Here are the best foods to help keep this important organ in tip-top condition.
A functioning liver processes food, detoxifies your body, makes important proteins and keeps you healthy all-round. Yet, more and more Singaporeans are getting fatty liver disease, no thanks to obesity, belly fat, high cholesterol and other chronic health conditions.
The good news is that the fatty liver disease can be reversed. But if it doesn’t get nipped in the bud, the condition can lead to liver inflammation, and permanent scarring and hardening. Ultimately, this puts you at a higher risk of liver cancer.
To keep your liver healthy, foods play a huge part. While avoiding baddies like alcohol and excessive fats, salt and sugar, be sure to load up on wholesome ingredients like the ones below.
(Also read: More Singaporeans Getting Fatty Liver Disease)
Dark green veggies – broccoli in particular – help to reduce the risk of nonalcoholic fatty liver. Animal studies have shown that broccoli sprout extract protects the liver by increasing the levels of detoxification enzymes. You don’t have to eat plain steamed broccoli – try tossing it in a salad, adding it to a baked dish or drizzling some sauce over it for added flavour.
(Also read: Get Your Boost of Healthy with Broccoli)
Spinach is another powerful green as it has an antioxidant called glutathione. This important substance reduces oxidative stress as it combats free radicals in your body. Plus, it is found to reduce cell damage in the liver. It definitely helps that spinach couldn’t be easier to prepare. It is a great salad base and can be tossed into fried rice or pasta dishes.
(Also read: The Healthy Way to Stir-Fry Vegetables)
Studies show that drinking one to three cups a day can protect your liver caused by excessive alcohol or an unhealthy diet. It reduces the risk of permanent liver damage for those who have chronic liver disease and reduces the risk of developing common liver cancer as it has positive effects on the disease and inflammation.
Maintaining a healthy weight is one of the best things you can do to have a healthy liver. By getting into the habit of having water instead of sweet drinks, your calorie and sugar intake will go down tremendously. Plus, water helps to flush out toxins, especially if you ate a fatty meal prior to this or after a night of drinking.
(Also read: How Much Sugar Is In Your Favourite Soft Drinks?)
Fibre-rich foods help to boost your liver’s performance because they help to keep you full for longer, which reduces fat around the midsection. It is important to keep your tummy trim to prevent liver disease. An easy way to get fibre in first thing in the morning is to have a bowl of oatmeal. Various toppings can be added and if you’re tight for time, you can make them the night before.
(Also read: Amazing Ways To Make Oatmeal A Savoury Dish)
Nuts are great sources of vitamin E, a nutrient that might help you to protect yourself against fatty liver disease. Almonds are also good for your heart and they are full of healthy fats, so when you want a snack, grab a handful of these instead of chips. This half-year study found that eating nuts were associated with improved levels of liver enzymes. You can also add them to salads for a crunch or as a garnish for other dishes.
(Also read: Should You Soak Your Almonds?)
This small but mighty berry is high in nutrients called polyphenols that can reduce the risk of nonalcoholic fatty liver disease, obesity and high cholesterol. They also contain anthocyanins, an antioxidant that gives them their colour. Having blueberries for just three to four weeks can increase liver protection, immune cell response, and antioxidant enzymes. It even slows down the growth of human liver cancer cells in test-tube studies, but it is still unknown if it is able to do the same in the human body. If you don’t like blueberries, opt for other foods rich in polyphenols such as dark chocolate, olives, and plums.
(Also read: 6 Delicious Acai Bowls in Singapore You Need to Try)
Herbs and spices
To protect both your liver and heart, sprinkle some oregano, sage, or rosemary on your meals. They are a good source of healthy polyphenols and the aromatic flavours help you to reduce your salt intake. Specific herbs including but not limited to artichoke, dandelion, and milk thistle help to cleanse and protect the liver.