Certain foods help maintain a healthy liver. This article will introduce you to seven of the most important foods that keep the liver clean and healthy. Poor lifestyle and dietary habits negatively impact the liver. Adopting healthy lifestyle changes such as regular exercise, lower alcohol intake and less exposure to toxins may help promote liver health. Avoiding foods that are high in fat, sugar and preservatives do your liver a huge favor.
The liver’s vital role in filtering harmful toxins and converting food to energy renders it susceptible to a host of adverse health conditions. In fact, data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that liver disease accounts for about 38,000 deaths in the U.S. each year.
Some of the most common liver conditions include cirrhosis, hepatitis and liver cancer as well as fatty liver disease, alcoholic liver disease and medication toxicity. Symptoms of possible liver disease include yellow skin and eyes, dark-colored urine and itchy skin. Flu-like symptoms and tenderness on the upper right side of the abdomen may also raise red flags on your liver health.
Canadian holistic nutritionist Hermeet Suri stressed that an unhealthy liver could lead to a plethora of diseases such as obesity and cardiovascular disease. He also noted that the liver plays an important role in promoting the body’s overall health. “Although the immune system protects our body from many dangers, it is the liver that protects the immune system from becoming overloaded,” Suri said.
Top 10 liver-friendly foods you need to know
- Dark, leafy vegetables – Dark leafy vegetables such as kale, spinach, and collard greens are packed with antioxidants, flavonoids, vitamin C, and carotenoids that are essential in maintaining a healthy liver. These vegetables are capable of neutralizing metals, pesticides and chemicals that may be present in the food, which in turn provides protection to the liver, Suri said.
- Broccoli – Cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli and Brussels sprouts help inhibit fat uptake and increase lipid output. According to Suri, these vegetables help increase the levels of glucosinolate — an organic compound responsible for creating digestive enzymes.
- Blueberries – While most fruits and berries are healthy for the liver, blueberries contain the highest amounts of flavonoids and anthocyanins, both of which are touted as powerful anti-inflammatory compounds.
- Garlic – Garlic contains antibacterial, antioxidant, antiviral, and anti-fungal properties that are essential for liver health. This spice is known to curb inflammation, and activate enzymes that eliminate toxins. Garlic is also packed with allicin and selenium. These two compounds help cleanse the liver, Suri noted.
- Pineapple – Pineapple contains anti-inflammatory digestive enzymes that expedite food metabolism. The fruit is high in magnesium, vitamin C, vitamin B1, and potassium.
- Turmeric – Turmeric is rich in curcuminoids. These beneficial compounds help relieve inflammation and boost kidney, liver, and bile production to improve digestion. The spice is also known to promote fat metabolism and is touted as a natural form of liver detox.
- Green tea – Green tea is best known for its antioxidant properties. It also helps prevent fat accumulation in the body. Green tea is packed with catechins, which help improve liver functions.
- Citrus fruits – Citrus fruits such as lemon and grapefruit contain high levels of vitamin C and antioxidants. Grapefruit helps the liver eliminate carcinogens and toxins from the body, while lemons facilitate digestion.
- Avocados – According to Suri, eating avocados can help the body to generate an essential antioxidant called glutathione. This is an important antioxidant that helps the liver filter out potentially harmful materials.
- Walnuts – Walnuts contain high levels of glutathione, and are packed with omega-3 fatty acids that assist the liver in its cleansing process.