Top Foods and Drinks That Improve Liver Health
Did you know your liver is one of the most important organs in your body? This powerhouse of an organ is responsible for functions vital to life. It performs a variety of essential tasks such as processing nutrients from food, producing cholesterol and making bile. It also removes toxins like alcohol and medication from the body and builds proteins.
Therefore, it’s no surprise that keeping your liver in good shape is essential for maintaining health. One way to care for this important organ is by consuming foods and drinks that are good for your liver. Read on for a list of them.
Coffee lovers will be glad to know that coffee is perhaps one of the best drinks you can have to promote liver health, even if you already have liver problems.
There have been numerous studies that have shown that drinking coffee can help lower the risk of cirrhosis – a serious disease that occurs when scar tissue replaces healthy liver tissue and permanently damages the liver. Coffee has also been shown to help protect against fatty liver disease, a condition that happens when there's an excessive buildup of fat and collagen in and around the liver.
So why coffee? Coffee can reduce fat buildup, decrease inflammation and increase protective antioxidants in the liver.
To get the best liver-boosting health benefits from coffee, drink it black. However, if you don't enjoy your morning cup this way, opt for plant-based sugar and creamer alternatives containing low to no sugar.
Tea is the world’s second most consumed beverage, after water, and for good reason. It’s known for its health-boosting properties, including its benefits for the liver.
A 2015 study showed a 32 percent lower chance of liver disease among green tea drinkers in Asia, Europe and America. Protection against liver tumors and liver inflammation has also been observed, but through animal studies and use of supplements enhanced with catechins, a type of antioxidant. Nevertheless, results are promising.
Looking to shake up your tea ritual? Try this healthy matcha latte.
Ochsner's team of hepatologists provide treatment for a range of liver disorders and conditions. Learn more.
An excellent source of nitrates and antioxidants known as betalains, beetroot juice helps protect the liver from oxidative damage and inflammation, all while increasing its natural detoxification enzymes.
It has traditionally been used as a remedy to activate liver enzymes and increase bile, which helps the liver’s detox function.
While it may seem logical to assume that consuming beets themselves would have similar effects, most studies that suggest these medicinal benefits have involved beetroot juice. Consider juicing beets yourself or buying beetroot juice from the store or online.
If you’re not wild about the flavor of beetroot juice, try combining it with grapefruit juice, sparkling water and a twist of lime for a refreshing drink.
Blueberries and cranberries
Blueberries and cranberries are rich in anthocyanins, antioxidants that reduce inflammation and protect the liver from oxidative stress. Some studies suggest blueberries and cranberries protect against liver damage and reduce the risk of fibrosis.
What’s more, blueberry extract has even been shown to prevent the growth of human liver cancer cells in test-tube studies. However, more studies are needed to determine these effects can be replicated in the human body.
Looking for ways to squeeze more blueberries into your diet? Mix up this tasty smoothie or try your hand at baking our Blueberry Banana Nut Bread.
Artichokes are a great source of cynarin, chlorogenic acid and other compounds that help boost the liver’s detox pathways, protect against oxidative stress – an imbalance between free radicals and antioxidants in your body – and reduce the risk of liver damage. In addition to that, artichokes are also high in inulin, a starchy substance found in many fruits and vegetables which stimulates components of the immune system.
Toss artichoke hearts with fresh tomatoes for a delightful salad or try them in this spinach and artichoke dip.
Nuts and seeds
Nuts are typically high in fats, nutrients like the antioxidant vitamin E and beneficial plant compounds. Nuts are beloved for their health-boosting properties, including those that promote liver health.
A 2019 study found a diet higher in nuts to be associated with a decreased risk of nonalcoholic fatty liver disease while another study found that men who ate larger amounts of nuts and seeds had a lower risk of developing the condition than men who ate fewer nuts and seeds.
Of all types of nuts, walnuts are believed to be the most beneficial for reducing fatty liver disease, thanks to their higher antioxidant and omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acid content.
Grapefruit is believed to boost liver health, as it contains the powerful antioxidants naringenin and naringin. These antioxidants have been shown to help reduce the development of hepatic fibrosis, a harmful condition in which excessive connective tissue builds up in the liver usually due to chronic inflammation.
Brussels sprouts and broccoli sprouts
Cruciferous vegetables like Brussels sprouts and broccoli sprouts contain a natural compound called indole, that was recently studied to control non-alcoholic fatty liver disease. These vegetables also contain sulforaphane, a sulfur-rich compound that boosts detoxification and protect the liver from damage.