The liver is an organ in the body that filters blood coming from the digestive tract before passing it around the body. It is the second-largest organ and one of the most crucial glands in your body. It has several benefits to the body which include glycogen storage, production of biochemical, protein synthesis, carb metabolism, bile production, and hormone secretion. Your liver may get weakened and even damaged depending on lifestyle choices you take such as not eating healthy, not carrying out exercises to stay fit, and consuming too much alcohol. Complications that may result from these include hepatitis, liver failure, and cirrhosis. These symptoms can be reduced by eating healthy foods that help cleanse your liver and keep it free from toxins.
Here are 20 foods you can take to keep your liver healthy:
1. Blueberries and cranberries
Both blueberries and cranberries get their colors from an antioxidant they contain known as anthocyanins. These anthocyanins also play a major role in staying healthy. Studies have been carried out on several animals to understand how these berries affect the liver. Taking blueberries and cranberries for 3 to 4 weeks helped prevent liver damage. It was also observed that these fruits contain antioxidants that slow down the development of lesions, fibrosis, and scar tissue in the liver of rats. More studies on the human liver showed that these berries even helped prevent the growth of human liver cancer cells. Although more studies still need to be carried out on the human liver, it is no doubt that blueberries and cranberries are very important for healthy liver functioning.
Grapefruits contain major antioxidants that help protect the liver. The two major antioxidants found in grapefruits include naringenin and naringin. Both of them help protect the liver from injuries. This protection is carried out in two ways – they protect the cells and reduce inflammation. These antioxidants also have other benefits which include reducing the development of hepatic fibrosis which leads to chronic inflammation in the liver as a result of excessive connective tissue build up.
Studies were also carried out in mice that were fed a high-fat diet and it was observed that naringenin increased the number of fat-burning enzymes and decreased the amount of fat in the liver. Although the effect of grapefruit itself has not been studied, the components have proven to be effective in animal studies. More research still needs to be carried out on the human liver, but evidence points to the fact that grapefruit should be taken to boost liver function.
3. Green tea
Many people drink tea every day because they know it is very beneficial to the body, even though some do not know how it helps. Several studies have shown that tea helps in proper liver functioning. In a Japanese study, it was observed that drinking 5 to 10 cups of green tea a day improved liver health. Green tea usually contains a high amount of antioxidants which reduce oxidative stress on the liver, improve liver enzyme levels, and reduce fat deposits in the liver. Studies have also shown that drinking more than 4 cups of green tea daily reduces the risk of liver cancer. Even though green tea is a good substance to consume for great liver function, some studies have also shown that using supplements containing green tea extracts have caused liver damage on several occasions. You should be cautious about taking green tea supplements when you have a liver problem.
4. Beetroot juice
Beetroot juice contains nitrates and antioxidants known as betalains which have great benefits to the organs of the body including the heart and liver such as reducing inflammation and oxidative damage. Most studies have been carried out on beetroot juice and not on eating beet itself. Studies have not been carried out inhumane but animal studies have been promising. Studies carried out on rat liver showed that beetroot juice helped increase natural detoxification enzymes and reduced inflammation of the liver. More studies still need to be carried out on humans to get the benefits of beetroot juice on the human liver.
People take coffee because they are trying to stay awake to complete one task or the other, and some people just enjoy the taste of coffee for breakfast. Coffee is one of the best beverages that promote a healthy liver. Studies have shown that drinking coffee has helped people protect from liver diseases, and it is not restricted to people who have a great liver function. Even in those with liver problems, drinking coffee prevents liver diseases such as cirrhosis or permanent liver damage.
Coffee increases the level of the antioxidant glutathione and decreases inflammation. The antioxidant produced Coffee helps prevent damage to the cells that may be caused by free radicals produced by the body.
6. Olive oil
Olive oil has many health benefits to various organs of the body that:s why it is regarded as one of the healthy oils. A study carried out using 11 people with liver disease showed that taking one spoon of olive oil per day improved fat levels and liver enzymes. It also improved levels of proteins responsible for better metabolic activities, preventing the liver from fat accumulation and improving insulin sensitivity and blood levels of liver enzymes. The first stage of liver diseases is fat accumulation, and olive oil helps prevent it, thus making it one of the most important oils to use in preparing your foods and making your salads.
7. Cruciferous vegetables
Cruciferous vegetables are green vegetables which include mustard greens, broccoli, and sprouts. Cruciferous vegetables are known to have great fiber content and contain plant compounds that are beneficial to a healthy body. Several studies have been carried out on Brussels sprouts in animals and this increases the levels of detoxification enzymes in the body and prevents the liver from damage. Studies have been carried out on human bodies and the effects on the liver remain the same even after these vegetables are cooked. To turn these vegetables into a healthy dish, you can roast garlic and lemon juice or balsamic ginger.
Nuts are very rich in nutrients such as beneficial plant compounds, fats, and vitamins including vitamin E which serves as an antioxidant. It has great benefits to the heart and liver. A study was carried out for 6 months in 106 people who had non-alcohol related liver problems. It was observed that taking nuts over that period improved their liver enzymes and ultimately strengthened their liver. Other studies showed that men who are fewer nuts had higher risks of developed non-alcoholic fatty liver disease. The great thing about nuts is that you can take it as a snack whenever you want, making you increase your body nutrients throughout the day.
9. Prickly pear
Prickly pear is a very popular edible cactus that is commonly taken by people to reduce symptoms associated with ulcers, liver diseases, fatigue, and wounds. Prickly pear has a lot of positive effects on the body especially after consuming alcohol. A study has shown that taking prickly pear after excessive consumption of alcohol decreases hangover symptoms. This is due to the anti-inflammatory effects of nuts. They also contain antioxidants that help prevent the body from oxidative damage and injuries after taking alcohol, keeping the liver enzymes and inflammation level stable. You can take the prickly pear fruit or take the juice to get the effects. More human studies still need to be carried out to determine how it works on the human liver, but evidence shows that it helps keep the liver healthy.
10. Fatty fish
Fatty acids such as salmon and mackerel are known to be very high in omega-3 fatty acids which are very important for a good liver function. The omega-3 fatty acids found in these fish prevents the accumulation of fats in the liver and reduces inflammation. It has been observed that many people take in more omega-6 fatty acids (which cause liver damage when taken in excess) than omega-3 fatty acids because there are found in more foods than omega-3 fatty acids. You have to ensure your omega-3 fatty acid intake is higher than the omega-6 fatty acid intake to prevent liver damage.
Grapes are very healthy foods for the liver because they contain essential plant compounds that keep the liver functioning without problems. One such compound is known as resveratrol and it has great health benefits. Studies have been carried out on animals using grapes and grape juice. It has been observed that they reduce inflammation, increase the antioxidant level, and prevent liver damage. A study in which grape seed extracts were taken by NAFLD patients over the course of 3 months showed that there was a great improvement in liver function. Although much research has not been carried out on grape seeds extracts because they are in concentrated forms, evidence shows that grapes are very helpful in improving liver function.
Oatmeal is very important in your diet because it is high in fiber content and fiber is very important for better food digestion and absorption. Specific fibers in oats are important for good liver functioning. They also contain compounds known as beta-glucans which are biologically active compounds in the body that boosts the immune system and helps to fight inflammation. Some studies show that they may also be able to prevent obesity. A study on mice showed that beta-glucans helped reduce the amount of fat stored in the liver. More studies are still required to know more about the effects of oatmeal on the human liver, but the beta-glucans found in oats and oatmeal are important for a healthy liver.
Carrots are fruits you can take at any time of the day and they help improve the health of your liver. They are highly rich in nutrients such as minerals, vitamins, dietary fiber, and antioxidants. A study was carried out on rats where carrot juice was administered for 8 weeks. It was observed that at the end of the period, the levels of triglycerides, monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFA), and DHA had reduced in the liver. This means that taking carrots can protect you from liver toxicity and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD)
Many people don’t love garlic because of the smell associated with it, but it is one of the most important food items to keep your liver healthy. Garlic helps in detoxification because it is rich in an antioxidant, allicin which helps protect the liver from oxidative damage and also stimulates the activation of enzymes in the liver responsible for flushing out toxic substances. To activate the allicin in the garlic, let it sit for about 5 to 10 minutes after chopping it.
Traditional medicinal herbs also do great work in taking care of your liver. One such medicinal herb is Ginseng which is found in the roots of Panax ginseng. This herb contains compounds known as ginsenosides that are responsible for its medicinal properties. Studies have shown that the over 40 ginsenosides found in ginseng protect the body from NAFLD, liver injury, cirrhosis, and liver toxicity.
Asparagus is a vegetable that should be taken by anyone who is concerned about the health of their liver. It contains a variety of nutrients including choline, folate, dietary fiber, minerals like calcium and potassium, and vitamins A, C, E, and K. Asparagus as been regarded as a cure for a hangover. It also prevents liver toxicity and suppresses hepatoma cell growth, reactive oxygen species and other toxic substances such as ethanol in the liver.
Lemon is a citrus fruit that is very rich in vitamin C which serves as an antioxidant. Research has shown that taking more citrus fruits including lemon helps reduce oxidative damage in the liver as a result of free radicals found in the body
18. Whole grains
Excess cholesterol in the body can have negative effects on the liver as time goes on. Whole grains such as quinoa, barley, rye, and brown rice contain high dietary fiber content which helps your body to shed fat and reduce excess cholesterol levels in the body. Therefore, it helps prevent non-alcoholic fatty liver diseases.
Turmeric is a root that is usually used in cooking. It contains a compound known as Curcumin which is responsible for the plant’s medicinal properties. It has antiviral, antifungal, antibacterial, anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. It helps prevent the liver from oxidative damage, injuries, and inflammation by improving insulin sensitivity and lipid metabolism.
Tomatoes are usually eaten raw or used to prepare foods. They are very rich in antioxidants which the liver needs to prevent oxidative damage. Those delicious red tomatoes also prevent liver inflammation, injury, and liver cancer. A study was carried out on rats that had been injected with a high-fat diet and carcinogens. They were fed with tomato juice for six weeks and it was observed that they were able to develop increased resistance to carcinogens and they had lower cholesterol levels. If you haven’t been taken tomatoes before now, you should incorporate it into your diet.