The liver is responsible for proper detoxification, breaks down proteins, and it is necessary for optimal digestion. The liver, pancreas, and gallbladder work closely together in the body to absorb and digest food (7).
Many foods can help to promote liver health and further detoxification (8). Vitamins and minerals that are important to keep a healthy liver include vitamins A, D, E, B12, and iron to name a few (9).
When you have a healthy liver that can properly detoxify, other areas of your health improve. With a healthy liver, you have less of a chance of developing many chronic diseases, especially liver diseases, such as cirrhosis (1).
Avoiding certain foods and excess alcohol can help to promote a healthy liver, too (10). Try to stay away from processed foods high in fat, sugar-laden foods, and refined carbohydrates as much as possible.
Tip: Eating healthy foods rich in vitamins A, D, E, B12, and iron, and reducing intake of alcohol, can help support a healthy liver.
Table of Contents
Foods for Liver Health
Check out the list of foods below to see what foods for liver health can help you, and how you can add more of them to your diet today.
1. Cruciferous Vegetables
Cruciferous vegetables include broccoli, cauliflower, Brussel sprouts, cabbage, and more. Cruciferous means include any vegetable that is a part of the Brassicaceae or cabbage family.
These types of vegetables are great for your liver because they contain a compound called glucosinolate (12), which helps to promote detoxifying enzymes in the liver (11).
Leafy greens also have high amounts of chlorophyll (13), which can also help to further detoxify the liver. Chlorophyll can also help to reduce toxins from the bloodstream (2).
Add some of these nutrient-dense foods to your diet more often at breakfast, lunch, or dinner.
Tip: Sauté your favorite cruciferous vegetables in olive oil with salt and pepper for an easy side dish, or roast them in the oven to enhance their flavor.
2. Citrus Fruits
Citrus fruits have many powerful cleansing properties that benefit the liver because they are high in antioxidants (14), (15). Some you can start eating include lemons, grapefruit, oranges, and more.
They are also high in vitamin C, another vitamin that is essential in proper liver detoxification. Vitamin C can even help to protect against non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (3), (16).
Choose whichever citrus fruit you like the most, and try to change it up if you can. The more variety of healthy foods you have in your diet, the better your health will be in the end.
Tip: Add a spritz of citrus juice to flavor your salads or infuse in water. You can even use citrus fruits to season fish and prevent a “fishy” taste.
Berries are a potent food for the liver, because of their high number of antioxidants and vitamins (17). Blueberries, cranberries, mulberries, and raspberries are all included in this category.
There is evidence that berries can help to prevent liver cancer because of their antioxidant properties (4), (18). Berries are also a great choice for those who cannot eat too much sugar, even from fruit. They are all naturally low in fructose (19).
Eating more berries can even help to prevent chronic diseases and boost your immune system (20), (21). Adding sweet berries to your diet can be simple, and it takes no time. Throw them into a bowl of cereal, oatmeal, a smoothie, or simply snack on them plain. Your body will thank you for the many health benefits.
Tip: Toss frozen berries into a breakfast smoothie, snack on berries and nuts, or simply replace dessert with a fresh cup of berries and dark chocolate for a healthy sweet treat.
Beets are a powerful blood cleanser, so they are naturally a great choice to improve liver health and functioning (22).
They can help to reduce oxidative stress buildup in the body (23), which promotes the healing of the liver. When oxidative stress becomes too high in the body, room for disease grows (24).
Beetroot, beet juice, and raw beets are the most beneficial ways to get all the blood-cleaning benefits from this nutritious vegetable. It also makes a great coloring agent in smoothies or even desserts (5). Cooked beets also give potent health benefits, so do not feel like you need to always eat them raw or in juice (25).
Tip: Toss some cooked beets into your next breakfast smoothie, or add a side of roasted beets in olive oil for a flavorful, nutrient-rich side dish.
5. Nuts and Seeds
Many nuts and seeds are high in vitamin E, magnesium, vitamin B6, niacin, and folate (26). All these B vitamins play a crucial role in absorbing B12. An adequate amount of B12 is necessary to maintain the healthy functioning of the liver (27).
Seeds are an excellent source of protein, healthy fats, and they can prevent inflammation in the body, too (28). Snack on nuts and seeds like sunflower seeds, brazil nuts, almonds, cashews, chia seeds, flaxseeds, pine nuts, and more.
You can add nuts and seeds to many meals, whether they are in your next sweet potato medley or your favorite bread and salad. You can even sprinkle them on your favorite protein shake or soup.
Tip: Make your own trail mix snack by combining almonds, cashews, walnuts, pumpkin seeds, and dried cranberries and blueberries.
6. Olive Oil
Olive oil is full of healthy omega 3 fatty acids, which are important to keep the liver functioning well (29).
This oil can help to minimize fat production in the liver and produce better blood flow (6). It can also play a role in preventing non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (30).
Sprinkle some olive oil on fresh sliced tomatoes with fresh black pepper and salt for a delicious and nutritious snack. Or make your salad dressing with olive oil, maple syrup, balsamic vinaigrette, and mustard.
Avoid cooking with olive oil at high heats. Try to only use it for cooking at temperatures below 375 degrees. When olive oil reaches a heat too high, it can turn into free radicals in the body, which promotes more oxidative stress and disease (31).
Tip: Flavor your favorite salad with olive oil and vinegar, or add some herbs and spices to olive oil for a tasty and healthful bread dip.
Avocados are naturally high in healthy fats and fiber, which can both be beneficial at promoting liver health (32), (33).
They are also high in essential vitamins and minerals that promote further healing in the body. It is important to understand that not all foods high in healthy fat are good to eat a lot of (33).
Everyone is different in the amount of food that they need to stay well, but avocados are an easy fruit to eat too much of. They can be a strong health-promoting food in moderation. Try to only eat a quarter of an avocado with a meal to minimize overeating. Too much of even a good thing can cause more harm than good.
Tip: Mash up an avocado and use in plate of butter on toast, or add it to smoothies for added nutrition and a creamy texture.
8. Fatty Fish
Fatty fish are full of heart-healthy omega 3 fatty acids that are also beneficial for promoting liver health (34). That is because healthy fats in fish can help to enhance liver fat cells and even reduce inflammation (35).
Fatty fish include salmon, sardines, mackerel, anchovies, tuna, and more. Choose these types of fish for the most part and try to include other fish less frequently. Although shellfish like oysters and lobsters can be a healthy part of a balanced diet too.
Is it time to start adding more fatty fish to your diet? See where you can add some fish to your lunch or dinner more often and start getting the health benefits for optimal liver function.
Tip: Fish is very easy to cook. Simply sauté it in avocado oil with a spritz of lemon, balsamic vinegar, salt, and pepper.
Legumes can help to promote liver health because they can too much fat from storing in the liver (36).
Legumes to start adding to your diet include black-eyed peas, chickpeas, all types of beans, peanuts, and lentils. Legumes are also an excellent source of protein, so adding them to your diet can help with much more than liver health (37).
Need a break from your typical meat? Try lentils to get all nine essential amino acids that meat provides.
Tip: Make a “meatless meal” once a week to add more legumes to your diet. Lentil stew, chickpea burgers, and chili made with beans are all great choices.
To maintain a healthy liver, it is essential to eat a healthy balanced diet, minimize oils, processed foods, and alcohol consumption.
Fatty liver disease can develop from a poor diet as well as excess alcohol (10).
Do you feel like you get enough food each day to promote a healthy liver? See where you can start adding these foods to your diet today.