ketones can help prevent obesity and fatty liver.
Blueberries are among the most antioxidant rich foods in nature. They contain a pigment called anthocyanin that is a particularly powerful antioxidant. Antioxidants work by countering free radicals, which are harmful compounds that can contribute to oxidative stress and disease.
Berries help inhibit inflammation and prevent liver cell damage, making them among the best foods for protecting liver health.
Broccoli is one of the best foods for liver detox, and for liver health overall. Cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, kale and Brussels sprouts, have a high fiber content and are rich in beneficial plant compounds. Studies have shown that broccoli also contains enzymes that can help to detoxify and protect the liver by increasing the liver’s natural detoxification enzymes and improving blood levels of liver enzymes.
Studies on mice with fatty liver disease have found that those fed broccoli developed fewer tumors. While more human studies are needed, the results are promising.
Fiber also helps protect your liver from inflammation, helping your liver function better. Therefore, high fiber foods like broccoli are great to include in your diet if you are looking to improve liver health.
Coffee has many properties that make it a liver-supporting beverage. Studies on coffee have foud that it helps lower the risk of liver scarring, or cirrhosis. It also appears to reduce inflammation in the liver and protect the liver from diseases like fatty liver disease. Interestingly, drinking coffee is even associated with a lower risk of death in people that suffer from liver diseases.
Coffee helps prevent the buildup of fat in the liver, which is a major marker of liver disease. It also increases the levels of glutathione in the liver, an antioxidant that’s been shown to protect liver health.
Green tea is incredibly healthy for the liver, especially pure, ceremonial grade matcha. Studies have found that green tea improves blood markers of liver health.
Green tea is high in antioxidants. It is particularly high in an antioxidant called epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG). This antioxidant helps prevent cell damage and reduces inflammation.
Studies in people with nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) found that drinking green tea improves liver enzyme levels and may also help reduce oxidative stress and fat deposits in the liver.
While green tea has proven to be beneficial for the liver, there have been some reports of people using green tea extract that have suffered liver damage. This may not be a result of the extract itself, but could be caused by the method of extraction, the amount taken, the quality of the extract, other foods that were consumed at the time, and many other factors. Still, it is recommended that those concerned with liver health use whole green tea instead of green tea extract.
Almonds are another great liver-supporting food because they are high in vitamin E, which is an important vitamin that also acts as an antioxidant, helping to protect the liver from cell damage. Research on vitamin E suggests that it may protect the liver from developing nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD).
According to a study published in the National Library of Medicine: “In addition to the role of being an antioxidant, some studies have also proposed that vitamin E improves the liver integrity by down-regulating hepatic cluster of differentiation 36 protein (CD36)—a membrane transporter responsible for the uptake of fatty acids into the liver.”
Because of these properties, nuts and seeds are some of the best foods good for liver regeneration as they contain plenty of vitamin E. Almonds in particular are high in vitamin E, making them one of the top foods good for liver repair and overall liver health.
Spinach is another great liver cleansing food. Spinach, as well as many other leafy greens, contain an antioxidant called glutathione. Glutathione has been referred to as “the body’s master antioxidant,” and is critical for preventing cell damage and reducing oxidative stress in the liver.
According to research, “Glutathione plays crucial roles in the detoxification and antioxidant systems of cells and has been used to treat acute poisoning and chronic liver diseases.”
Spinach also contains nitrate, a compound that may protect against nonalcoholic fatty liver disease. Nitrates help to activate liver detoxification pathways and protect the liver from cell damage.
- Dandelion Root
Once thought of only as a pesky weed, dandelions are finally getting the recognition they deserve as being one of nature’s healthiest foods. Dandelion is also an amazing food for liver health.
The polysaccharides in dandelion help reduce stress on the liver and support its ability to produce bile. Bile is a substance that your liver makes which helps with digestion, particularly the digestion of fats. Dandelion also help your liver better filter potentially harmful chemicals from your food.
Dandelion is a good source of Vitamin C, which is an antioxidant important for protecting the liver from oxidative stress and cell damage.
Dandelion greens also contain choline, a micronutrient that supports healthy liver function by influencing several liver processes, including the metabolism of fats and the circulation of bile.
Dandelion greens can be eaten in salads, juiced, or added to smoothies, while dandelion root is commonly consumed as an herbal tea.
Remember to Drink Plenty of Water
While not a “food” water is essential for health, including the health of our liver. Drinking a lot of water is essential for your liver's detoxification. It removes the toxins and flushes the liver tissues. The liver is especially affected when the body is dehydrated, so make sure to drink plenty of water to improve liver health in addition to including more of the foods mentioned above.
The U.S. National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine determined that an adequate daily fluid intake is: About 15.5 cups (3.7 liters) of fluids a day for men. About 11.5 cups (2.7 liters) of fluids a day for women.
Your liver does so much for your body each day. You can thank your liver and give back to it by avoiding toxic foods and substances and by including some more of these liver-supporting foods in your daily diet.