Some foods may help improve your liver function and reduce damage caused by liver disease. These foods may include avocados, fish, and olive oil, among others.

The liver is your body’s largest solid organ. It functions like a filter system, helping your body get rid of toxins while also harvesting nutrients from the foods you eat.

However, if you have a condition such as cirrhosis or hepatitis C, your liver may not be able to properly filter nutrients and waste as it should.

Fortunately, some foods may help boost your liver function.

Avocados are staples in many cuisines and may help improve liver health.

In a 2015 study, researchers reported that avocado may help lower blood lipids, or fats, and help prevent liver damage in people with nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD).

Similarly, the authors of a 2019 review of available research suggest that avocados contain phenols, which are monounsaturated fatty acids. These may help lower your risk of metabolic syndrome, cardiovascular disease, and NAFLD.

A 2022 study in 60 rats found that avocado oil helped decrease NAFLD. This was done by reducing inflammation and oxidative stress and improving mitochondrial function.

That said, more research is needed to support the benefits of eating avocados for people with NAFLD.

Coffee is sometimes considered the magic bean for liver disease.

In a 2021 study of nearly 500,00 people, researchers found that drinking all types of coffee reduced the risk of developing liver disease (LD) or fatty liver disease (FLD) by nearly 20%. Drinking coffee was also associated with lowering the risk of death from LD by 49%.

Drinking coffee may also decrease the amount of abnormal liver enzymes in your body.

The key to such benefits is to drink coffee daily with no added sugar, sweeteners, or artificial creamers. Some alternatives may include dairy milk, almond milk, or cocoa powder.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recommends drinking a maximum of four to five 8-ounce (237 millimeters) cups per day or 400 milligrams (mg) of caffeine. That said, the safe amount may differ from person to person.

In the 2021 study above, drinking more than 3 or 4 cups of coffee daily seemed to provide slightly less liver protection.

Oily types of fish such as salmon, tuna, and mackerel may provide underlying benefits to your liver health.

A 2021 study compared people who consumed fish oil supplements with those who did not. The researchers found that people who consumed fish oil supplements had a:

  • 44% lower risk of all liver cancers
  • 52% lower risk of hepatocellular carcinoma
  • 40% lower risk of intrahepatic cholangiocarcinoma

Oily fish are also high in omega-3 fatty acids.

According to a 2016 review of available research, people with NALFD may benefit by taking omega-3 fatty acid supplements. These supplements may help by:

  • reducing inflammation
  • enhancing insulin sensitivity
  • lowering levels of triglycerides
  • lowering liver fat
  • optimizing HDL (good) cholesterol and liver enzymes

Omega-3 fatty acids are also good for heart and brain health.

Olive oil has been found to improve heart health when consumed over a long period of time.

Research from 2018 notes that extra virgin olive oil (EVOO) may have several liver-protecting properties.

Due to the monounsaturated fatty acids in EVOO, it may also help protect your liver from damage by decreasing:

  • inflammation
  • oxidative stress
  • endoplasmic reticulum stress
  • mitochondrial dysfunction
  • insulin resistance

A 2015 review of nine trials suggests that olive oil may also help reduce liver enzymes and liver fat that contribute to disease.

Olive oil is high in calories, so you may want to use it in moderation. You can try:

  • sprinkling olive oil on salads instead of fatty dressings
  • sautéing vegetables with it
  • roasting root vegetables in the oven with a drizzle of the oil

Nuts are nutrient-dense snacks that are also high in healthy fats.

A 2019 study involving nearly 24,000 people found that those who ate more nuts had a smaller risk of NALFD.

The authors note that nuts may also help reduce inflammation, oxidative stress, and insulin resistance, which can be beneficial for the liver.

According to the 2015 review, walnuts are amongst the most beneficial for reducing fatty liver disease. Compared with other nuts, walnuts have:

  • a higher antioxidant and fatty acid content
  • the most omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids
  • the most polyphenol antioxidants

In a 2021 study, participants were provided 28 grams (1 ounce) of walnuts every day as part of a Mediterranean diet. People who ate walnuts at least five or six times a week had significantly greater liver fat loss than those who ate walnuts less often. This fat loss was associated with overall anti-inflammatory and metabolic health benefits.

To get these potential benefits, try sprinkling walnuts on top of salads, oatmeal, or plain yogurt.

Complex carbohydrates are metabolized slower than refined carbs and typically prevent wide fluctuations in blood sugar.

Refined carbs have been associated with an increase in NALFD. In particular, foods that are high in fructose, glucose, and saturated fat.

Complex or unrefined carbs have essential nutrients, such as zinc, B vitamins, and higher fiber levels, which are all important for a healthy liver and metabolism.

A whole food diet high in protein, fiber, and unsaturated fats may be beneficial for people with NALFD. Some whole-grain carbs include:

  • wild rice
  • whole wheat bread and pasta
  • brown rice
  • whole oats
  • rye
  • corn
  • bulgur

Certain liver conditions may require a more specialized diet. In some cases, people with advanced liver disease may not be able to absorb the fats they eat and may have to limit oils and fatty fish.

Typically, healthcare professionals recommend that people with hemochromatosis, a condition in which there is too much iron in the body, avoid consuming iron. Those with hepatitis C may also need to limit their intake of iron and salt.

Speak with a healthcare professional if you lose a lot of weight in a short amount of time despite eating liver-friendly foods. This could mean that your liver isn’t processing nutrients effectively.

A healthcare professional may also help you develop a diet plan that’s right for you. If you have fatty liver disease, they may recommend losing weight or avoiding alcohol if you have liver damage related to alcohol use.