Ten Foods for a Healthy Liver

by: Angela Hermes, RD

It can be argued that the liver is one of the most important organs in the body. It has numerous responsibilities. It produces bile, which is necessary for the proper digestion of fats. It stores glucose in the form of glycogen, which can be used for energy when needed. The liver stores certain vitamins and produces co-factors which are necessary for blood clotting. Perhaps one of the liver’s most important roles is detoxification.  It plays a huge role in transforming and removing toxins from our bodies.

Eating a variety of fresh, alkaline foods, including plenty of fruits and vegetables is essential for keeping your liver healthy.  Dr. Sandra Cabot, M.D., who is also known as “the liver doctor” advises us to “Eat plentiful amounts of raw fruits and vegetables, especially dark green leafy vegetables and orange, yellow, purple and red colored fruits and vegetables. [At least] thirty to forty percent of the diet should consist of raw fruits and vegetables.” 

Try adding some of these foods to your diet to keep your liver healthy throughout your life:

  • Apples: Apples provide an excellent source of pectin. Pectin is a type of fiber which binds with toxins and aids in excreting them from the body. This helps to reduce the amount of detoxification that is needed to be completed by the liver.

  • Avocadoes:  Avocadoes contain essential fatty acids, which are absolutely necessary for healthy cell membranes. The liver requires abundant amounts of essential fatty acids to function properly. This is one of the reasons why diets which are extremely low in fat can be dangerous.

  • Bitter greens: Bitter leafy salad greens such as mustard greens; watercress, chicory, and endive help to stimulate bile flow in the liver.

  • Brazil nuts: Brazil nuts provide one of the best sources of selenium. Selenium is a mineral, which is an important antioxidant nutrient. Antioxidant nutrients help to protect our liver cells from free radical damage.

  • Carob: Carob offers a good source of arginine. Arginine is an amino acid, which aids the liver in the detoxification of ammonia. Ammonia is a by-product of protein metabolism.

  • Dandelion greens and root: Dandelion root is considered to be one of the most beneficial liver remedies. Dandelion has been found to promote the liver in numerous ways. It improves the flow of bile, which is beneficial for relieving bile duct inflammation, hepatitis, jaundice, and gall stones.

  • Garlic: Garlic contains methionine, which is necessary for detoxification.

  • Onions: Onions contain sulphur compounds. Sulphur compounds are important for aiding the liver in detoxification.

  • Orange: oranges and other citrus fruits provide an excellent source of vitamin C. Vitamin C is an important antioxidant nutrient which protects our liver cells from free radical damage.

  • Sunflower Seeds: Sunflower seeds provide an excellent source of vitamin E. The primary role of vitamin E is to protect cell membranes from oxidative damage. It does this by preventing fats from being damaged by free radicals, which would lead to their becoming rancid. Cell membranes are comprised primarily of fats, which is why vitamin E, a fat soluble antioxidant, is so important for their protection.  Vitamin E protects our liver cells and is especially important for individuals suffering from fatty liver disease.

The most vital thing to remember when eating for a healthy liver is to include plenty of variety in your daily diet. Consuming plenty of fresh fruits, vegetables, legumes, grains, nuts, and seeds is the best way to provide your body with the nutrients you need to keep all of your organs healthy. It is also important to remember to use alcohol and coffee in moderation, as these items do not offer nutritional benefits to the body but do put stress on the liver.

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  • Cabot, Sandra. "VITAL PRINCIPLES - THE LIVER DIET." The Liver Diet. 2009. LiverDoctor.com. 13Mar2009 www.liverdoctor.com/index.php?page=liver-diet
  • Murray, Michael and Joseph Pizzorno. The Encyclopedia of healing Foods. New York: Atria Books, 2005.
  • Pitchford, Paul. Healing with whole foods. Berkeley: North Atlantic Books, 1993.


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These statements have not been evaluated by the food and drug administration.  The preceding information and/or products are for educational purposes only and are not meant to diagnose, prescribe, or treat illness. Please consult your doctor before making any changes or before starting ANY exercise or nutritional supplement program or before using this information or any product during pregnancy or if you have a serious medical condition.

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