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If you were to make a list of the most important organs in our body, the usual suspects would probably come to mind. Your heart, brain and kidneys would likely top that list. However, you might forget about one organ that is absolutely vital to living a healthy life — your liver.
Not only is your liver the second largest organ in your body, it performs more than 500 functions that keep your body at its best. From processing and storing nutrients to balancing blood sugar, fueling muscles, regulating blood clotting and filtering toxins from your bloodstream, your liver is always hard at work.
With that in mind, let’s take a deep dive into the foods that love your liver and the foods your liver would love for you to forget.
#1 – Oatmeal
Foods like oatmeal which are rich in fiber put your liver on the fast track to better health. Research has demonstrated the power of fiber in helping you shed extra pounds lurking around your belly, hips and thighs, which is a great way to keep your liver functioning at its best and ward off a fatty liver.
#2 – Broccoli
Eating plenty of fresh veggies is a must to guard your liver against disease. And broccoli is one of the best. That’s because when your body metabolizes cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli, DIM or DI-indole-methane is created. This molecule regulates the actions of a number of key proteins associated with inflammation, immunity, cellular health and even hormone metabolism — making it a liver health powerhouse.
#3 – Coffee
If you can’t start your day without the jolt of caffeine from your favorite morning beverage, no worries! Studies have actually shown that coffee is liver-protective thanks to two ingredients — kahweol and cafestol. These diterpenes reduce oxidative stress and increase the expression of glutathione, your body’s most important antioxidant. Just be sure to go for ground coffee rather than instant, since it offers higher levels of both.
#4 – Green tea
Green tea is a major source of antioxidants known as catechins. One of these catechins — epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG) has been shown in research to exile hepatitis from the liver. And green tea is well-known for the protection it offers against some types of cancer, including that of the liver, due to its ability to increase levels of a natural anticancer protein known as p53.
#5 – Almonds
Almonds are especially rich in vitamin E, an antioxidant that according to research published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, may lower the risk of liver cancer. Other nuts that are superfoods for your health include walnuts, pistachios, cashews and Brazil nuts.
#6 – Asparagus
Alcohol damages your liver by causing cell toxicity and oxidative stress. However, research has shown that the minerals and amino acids in asparagus provide potent hangover prevention while guarding liver cells against toxins.
#7 – Blueberries
Fruits such as blueberries and plums and even rich indulgences such as dark chocolate are packed with compounds known as polyphenols. These compounds not only help keep your health in check by working to lower your blood pressure, boost your immune system, and fuel your brain, they may also help nonalcoholic fatty liver disease. You can increase their health effects 10 times by pairing them with milk!
Keep these foods far from your liver
Some of the most important foods to avoid to keep your liver healthy are foods that are high in saturated fats. Whether it’s French fries, potato chips or burgers, these fats make your liver work harder, accelerating inflammation which can lead to liver scarring or cirrhosis.
Sugar might taste sweet but it’s not a sweet choice for liver health. In fact, your liver has the job of converting the sugar you eat into fat. This means that the more sugar you eat, the more fat your liver makes and the more that can stick around inside the organ causing fatty liver disease. And if you have prediabetes or prediabetes, sugar can double your risk for fatty liver. This also makes it easy to see why high sugar intake is directly linked to liver cancer.
Unfortunately, this also holds true for a sugar you might consider healthy since it comes from fruit — fructose.
We all know that drinking too much, even if only occasionally, is one of the worst things you can do to your liver. The key is to stick to just one drink per day if you’re a woman or two for men.
And always drink plenty of water, rather than fruit juices or sodas which are packed with sugar, in order to keep your body hydrated and your liver at its best.
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