Diet plays a key role in maintaining liver health. Many foods contain compounds that have been shown to help improve liver enzymes, protect against fat buildup, and decrease inflammation and oxidative stress.

The liver is responsible for body processes from producing proteins, cholesterol, and bile to storing vitamins, minerals, and even carbohydrates.

It also breaks down toxins like alcohol, medications, and natural byproducts of metabolism. Keeping your liver in good shape is important for maintaining health.

This article lists 11 of the best foods to eat to help keep your liver healthy.

1. Coffee

Coffee is one of the best beverages you can drink to promote liver health.

Studies have shown that drinking coffee protects the liver from disease, even among those who already have health concerns related to this organ.

For example, studies in a 2016 research review have shown that drinking coffee helps lower the risk of cirrhosis, or permanent liver damage, in people with chronic liver disease.

Drinking coffee may also help reduce the risk of developing a common type of liver cancer, according to a 2016 research review. It also has positive effects on liver disease and inflammation.

The researchers found that it’s even associated with a lower risk of death in people with chronic liver disease. The greatest benefits are seen in people who drink at least 3 cups of coffee daily.

These benefits seem to stem from its ability to prevent the buildup of fat and collagen, the 2016 review suggests. Fat and collagen are two of the main markers of liver disease.

Coffee also increases levels of the antioxidant glutathione. Antioxidants neutralize harmful free radicals, which are produced naturally in the body and can damage cells.

2. Tea

Tea is widely considered to be beneficial for health, but evidence has shown that it may have particular benefits for the liver.

A 2020 review of 15 studies found that green tea reduced levels of liver enzymes in people with nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD).

Another study had similar findings, reporting that supplementing with green tea extract for 12 weeks significantly reduced liver enzymes alanine aminotransferase (ALT) and aspartate aminotransferase (AST) in people with NAFLD.

Plus, a 2017 review found that people who drank green tea were less likely to develop liver cancer. The lowest risk was seen in people who drank four or more daily cups.

Nevertheless, some people, especially those with liver problems, should exercise caution and talk with a doctor before consuming green tea as a supplement.

There have been several reports of liver damage resulting from using supplements containing green tea extract.

3. Grapefruit

Grapefruit contains antioxidants that naturally protect the liver. The two main antioxidants found in grapefruit are naringenin and naringin.

The protective effects of grapefruit are known to occur in two ways — by reducing inflammation and protecting cells.

According to a 2023 analysis, studies have also shown that these antioxidants can help reduce the development of hepatic fibrosis. Hepatic fibrosis is a harmful condition in which excessive connective tissue builds up in the liver. This typically results from chronic inflammation.

The effects of grapefruit or grapefruit juice itself, rather than its components, have not been studied. Additionally, almost all studies looking at the antioxidants in grapefruit have been conducted in animals, according to the 2023 analysis.

Nevertheless, the current evidence suggests that grapefruit may benefit liver health by helping prevent damage and inflammation.

4. Blueberries and cranberries

Blueberries and cranberries contain anthocyanins, which are antioxidants that give berries their distinctive colors. They’ve also been linked to many health benefits.

One 2021 study found that taking a cranberry supplement for six months improved hepatic steatosis, or fatty liver, in people with NAFLD.

What’s more, blueberry extract has been shown to inhibit the growth of human liver cancer cells in test-tube studies. But more studies are needed to determine whether this effect can be replicated in humans.

Making these berries a regular part of your diet is a good way to help make sure your liver is supplied with the antioxidants it needs to stay healthy.

5. Grapes

Grapes, especially red and purple grapes, contain various beneficial plant compounds that may benefit liver health.

A 2020 study in rats suggests that grapes and grape juice can have various benefits, though it’s unclear whether the results of animal studies mean the same in humans.

Benefits may include:

  • lowering inflammation
  • preventing cell damage
  • increasing antioxidant levels

Yet, a 2022 study suggests that eating grape products doesn’t have a significant effect on liver enzymes and may not help improve liver function.

More studies are needed before taking grapeseed extract to promote liver health can be recommended.

6. Prickly pear

Prickly pear (Opuntia ficus-indica) is a popular type of edible cactus. People commonly consume the fruit and its juice.

It has long been used in traditional medicine as a treatment for the following conditions:

  • wounds
  • fatigue
  • digestive issues
  • liver disease

A 2016 study found that the extract of this plant might help manage symptoms of a hangover.

Prickly pear might also protect the liver from alcohol toxicity, with its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties.

More human studies are needed, especially using prickly pear fruit and juice rather than extract. But studies so far have demonstrated that prickly pear positively affects the liver.

7. Beetroot juice

Beetroot juice is a source of nitrates and antioxidants called betalains.

Animal studies have shown that beet juice may help reduce oxidative damage and inflammation of the liver.

However, while animal studies look promising, more studies are needed to confirm the benefits of beetroot juice on human liver health.

8. Cruciferous vegetables

Cruciferous vegetables are known for their high fiber content and distinctive taste. They’re also rich in beneficial plant compounds.

Some examples of cruciferous vegetables include:

Studies suggest that cruciferous vegetables contain certain compounds that alter the detoxification process and protect against harmful compounds.

In a 2016 study, mice that were fed broccoli developed fewer tumors or fatty liver disease than the mice in the control group.

Though human studies are limited, cruciferous vegetables look promising as a beneficial food for liver health.

9. Nuts

Nuts are rich in several key nutrients, including:

These nutrients are responsible for several health benefits.

A 2019 study found a diet higher in nuts to be associated with a reduced risk of NAFLD.

While more high quality studies are needed, preliminary data points to nuts being an important food group for liver health.

10. Fatty fish

Fatty fish contain omega-3 fatty acids, which are healthy fats that help reduce inflammation and have been associated with a lower risk of heart disease.

A 2016 analysis found that omega-3 fatty acids helped lower liver fat and triglycerides in those with NAFLD or nonalcoholic steatohepatitis.

While consuming omega-3-rich fatty fish appears to be beneficial for your liver, adding more omega-3 fats to your diet is not the only thing to consider.

The ratio of omega-3 fats to omega-6 fats is also important.

Most people exceed the intake recommendations for omega-6 fats, which are found in many plant oils and butter.

An omega-6 to omega-3 ratio that’s too high can promote the development of liver disease, according to one animal study.

So, in addition to adding more heart-healthy omega-3 fats to your diet, it may also be a good idea to reduce your intake of omega-6 fats that promote inflammation.

11. Olive oil

Olive oil is considered a healthy fat because of its many health benefits, including positive effects on the heart and metabolic health.

It also positively affects the liver.

According to a study from 2018, following a Mediterranean diet rich in olive oil could be associated with a reduced risk of fatty liver in older adults.

Several other studies have found similar effects of olive oil consumption in humans, including less fat accumulation in the liver and improved blood levels of liver enzymes.

Fat accumulation in the liver is part of the first stage of liver disease. That’s why olive oil’s positive effects on liver fat, as well as other aspects of health, make it a valuable part of a healthy diet.

Including more nutrient-dense foods in your diet is a simple but effective way to improve the health of your liver.

This is because many foods contain compounds like antioxidants, which can support liver health by reducing inflammation, easing oxidative stress, and preventing cell damage.

Some foods are also high in fiber, which can help promote weight management and ensure that your liver is functioning properly.

Additionally, other foods may contain nutrients like protein or healthier fats, which could be beneficial for the treatment or prevention of other conditions associated with liver disease, such as diabetes.

In addition to making changes to your diet, you can take several other to keep your liver healthy.

A few examples include:

  • Reach and maintain a moderate weight: Being overweight or having obesity can increase the risk of NAFLD. Maintaining a moderate weight may help support liver function.
  • Stay active: Exercising regularly can help lower triglycerides and reduce liver fat.
  • Moderate your alcohol intake: Consuming high amounts of alcohol can negatively affect liver function and cause liver damage. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends limiting alcohol intake to one drink per day for women and two drinks per day for men.
  • Practice good hygiene: Washing your hands after using the bathroom and before eating or preparing food can help prevent certain infections that can damage the liver, including hepatitis.
  • Use barrier methods: Having sex without a condom or other barriers can increase the risk of hepatitis B or hepatitis C.

What foods should I eat with liver problems?

Many foods contain specific compounds or antioxidants that have been shown to support liver function. A few examples include grapefruit, blueberries, cranberries, fatty fish, olive oil, and cruciferous vegetables like broccoli or Brussels sprouts.

What foods should I not eat if I have liver problems?

Consuming certain foods in excess is associated with an increased risk for NAFLD. You should try to limit your intake of the following foods to help keep your liver healthy:

What can I drink to flush my liver?

Though it is not possible to “flush” or detoxify the liver, there are many antioxidant-rich beverages that can help support liver health. In particular, some studies in humans and animals suggest that green tea, coffee, and beetroot juice may help promote liver function.

Your liver is an important organ with many essential functions, and it’s recommended that you do what you can to protect it.

The 11 foods listed above have demonstrated beneficial effects on the liver. These benefits include the following:

  • a lowered risk of liver disease and cancer
  • higher antioxidant and detoxification enzyme levels
  • protection against harmful toxins

Incorporating these foods into your diet is a natural and healthy way to help keep your liver functioning at its best.