The liver is important in helping your body remove toxins. You can think of your liver as a filter system that helps get rid of the bad byproducts, while also helping your body retain nutrients from the foods you eat.

When it comes to liver health, though, not all foods are created equal. This is especially true if you have a condition like cirrhosis or hepatitis C, which can make it difficult for your liver to filter foods and nutrients like it should.

Eating liver-friendly foods like the ones below can help lessen the damage caused by liver disease.

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1. Avocados

Avocados are staples in Central and South American cuisine. They are technically a part of the berry family, and offer many health benefits, including improved liver health.

One review took a look at the role of certain foods in people with non-alcoholic fatty liver disease. Researchers found that moderate consumption of avocados in the setting of a balanced diet is associated with weight loss and overall improved liver function tests.

People who eat avocados are also more likely to have lower body mass indexes (BMIs) and waist circumferences. People also had higher levels of high-density lipoproteins (HDL) or “good” cholesterol. It’s thought that some of these effects are related to the high fiber, healthy oil, and water content of avocados.

2. Coffee

Your daily cup of coffee may play an even more critical role to your health than you thought.

When it comes to your liver health, some studies suggest that coffee reduces the risk of cirrhosis, cancer, and fibrosis in the liver. Regular, moderate amounts may even help slow the course of current liver diseases.

The key to such benefits is to drink coffee daily and without added fatty creams and sugars. Instead, try swapping in almond milk, cinnamon, or cocoa powder.

3. Oily fish, such as salmon

Fish is an alternative to not-so-healthy meats like fatty cuts of pork and beef. Fish may also provide some underlying benefits to your liver health, especially oily types of fish.

Oily fish such as salmon can help reduce inflammation and fat buildup in the liver, while also promoting a lower overall BMI, according to a 2015 review. Oily fish is also high in omega-3 fatty acids, which are good for heart and brain health.

The authors of this review found oily fish was beneficial in reducing blood lipids when consumed two or more times per week. If you can’t eat fish, fish oil supplements may an option to discuss with your doctor.

4. Olive oil

Like avocados, olive oil has been found to help reduce the incidence of liver disease and cardiovascular diseases when consumed over a long period of time.

Studies have suggested that olive oil can help reduce liver enzymes that lead to liver disease. Long-term consumption of olive oil may even decrease low-density lipoproteins (LDL) or “bad” cholesterol levels, as well as triglycerides in the blood.

Olive oil is high in calories, so portion control is essential. You can sprinkle olive oil on salads in lieu of fatty dressings, sauté vegetables with it, or roast root vegetables in the oven with a drizzle of the oil. Olive oil can make your meals more filling so that you’ll also eat fewer calories, too.

5. Walnuts

Nuts, when consumed in small amounts, are nutrient-dense snacks that are also high in healthy fats. Aside from boosting cardiovascular health, nuts may also help reduce the incidence of liver disease.

Of all types of nuts, walnuts are the most beneficial for reducing fatty liver disease and overall body weight. This is thanks to their higher antioxidant and fatty acid content. Walnuts have the most omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids, as well as polyphenol antioxidants.

6. Complex carbohydrates

While you don’t want your whole diet to consist of carbohydrates, you do want to make sure that you’re eating a balance of carbs, protein, and healthy fats.

Complex carbohydrates are better than simple carbs because they’re metabolized slower and prevent wide fluctuations in insulin. Insulin is a hormone involved in sugar use and protein manufacture.

Nonrefined carbs also have essential nutrients like zinc and B vitamins, which are all important for a healthy liver and metabolism. The key to making sure you select the right kinds of carbs is to make sure they are whole grain. Examples include:

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

The takeaway

Your doctor is your best resource for knowing the best foods you can eat. For example, some people with advanced liver disease may not be able to absorb dietary fats and may have to limit cooking oils and fish from their diets. As a general rule, whole foods are the best for your liver, as well as the rest of your body.

You should also contact your doctor 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 and calories efficiently. Your doctor will advise you about any further changes you might need to make to your diet.