The liver, weighing in at about 3 pounds in healthy adults, is one of the body’s vital organs. It is responsible for many important functions related to digestion, metabolism, immunity and the storage of nutrients that the body needs to survive.
Moreover, the liver is a gland that secretes chemicals required by other parts of the body. In fact, the liver is the only part of your body that is both an organ and a gland.
A healthy liver regulates the composition of blood, removes harmful toxins from the blood as well as processes and converts nutrients absorbed by the intestines during digestion into forms that the body can use. It also stores some vitamins, iron and simple sugar glucose.
It is also responsible for breaking down insulin, hemoglobin and other hormones. In addition, it destroys old red blood cells and produces chemicals needed for blood to clot properly.
Because the liver performs so many vital functions, it is important to keep it healthy. An unhealthy diet and poor lifestyle can overwork and overload the liver, leaving it unable to process toxins and fat efficiently.
This in turn can raise the risk of obesity, cardiovascular disease, chronic fatigue, headaches, digestive problems, allergies and many other health problems.
Many foods can help cleanse, rejuvenate and detoxify your liver. This will help keep your liver healthy and functioning the way you need it to.
Here are the top 10 liver-cleansing foods.
Garlic is great for cleansing your liver. It helps activate enzymes in the liver that help clear out toxins. It also contains two natural compounds called allicin and selenium, which aid in the liver-cleansing process and protect the liver from toxic damage.
Moreover, garlic reduces cholesterol and triglyceride levels, which can overload the liver and hamper its functioning.
To promote liver health, use fresh raw garlic instead of processed, minced garlic or powder.
- Eat 2 to 3 raw garlic cloves daily and include garlic in your cooking whenever possible.
- You can also take garlic supplements, but only after consulting your doctor.
Being a good source of vitamin C, pectin and antioxidants, grapefruit also aids the natural cleansing process of the liver.
It also contains glutathione, a powerful antioxidant that neutralizes free radicals and detoxifies the liver. Glutathione also helps in the detoxification of heavy metals. Moreover, the flavonoid naringenin in grapefruit helps break down fat.
Drink a small glass of freshly squeezed grapefruit juice or enjoy the whole fruit with your breakfast daily.
Note: If you are on medications, consult your doctor before taking this fruit as it may interact with certain drugs.
Beetroots are another powerful food for cleansing and supporting liver function. High in plant flavonoids and beta-carotene, they help stimulate and improve overall liver function. Moreover, beetroots are natural blood purifiers.
- Simply add fresh beetroots or juice to your daily diet.
- Make a powerful liver-cleansing salad with 1 cup of chopped or grated beetroots, 2 tablespoons of cold-pressed extra-virgin olive oil and the juice of ½ lemon. Mix all the ingredients together and eat 2 teaspoons of it every 2 hours during the day for a week.
Lemons help detoxify the liver mainly due to the antioxidant D-Limonene present in it, which helps activate enzymes in the liver that aid detoxification.
Moreover, the high amount of vitamin C in lemons helps your liver produce more enzymes to aid digestion. Lemons also boost mineral absorption by the liver.
Make lemon water at home by adding the juice of 1 lemon to a jar of water. You can even add chopped lemons to it. Drink this water at regular intervals. If desired, add a little honey.
5. Green Tea
By drinking green tea daily, you can help your body flush out toxins and fat deposits, while increasing hydration levels.
A 2002 study published in the International Journal of Obesity found that the catechins in tea help stimulate lipid catabolism in the liver. This in turn prevents fat accumulation in the liver. This healthy beverage also protects the liver from the damaging effects of toxic substances like alcohol.
Green tea is also beneficial in treating or preventing liver disease. According to a 2009 study published in Cancer Causes and Control, people who drink green tea have a lower risk of developing liver cancer.
Drink 2 to 3 cups of green tea daily. If desired, sweeten your tea with honey.
Note: Avoid drinking green tea in excess as it can have an adverse impact on your liver and other body parts.
Avocados contain potent chemicals that may reduce liver damage, according to a 2000 study by the American Chemical Society. This fruit is rich in glutathione, a compound required by the liver to cleanse harmful toxins and to function properly.
The high amount of monounsaturated fat in avocados helps reduce low-density lipoproteins or “bad” cholesterol and increase high-density lipoproteins or “good” cholesterol. The liver easily processes good cholesterol.
Moreover, avocados contain many minerals, vitamins and plant nutrients that support overall liver health and help break down fats.
Eat 1 to 2 avocados per week for a couple of months to help reverse liver damage.
Turmeric is another popular and effective liver-cleansing food. It also improves the body’s ability to digest fats.
The compound curcumin in turmeric induces the formation of a primary liver detoxification enzyme called glutathione S-transferase. It also helps regenerate damaged liver cells.
- Mix ¼ teaspoon of turmeric powder in a glass of water and boil it. Drink it twice daily for a couple of weeks.
- Also, include this spice in your daily cooking.
An apple a day is the secret behind a healthy liver. Apples are a good source of pectin, a soluble fiber that helps remove toxins from the digestive tract and cholesterol from the blood, in turn preventing the liver from being overworked.
Moreover, apples contain malic acid, a naturally cleansing nutrient that removes carcinogens and other toxins from the blood.
All types of apples are good for your liver, however, for fast liver cleansing choose organic apples. Eat one organic apple or drink a glass of fresh apple juice daily.
The high amount of the amino acid l-arginine in walnuts aids the liver in detoxifying ammonia. Moreover, walnuts contain glutathione and omega-3 fatty acids, which aid the natural liver-cleansing process.
According to a 2008 study published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, walnut polyphenols prevent liver damage induced by carbon tetrachloride and d-galactosamine.
- Munch on a handful of walnuts as a snack daily.
- You can also sprinkle them over a salad, side dish, soup or baked goods.
Support the natural liver-cleansing process by including broccoli in your diet. Being rich in glucosinolates, it helps flush carcinogens and other harmful toxins out of the body.
The high fiber content in broccoli also improves the digestion process. Moreover, it contains fat-soluble vitamin E, an important antioxidant for the liver to carry out its functions.
Eat 1 cup of broccoli 3 times a week to keep your liver healthy.
Also, to keep your liver healthy, health experts recommend eliminating or reducing animal foods as well as alcohol, refined sugar, excess caffeine and processed foods from your diet. In addition, stop smoking as it causes significant damage to different organs of the body, including the liver.
Expert Answers (Q&A)
Answered by Ms. Erica Mouch, CD (RDN)
Is apple cider vinegar helpful in cleansing the liver?
No. The liver does a great job at cleansing itself. No research shows that apple cider vinegar does anything to support our liver.
Which food items can damage the liver?
Alcohol and beverages high in sugar, like soda, can potentially damage the liver. Quantities and frequency of consumption can also impact the liver.
Is turmeric bad for the liver?
No research I’ve seen shows that turmeric is bad for the liver. Turmeric has great anti-inflammatory properties and can be beneficial for overall health, including supporting the liver.
Should people with liver damage avoid coffee?
No, unless recommended by their doctor. Drinking coffee can potentially reduce liver disease progression, according to the British Liver Trust.
Which vitamins and minerals are helpful in repairing the liver?
Selenium, vitamin A, vitamin D, and B vitamins are all supportive of liver function. Most people need not take any supplement to support their liver – a varied and balanced diet with fruits and vegetables will automatically support the liver.
Please provide some diet and lifestyle tips for maintaining a healthy liver for the benefit of our readers.
The liver is a large organ that helps our body detoxify. It metabolizes drugs, stores our body’s glycogen (glucose, energy stores) and supports healthy digestion with bile secretion. Choosing a diet high in vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and lean proteins can support a healthy liver.
Limiting medication intake, if possible, choosing to avoid alcohol or having alcohol only in moderation (1 drink for women/day, 2 drinks for men) can also support a healthy liver.
About Ms. Erica Mouch, CD, RDN: Ms. Mouch is a registered dietitian and food therapist at Erica Mouch Nutrition. She practices health from an every size perspective and fully believes that delicious food is at the center of a life well-lived. By employing a whole-person approach, she emphasizes on personalized nutrition, self-care, and joyful movement to help people achieve their healthy self.
Erica has been a registered dietitian for six years and has worked at a concierge health and wellness practice that tested genetics, microbiome, saliva and blood lab markers and has also worked in a hospital and outpatient settings.