Think avoiding alcohol is the only way to keep your liver healthy? If you did, it wouldn’t be held against you. Alcohol has long been associated with liver disease.
But there are a lot of other things you can do to keep your liver healthy. And there are just as many to take it in the opposite direction.
For example, diet is closely related to liver health. A diet high in fiber and plant-based foods, for example, is associated with a lower risk of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD). There is even some evidence to suggest it can protect against alcohol-related liver damage.
But what you eat can also boost the risk for liver damage. Foods high in sugar, saturated and trans-fat, and potentially even salt can lead to fat accumulation in the liver, scarring, and disease.
What you consume every day can have a profound effect on liver function and overall health. Here are a few of the best and worst foods for your liver.
Oatmeal: Fiber can help your liver function at its best, and oatmeal is an excellent source of both soluble and insoluble fiber. Some research suggests that people with diets high in fiber (particularly insoluble) have less fat in their liver, meaning a lower risk for liver disease.
Broccoli: Although virtually any vegetable will encourage better liver function, broccoli might be the best. There is some research to show it can protect against NAFLD, and cruciferous vegetables like broccoli may increase the liver’s natural detox enzymes.
Coffee: Studies suggest that drinking two-to-three coffees per day can protect the liver from too much alcohol or an unhealthy diet. Just make sure not to add much sugar, syrups, or other additives to it.
Fried Foods: Fried foods are not suitable for your liver. A burger and fries are high in saturated fats (and potentially trans) that make it hard for the liver to function effectively. Over time, these items can lead to inflammation and boost the chance of liver disease.
Sugar: Sugar might be one of the worst foods for your liver. It taxes the organ by forcing it to create excess sugar into fat, which means the liver not only functions less efficiently, but the risk for fat accumulation in the area goes way up. Over time, it can lead to NAFLD.
Salt: There is some evidence to suggest that a high-salt diet may take a toll on the liver by contributing to fibrosis. Fibrosis is the first stage of liver scarring and can inhibit function. Limit intake of processed foods.
Liver health is about a lot more than alcohol. Try eating more plant-based and fresh foods, while limiting the intake of processed options.