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Your liver is an important organ. It sits in the upper right part of your abdomen on top of your stomach. It is beneath your diaphragm.
The liver is one of the largest organs and only weighs about three pounds. It has over 500 vital functions.15
The liver regulates your blood’s chemical levels and excretes bile to remove waste from your body. It also processes and breaks down the blood from your stomach and intestines to create nutrients.
Some other liver functions include:15
Keeping your liver healthy is important. But certain vices like alcohol and unhealthy foods can take a toll on your liver.
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Here are some of the best foods to help keep your liver healthy:
Tofu is good for your liver because it is made of soy. Soy can help reduce fat buildup in the liver.24
The liver works to process fats, and soy can make this process more efficient. Soy is also linked to a reduced risk of alcoholic fatty liver disease.24
Soy is a healthy protein alternative for people with plant-based diets. Other soy foods include edamame, tempeh, miso, soybean sprouts, soy nuts, and some non-dairy yogurts.
Not all fruits are created equal. But many fruits, in moderation, can help keep your liver healthy. For example, citrus fruits like oranges and grapefruits can help.
The Vitamin C in oranges also aids in the prevention of fat buildup in the liver.22
Meanwhile, the antioxidants in grapefruits (naringin and naringenin) have been shown to protect the liver. Naringenin has also been shown to reduce the amount of fat in the liver in some animal studies.
Other fruits like cranberries and blueberries have antioxidants like anthocyanins. These have been shown to help protect the liver from damage and slow the development of scar tissue in the liver.
Blueberry extract may even slow the growth of liver cancer cells, but more research needs to be done.26, 27, 28
Grape seed extract is also linked to improved liver function. Again, more research is necessary to determine all of the benefits of grapes themselves.13
Oats are good for your liver because they are high in fiber. Plus, they’re antioxidant-rich.14
Fiber is known to speed up a healthy liver recovery. It has also been shown to slow down the death of damaged liver cells.14
Many other types of high-fiber foods benefit the liver, including grains, beans, and berries.
Coffee, in moderation, can have some health benefits for your liver. It’s important not to drink too much, as excess caffeine can have adverse health effects.
Moderate coffee consumption is linked to a reduced risk of liver disease. Coffee-drinkers are less likely to develop cirrhosis than those who don’t drink coffee.15
Turmeric is a very popular supplement at health stores, and for good reason. It has anti-inflammatory properties and may help improve some stages of liver disease. The spice also reduces elevated liver enzymes.11
Beets are another antioxidant-rich food that you may want to incorporate into your diet.
In some animal studies, beets have been shown to limit liver enzymes and reduce inflammation. More research needs to be done to replicate these studies in humans, but beets are definitely a superfood.5, 8 They also benefit your heart health.
It’s no secret that vegetables have many health benefits. They boost your immune system, help prevent chronic diseases, and enhance your mental health, among many others.
Cruciferous vegetables are especially beneficial for liver health. These include veggies like broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, spinach, and more. They help detoxify the liver and balance enzymes.20, 23
A compound called indole2 found in cruciferous vegetables can also help prevent and fight nonalcoholic fatty liver disease. Fatty liver disease can lead to other problems down the line.
Leafy greens like spinach are also packed with the powerful glutathione antioxidant. This can help improve liver function.
Nuts are an easy snack that can help to keep your liver healthy. They are rich in vitamin E and plant compounds. And they are linked to a reduced risk of alcoholic liver disease.6
Nuts like almonds are considered healthy fats that are also good for your heart.
Green tea has substantial health benefits. For one, it is linked to better liver health.
Specifically, green tea can improve levels of liver enzymes, cut back on oxidative stress, and reduce fat in the liver.12
People who drink green tea consistently are also associated with a lower risk of developing liver cancer.21
Unhealthy fats (like saturated and trans fats) are not good for the liver — but fatty fish are. Wild caught salmon and sardines are some of the best sources of omega-3 fatty acids. Eating two to three servings a week can help prevent deficiencies.
Omega-3 fatty acids, in moderation, can contribute to improved liver function. People with cirrhosis damage tend to have lower levels of it. But getting more of it can aid in recovery.
Omega-3 fatty acids also have anti-inflammatory properties.17
Here are some foods you should avoid to keep your liver healthy:
Heavy alcohol use is linked to liver disease. Alcohol misuse impairs liver functioning over time and even causes irreversible damage.9
Greasy and fatty foods are very damaging to the liver. This includes foods that are high in saturated and trans fats. Your liver has to break down and process these fats, which takes more time and effort.18
So stay away from fast foods like fries, burgers, pizzas, and hefty sandwiches.
Candy and other sweets that are high in sugars can also hurt your liver. High-fructose foods are linked to fatty liver disease. This includes candy, pastries, and other foods containing refined sugars.
Part of the liver’s function is to turn sugar into fat. So giving your liver too much sugar to convert makes its job harder.
So stick to healthy foods instead of candy. The sugar in fruit is not the same as the sugar found in candy.
Consuming too much salt is bad for your liver. In fact, high-salt diets are linked to liver damage in adults, as well as in developing embryos.25
If you are going to snack, stick to healthy options that are low in salt.
Processed meats like bacon and hot dogs are high in saturated fats, preservatives, and salt.
Lean meats are a much better option. Or you can swap for plant-based proteins like the soy options mentioned above.
Soda is often loaded with sugar, which your liver has to work harder to convert to fat. Drinking too much soda is hard on your liver.
Alcohol use disorder is a serious health condition that refers to dependence.1 Some signs of alcoholism include:
Binge drinking and heavy alcohol use are different. Binge drinking refers to a drinking pattern that raises the blood alcohol concentration (BAC) to 0.08 percent or more.7
Heavy drinking refers to consuming more than four drinks per day (more than 14 per week) for men. For women, it refers to drinking more than three alcoholic beverages per day (more than seven per week).7
About 61 million Americans are considered binge drinkers, and 16 million were classified as heavy alcohol users in 2014.3
Regular binge drinking, heavy alcohol use, and alcohol use disorder can all do significant damage to the liver. Alcohol-induced liver damage is linked to liver cancer and can lead to alcoholic liver disease.2
Alcoholic liver disease happens in three stages:2
Alcoholic liver disease is common in people who are between 40 and 50 years old. But men are more likely to have it than women.4
While some liver damage can be repaired, severe liver damage may be irreversible.
Here are some other simple ways to heal your liver and keep it healthy:
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