Eat These Five Foods for a Healthy Liver
- May 7, 2023
- Kelly Harrington, MS, RDN
Did you know? The liver is one of the largest organs in the body, and receives 25% of the blood that the heart pumps with each beat.
Keeping your liver healthy will help it do its very important jobs, like filtering and cleaning your blood, detoxifying chemicals from your body, and making proteins. In addition to a "clean" diet that is relatively free of food additives, preservatives, artificial flavors, and pesticides, there are specific foods you can eat to ensure your liver is in tip-top condition. Are you getting enough of these liver supporting foods? (I bet # 5 will surprise you!)
Leafy Greens like kale, spinach, mustard greens, collard greens, and swiss chard are rich in many valuable nutrients, among them Vitamin K. The liver makes necessary proteins for the body, and uses vitamin K to produce the proteins that are important in blood clotting. Vitamin K is actually known as "the clotting vitamin" because it is so important to the liver for this process.
Onions & Garlic
Onions and garlic do more than just add flavor to your food, they are liver-supporting superstars as well. Garlic (particularly raw garlic) is a rich source of organosulfur compounds that can stimulate the production of glutathione. Glutathione is an important intracellular antioxidant that is required for the elimination of drugs, toxins, and carcinogens from the body. Glutathione is found throughout the body, but is concentrated in the liver, where it grabs hold of toxins and removes them from the body via bile or urine. Eating plenty of garlic and onions ensures there is plenty of this "master antioxidant" in your liver to help with the detoxification process.
Antioxidant Fruits and Vegetables
Speaking of antioxidants, the National Liver Foundation recommends a diet rich in antioxidants (from fruits and vegetables) to protect the liver and help in its recovery if damaged. The National Liver Foundation specifically recommends the following:
- Beta-carotene: Found in orange foods like sweet potatoes, carrots, and mangos
- Lycopene: Found in tomatoes, watermelon, and apricots
- Vitamin A: Found in liver, sweet potatoes, milk, and egg yolks
- Vitamin C: Found in citrus fruits, bell peppers, and poultry
- Vitamin E: Found in almonds, nuts, and broccoli
Antioxidants are also crucial for the liver to complete phase 1 and phase 2 of normal, healthy detoxification. I love this DIM-X for healthy, normal detoxification support. It has all the major nutrients the liver needs to fuction optimally, including antioxidantss and glutathione.
What do sardines, salmon, tuna, cod, scallops and shrimp have to do with your liver? They are all excellent sources of Vitamin B12. About 90% of the B12 found in your body is stored in your liver, and liver damage decreases B12 levels. Vitamin B12 is necessary for the production of an amino acid, methionine, which is converted into SAMe (S-Adenosyl Methionine). SAMe has been shown to reverse the depletion of glutathione, and help with blocked bile flow from liver cirrhosis. B12 can also be found in meat, poultry, eggs, milk and organ meats, like beef liver.
Coffee lovers rejoice! A 2012 study showed that two cups of coffee daily could help sufferers of liver disease, specifically Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease (NAFLD). This ailment is caused by the accumulation of fat in the liver -- not by drinking alcohol. As obesity rates rise so do instances of NAFLD. High fructose corn syrup is a huge contributor to NAFLD because of its impact on insulin resistance. A healthy liver will produce bile salts, which travel into the intestine via the bile duct, helping us to absorb fats in our diet. Coffee may prevent fat from accumulating in the liver, keeping it at its normal levels.
Be sure to include plenty of liver supporting foods in your diet to keep your liver functioning at its best!
Want to know more about how the liver functions and detoxifies? Check out Your Liver Is A Detoxifying Machine.
Kelly Harrington, MS, RD
Registered Dietitian Nutritionist for Healthy Goods