Food To Protect and Strengthen Your Liver
Fun fact: The liver is the largest solid organ in the body which performs essential tasks such as removing toxins from the body's blood supply, maintaining healthy blood sugar levels, regulating blood clotting, and hundreds of other vital functions. Needless to say, caring for this powerhouse organ is essential for good health. What we consume on a daily basis plays an important role, so read on for the best food for liver health.
Surprisingly, coffee is one of the best beverages you can drink to protect your liver from diseases. Data from studies show that drinking coffee helps lower the risk of cirrhosis or permanent liver damage, in those suffering from chronic liver disease. This beverage also helps reduce the chances of contracting the common type of liver cancer and has positive effects on liver disease and inflammation. These benefits are attributed to coffee’s intrinsic properties that prevent the buildup of fat and collagen — the main markers of liver disease. While coffee has been consumed for your morning jolt of energy, it comes with many health benefits that your liver will thank you for.
Generally, tea drinking is widely beneficial for health, but evidence has shown its associated liver-protecting effects. In a Japanese study where the subjects drank 10 cups of green tea per day, the results showed improved blood markers of liver health. Another smaller study with nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) patients as subjects found that drinking green tea for 12 weeks showed improvements in liver enzyme levels and helped lessen oxidative stress and fat deposits in the liver. In addition, a different review found that those who drank four cups of green tea or more were less likely to develop cancer. That said, it’s important to exercise caution and consult with a doctor before consuming green tea as a supplement, especially when there were several reports of liver damage stemming from supplements containing green tea extract.
Grapefruit or citrus paradisi, much like most citrus fruits, are inherent with antioxidants that naturally protect the liver. There are two main antioxidants found in grapefruit — naringenin and naringin. This fruit protects the liver in two methods, by reducing inflammation and protecting cells. Research suggests that the antioxidants in grapefruit work to decrease development of hepatic fibrosis, a dangerous condition where there's an overproduction of connective tissue, built up in the liver. The result of this condition is chronic inflammation. Studies on rates have demonstrated that the antioxidant naringin shows signs of improving the ability to metabolise alcohol and counteract some negative effects of alcohol.
Blueberries and cranberries
Rich in antioxidants named anthocyanins, blueberries and cranberries are the storehouse of health. It’s anthocyanins which give berries their distinctive colours. Several studies on animals have demonstrated that these whole berries, along with their extracts or juices, can not only keep the liver healthy, but also increase immune cell response and antioxidant enzymes. It doesn’t stop there. Blueberry extract is shown to impede the growth of human liver cancer cells in test-tube studies. However, sufficient studies need to be conducted to ascertain whether this effect can be reproduced in humans. Incorporate both these berries into your diet to feed your liver with the antioxidants it needs to stay healthy.
Little did we know, red and purple grapes possess a variety of beneficial plant compounds, the famed one being resveratrol, which carry a number of health benefits. Numerous animal studies found that both grapes and grape juice are great for liver health, from lowering inflammation, preventing damage to increasing antioxidant levels. Take note that grape seed extract is in its purest, concentrated form so don’t expect the same experience from consuming whole grapes. Its effects to promote liver health is also not widely studied for it to be recommended.
Cruciferous vegetables include the likes of Brussels sprouts, broccoli, cauliflower and kale, which are attributed to high fibre content and distinctive taste. While many shy away from these vegetables, they’re rich in beneficial plant compounds. Animal research found that Brussels sprouts and broccoli extracts boosts the levels of detoxification enzymes and protects the liver from damage. In another study on human liver cells, results revealed that the effects were unchanging even when Brussels sprouts were cooked. Sprinkle some salt and pepper and lightly roast with garlic and lemon juice or balsamic vinegar for both a tasty and healthy dish.
Naturally high in healthy fats as well as nutrients like the antioxidant vitamin E and beneficial plant compounds, these crunchy treats carry several health benefits, especially for heart health, but also potentially for the liver. A study conducted in 2019 established that a diet higher in nuts decreases the risk of nonalcoholic fatty liver disease. In another observational study, men who consumed larger amounts of nuts and seeds showed a lower likelihood of developing Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) as opposed to men who ate smaller quantities of nuts and seeds.
Fatty fishes like salmon contain omega-3 fatty acids — healthy fats that function to decrease inflammation and lower the risk of heart disease. This was proven in a 2016 analysis that revealed omega-3 fatty acids lowered liver fat and triglycerides in subjects with nonalcoholic fatty liver disease or nonalcoholic steatohepatitis. Evidently, consuming omega-3-rich fatty fish appears to be beneficial for your liver, however, keeping a balanced ratio of omega-3 fats to omega-6 fats is also crucial. Most Americans consume more than the recommended dosage of omega-6 fats, which are found in many plant oils. Taking in too much of omega-6 to omega-3 ratio doesn’t do you good as it overloads the liver and can result in liver disease. So, maintain a good and healthy balance of omega-3 and omega-6 fats. As the saying goes, everything in moderation.
Virgin Coconut Oil
Virgin Coconut oil is believed to reduce inflammation and swelling that comes from fatty liver disease. Remember that coconut oil also takes the burden off of your liver. At the same time, the same oil fends off the growth of fats. If you’re looking to speed up your body’s metabolism, this too lies with coconut oil.