Foods for a Healthy Liver

Hiral Patel

April 11, 2023

The liver is the largest gland in the human body which performs several essential functions for the daily processes. It is also the only organ in the body that can regenerate itself. This article discusses the essential nutrients and foods for liver. But, before that, let’s discuss some of the vital functions of the liver:

  • Bile Production: Bile is an important compound that helps digest and absorb vitamins, fats and cholesterol.
  • Supports Blood Clots: Bile is responsible for the absorption of Vitamin K; it acts as a clotting factor whenever there is a bleed.
  • Fats’ metabolization: Bile helps to break down fats and digest them.
  • Storing Vitamins: The liver acts as a storehouse of vitamins like A, D, E, K and B12. It also stores iron for the production of new blood cells.
  • Metabolising proteins: Bile helps to digest proteins.
  • Filtering Blood: Compounds like hormones and alcohol are filtered from the blood by the liver.

Your Liver Needs Nutrition to Stay Healthy

Eating the right foods supports your liver in performing its functions more effectively and keeps it healthy. Therefore, it is essential to have a balanced diet rich in nutrients that support liver health.

Research suggests that vitamin E effectively reduces specific symptoms related to liver diseases and improves its functioning. In addition, diets rich in fibre and omega-3 fatty acids are also very beneficial for the liver. Omega-3 fatty acids help reduce inflammation and get rid of excess liver fat, while the fibres maintain healthy gut bacteria, reducing fat production in the liver.

11 Foods for a Healthy Liver

Foods for a Healthy Liver- HealthifyMe

1. Tomato

Tomatoes are a good source of vitamins K, A, and C. Vitamin K is an essential nutrient for the liver. Vitamin K deficiency can lead to abnormal bleeding and increased clot time which can be fatal. Cirrhosis is a condition in which there is an increased risk of both bleeding and clotting. The use of Vitamin K is a coagulopathic therapy for this condition.

Studies also suggest that tomatoes are rich in antioxidants present in the form of lycopene. This antioxidant has anti-inflammatory properties and can help to reduce the risk of fatty liver disease.

Nutritional Value of Tomato

For 100 g of tomato:

  • Calories: 20 kCal
  • Carbohydrate: 3.6 g
  • Protein: 0.9 g
  • Fats: 0.2 g
  • Fibre: 1.7 g 

2. Pumpkin

Pumpkins are rich in nutrients and a good source of vitamin C, antioxidants and carotenoids, making it a good food for liver. In addition, it can help to boost your immunity as it has high vitamin C levels, reducing inflammation and signs of the common cold.

The beta carotene and other carotenoids present in the Pumpkin can help detoxify the liver and improve the health of the liver tissue. According to a study, these are plant-based derivatives of vitamin A which can help in cirrhosis and steatohepatitis (silent liver disease).

Nutritional Value of Pumpkin

For 100 g of Pumpkin:

  • Calories: 25 kCal
  • Carbohydrates: 4.6  g
  • Protein: 1.4 g
  • Fats: 0.1 g
  • Fibre: 0.5 g

3. Banana

Bananas are a rich source of Vitamin B6, C, A, potassium, calcium and magnesium. The body requires these nutrients for healthy functioning. In addition, potassium is necessary to maintain sodium levels and regulate the heartbeat.

Bananas are also a rich source of resistant starch, fiber which is not metabolized or absorbed in the small intestine and enters the colon unaltered. So the glucose it’s made up of won’t be absorbed into the blood. This means it shouldn’t raise blood glucose levels. In fact it improves insulin sensitivity and lowers blood sugar levels, especially after meals and can help prevent fatty liver disease and even reverse the symptoms. 

Nutritional Value of Banana

For 100g of Bananas:

  • Calories: 89 kCal
  • Fats: 0.3 g
  • Carbohydrates: 23 g
  • Protein: 1.1 g
  • Calcium: 5 mg

4. Watermelon

Watermelon is high in water content and is excellent for hydration. It is also rich in natural sugars. The high vitamin C content can help combat inflammation; it also acts as an antioxidant required for healthy metabolic functioning.

The potassium present in it helps the nerves and muscles to function correctly. Therefore, it also ensures that the liver works appropriately. Low potassium levels are also associated with developing the non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD).

Watermelon also contains a carotenoid called lycopene which has anti-inflammatory properties and plays a significant role in protecting the liver.  

Nutritional Value of Watermelon

For 100g of watermelon:

  • Calories: 16 kCal
  • Fats: 0.2g
  • Carbohydrates: 3.3 g
  • Protein: 0.2 g
  • Sugar: 6g

5. Salmon

Salmon is a fatty fish; these fish species are rich in omega-3 fatty acids. According to research, Omega-3 can help reduce inflammation and help to lower liver fat and triglycerides, which are associated with non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) and steatohepatitis.

However, it is essential to maintain omega-3 and omega-6 fats as excess intake can lead to liver diseases.

Nutrition Value of Salmon

For 100g of salmon

  • Calories: 127 mg
  • Fats: 4.4 g
  • Protein: 20.5 g
  • Carbohydrates: 0g
  • Fibre: 0g

6. Tuna

Tuna is rich in omega-3 fatty acid, which impacts cholesterol levels. Increased triglycerides in the blood can lead to a high-fat content in the body. It can help lower the levels of Low-density lipoproteins, which can help reduce the cholesterol level. As a result, it reduces the risk of developing fatty liver disease.

Eating Tuna twice a week can help lower LDL levels and increase HDL.

Nutritional Value of Tuna

For 100 g of Tuna 

  • Calories: 144 kCal
  • Fats: 4.9 g
  • Carbohydrates: 0 g
  • Protein: 23.3 g
  • Fibre: 0 g

7. Avocado

Avocados are a good source of Glutathione. Glutathione is a compound that can help to detoxify the liver cells. It protects the liver and helps to filter out the substances that can be toxic to the body.

It is also rich in Vitamin B6 and Vitamin C, which act as antioxidants and help reduce free radicals’ effects. Free radicals interact with the oxygen in the body and bind with it, resulting in low oxygen levels for the healthy cells and causing oxidative stress. Antioxidants can reverse this oxidative damage and protect the liver as well.

Nutritional Value of Avocado

For 100g of avocados

  • Calories: 144 Kcal
  • Fats: 13.9 g
  • Carbohydrates: 1.8 g
  • Protein: 3 g
  • Vitamin C: 10mg
  • Vitamin B6: 0.3mg
  • Potassium: 485mg
  • Magnesium: 29mg
  • Iron: 0.6mg
  • Vitamin A: 146mcg
  • Calcium: 10 mg

8. Mung Beans

According to research, mung beans have a unique role in lipid metabolism and fatty liver disorder. Therefore, it can help to reduce the hepatic lipid deposition and reduce the chances of inflammation of the hepatic tissue (liver tissue).

They also ensure that the liver has a better blood flow and better vascularisation of the hepatic tissue.

Nutritional Value of Mung Beans

For 100 g of mung beans:

  • Calories: 334 kCal
  • Fat: 1.3 g
  • Carbohydrates: 56.7 g
  • Fibre: 16.7 g
  • Protein: 24 g

9. Papaya

Papaya seeds are packed with nutrients and contain fibre, antioxidants such as polyphenols, flavonoids, and monounsaturated fatty acids, beneficial for human health. The antioxidants can help to maintain the liver cell life and prolong it.

It can help reduce inflammation and heal liver cirrhosis. Cirrhosis is a condition in which the blood clotting ability is compromised and increases the chances of unexpected bleeding.

Nutritional Value of Papaya

For 100g of papaya

  • Calories: 32 kCal
  • Fats: 0.1 g
  • Carbohydrates: 7.2 g
  • Fibre: 2.6 g
  • Vitamin C: 57 mg
  • Calcium: 21 mg
  • Magnesium: 6 mg
  • Iron: 0.3 mg
  • Potassium: 67 mg

10. Grapes

Grapes contain Vitamin C and magnesium, which are excellent sources of antioxidants. Antioxidants can help reduce the inflammatory markers in the liver significantly. They also help to strengthen the immune system and help to protect you from infections.

Red grapes can help detoxify the liver, which can help enhance its functioning by keeping the cells healthy.

Nutritional Value of Grapes

For 100g of grapes:

  • Calories: 58 kCal
  • Fats: 0.3g
  • Carbohydrates: 17g
  • Sugar: 16g
  • Protein: 0.6g
  • Vitamin C:  1 mg
  • Calcium: 14mg
  • Iron: 0.3mg

11. Blueberries

Blueberries contain certain antioxidants which can slow down the development of fibrosis, scar tissue, and lesions in the liver tissue cells. It can help keep your liver healthy by protecting it from oxidative damage caused by free radicals because of their antioxidant property. They can also increase the immune response and antioxidant enzymes.

Nutritional Value of Blueberries

For 100g of blueberries:

  • Calories: 57kCal
  • Fats: 0.3g
  • Carbohydrates: 14g
  • Protein: 0.7g
  • Vitamin C: 9.7mg
  • Vitamin B6: 0.1mg
  • Potassium: 77mg
  • Magnesium: 6mg
  • Iron: 0.3mg

Avoid these Foods for Healthy Liver Function

1. Meat

Meat such as beef, turkey, pork and red meat are rich in saturated fats. However, saturated fats are not that good for the body as they increase the chances of clogged arteries and increase LDL levels. Additionally, as per a study, it can cause fat accumulation in the liver.

2. Alcohol

Alcohol is not a nutrition source, and the human body treats it as a toxic substance. So, the liver pauses the other bodily functions and eliminates alcohol from the bloodstream whenever you consume alcohol. Therefore, excess alcohol consumption hinders the liver’s ability to function up to its full potential.

It also causes excess fat build up in your liver, leading to inflammation and scar tissue.

3. Salt

High sodium content in food can affect bile production. It can affect fat breakdown, protein digestion and other metabolic functions. High salt increases cell death rates in the liver and can lead to liver fibrosis.

Liver Diseases and Causes

1. Hepatitis

Hepatitis is known as liver inflammation. A virus can cause it, and it can cause liver damage making it difficult for the organ to function correctly. Most viral hepatitis is contagious but is preventable by getting vaccinated. The prevention of Hepatitis A and B is by vaccination.

The cause of Hepatitis A is contaminated food or water. You can fix the symptoms within a few weeks without any treatment.

Hepatitis B can be short term or long term. This type is not curable. However, early treatment can avoid complications.

2. Fatty Liver Disease

This disorder refers to the fat build up in the liver. The cause is heavy alcohol consumption, called Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease. However, various other factors also cause it, in which case it is Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease.

Several autoimmune conditions also cause it, in which case the immune cells attack the healthy liver cells in your body.

3. Cirrhosis

Cirrhosis refers to scarring developed after severe liver disease or liver damage. Alcohol abuse also causes it. The more scar tissue the liver produces, the harder it will function to its full potential.

Risk Factors

Particular food and lifestyle choices can lead to the development of liver disorders. One of the well-known risks is heavy drinking. Having more than eight drinks per week for women and 15 for men can contribute to liver disorders.

Some other factors are:

  • Sharing needles,
  • Getting a tattoo or piercing with a non sterile needle
  • Diabetes or high cholesterol
  • Having unprotected intercourse
  • Mixing medication with alcohol.

Bottom Line

The liver is one of the essential organs that help to eliminate toxic substances from the bloodstream and metabolise fats and proteins. Taking care of your liver can help you lead a healthy life. Taking proper nutrition is essential for maintaining liver health and preventing it from collapsing. 

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Q. What foods are good for liver repair?

A. Tomatoes, Pumpkin, salmon, Tuna, avocados are some foods that are rich in essential fatty acids and vitamins. Therefore, they make them an excellent choice to restore liver health.

Q. How do I make my liver healthy again?

A. You can add specific foods to your diet high in omega-3 fatty acids and low in saturated fats. High vitamin K foods are also vital for restoring the damaged liver. 

Q. Which fruit is best for the liver?

A. Bananas, watermelons and grapes are very healthy and nutrient-rich fruits that are excellent for a healthy liver. They are full of antioxidants and vitamins, which help the liver function properly.

Q. Are eggs rotten for your liver?

A. Eggs are a good source of protein. However, having too many eggs can lead to fatty liver disorder. Yolks are high in fat content and can lead to fat accumulation in the liver.

Q. What are signs that your liver is struggling?

A. Various signs show your liver is struggling. For example, these include having abdominal aches, yellow skin and eyes, and joint pains, which are a few signs of a damaged liver.

Q. Is banana good for the liver?

A. Yes, bananas are rich in vitamin B6, C and A. It is also high in resistant starch, which is highly beneficial for liver health. These nutrients make sure that the liver functions correctly.

Q. What vitamins are good for liver repair?

A. Vitamin K, D, E and A are excellent for liver health. These vitamins ensure proper metabolic activity and prevent inflammation. In addition, vitamin K is essential as it makes up the clotting factor. 

Q. Is yoghurt good for the liver?

A. Yes, yoghurt is an excellent probiotic that improves gut flora. These good bacteria in the gut help to reduce fat levels and prevent fat accumulation in the liver.

Q. What can I drink to detoxify my liver?

A. Lemon water can help you detoxify and clean out your liver. It is a good hydration source and loaded with vitamins. The antioxidants present can help to push out the toxins and flush them out of your body.

Q. Where do you feel liver pain?

A. Liver pain exists in several areas of your body. For example, you feel liver pain near the front centre of your belly. You can also feel it on your right shoulder or even on your back.

Q. Is lemon water good for your liver?

A. Yes, lemon water is an excellent drink to have if you want to detoxify your liver. It is loaded with antioxidants and helps flush out all the toxins from your body.

Q. Is coffee bad for the liver?

A. No, coffee can be pretty beneficial for the liver. People who consume coffee have a much lower chance of developing fatty liver disease, and it can even be helpful for people with hepatitis C.

Q. Is milk sour for the liver?

A. No, milk can have some positive effects in protecting your liver from non-alcoholic fatty liver disease. Vitamin D content also helps to make your liver function much better.

Q. Is an apple good for fatty liver?

A. Yes, adding apples to your diet can be one of the healthiest ways to improve your liver health. The antioxidants can help reduce inflammation and reduce some of the symptoms.

Q. Is fasting good for the liver?

A. Yes, fasting can help the liver regenerate and clean itself as there is no load of metabolising fats and proteins. You can also try juice fasts to help detoxify your liver.

Q. Is cucumber good for liver cirrhosis?

A. Yes, cucumber can help the liver to produce more of its natural enzymes. As a result, they help in detoxification, protecting from damage, and improving blood circulation to the liver.

Q. What foods can damage your liver?

A. Several foods can damage your liver. These include alcohol, high salt food, and red meat.

Q. Is turmeric good for your liver?

A. Turmeric has natural antioxidant properties and is a nutrient-rich food. In addition, the antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties can be beneficial for liver health.

Q. Is honey good for the liver?

A. Honey can help to protect your liver from toxic substances and help to detoxify it. You can also take some honey with warm water to help flush out the toxins.

Q. Are blueberries good for the liver?

A. Yes, blueberries are rich in antioxidants and vitamin C. In addition, they can have some fantastic anti-inflammatory effects, which are very beneficial for the liver cells.

Q. Are carrots good for the liver?

A. Yes, carrots are rich in vitamin A which are carotenoid derivatives. Carotenoids can be very beneficial in the case of cirrhosis.

Q. Are avocados good for your liver?

A. Yes, avocados are excellent for liver health. They are rich in Glutathione, which helps to detoxify the liver and regenerate the liver cells.

About the Author

According to Hiral, “Striving to be better than yesterday, is the key to achieving any goal that is ahead of you”. As a diet and lifestyle consultant, Hiral intends to help her clients inculcate habits such as healthy eating and regular exercise to improve their lifestyle holistically for a better tomorrow. She also aims to make her clients feel good from the inside-out and bring about a positive change to their overall life.

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