Fatty liver is the result of the accumulation of excess fat in the liver. The first line of treatment to help treat fatty liver is a healthy diet. Fatty liver is one of the major occupational lifestyle diseases and can becaused by alcohol abuse, an unhealthy lifestyle, and/or genetics (1). According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, death rates for liver disease and cirrhosis have increased by about 31% for those aged 45 to 64 years old between 2000 and 2015 (2).
The early symptoms of an unhealthy liver are bad breath, bloating, indigestion, sudden weight loss, and premature graying of hair (3), (4), (5). However, many fatty liver patients do not show signs and symptoms until it’s too late. That’s why you should be extra cautious and improve your diet and lifestyle. Here are some foods and a diet plan that can protect you from fatty liver. But first, let’s understand how the liver and body functions are affected if you have fatty liver.
How Does Fatty Liver Affect The Liver?
Fatty liver can disrupt the main function of the liver, which is to remove toxins from your body. The liver is the second largest organ, and it filters the blood and metabolizes drugs and other chemicals. However, excess alcohol consumption and medical conditions like diabetes type 2, insulin resistance, genetic disease, and a sedentary lifestyle can prevent the body from metabolizing the glucose properly. In turn, excess glucose can be stored in the liver as fat.
There are two types of fatty liver:
- Alcoholic fatty liver – Due to overconsumption of alcohol
- Non-alcoholic fatty liver – Due to genes, a metabolic disorder, and/or a sedentary lifestyle. This is commonly known as NAFLD (Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease). NASH or Non-Alcoholic Steatohepatitis is a form of NAFLD that is caused when overaccumulation of fat causes inflammation, leading to liver damage if not treated on time.
If you do not make an immediate change to your diet and start being active, your liver may develop cirrhosis, cancer, or liver disease. Here is a list of foods to eat and avoid to improve the condition of your liver. Take a look.
11 Foods To Consume To Treat Fatty Liver
Fatty fish are loaded with omega-3 fatty acids that help reduce inflammation and induce weight loss by restoring the ratio of omega-3 to omega-6 to normal levels. Scientists have proved that consuming fish rich in omega-3 fatty acids can help reduce the fat in the liver. It is a great way to treat NAFLD and NASH (6).
Consume wild-caught salmon, mackerel, silver carp, and hilsa to lose weight and excess fat in the liver and, in turn, help reduce stress in the body.
2. Olive Oil
Olive oil improves the blood lipid profile, boosts glucose metabolism, and increases glucose sensitivity. Olive oil is a great source of monounsaturated fatty acids that help patients with NAFLD improve their condition (7).
Consume 4-5 tablespoons of olive oil per day. Use it to make “slim” salad dressings, roast, bake, and make stir-fried veggies.
This buttery and mild-flavored fruit is loaded with monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFAs). MUFAs help reduce inflammation and inflammation-induced weight gain, decrease bad cholesterol (LDL) levels and triglycerides in the blood, and increase good cholesterol (HDL cholesterol) (8). Hence, avocados are great for weight loss (9). And when you lose weight overall, the fat on the liver also reduces.
Scientific research has proven that walnuts are great sources of antioxidants and healthy fats. They help decrease hepatic triglycerides, reduce inflammation, and increase insulin sensitivity (10). In another study by French scientists, walnuts helped reduce hepatic fat accumulation (11).
Consume walnuts on a regular basis by adding them to your breakfast smoothies or oatmeal bowl.
Tofu is a good source of protein and antioxidants. Scientists evaluated its hepatoprotective properties and found that regular consumption of tofu decreased bad cholesterol levels, reduced weight, and increased total protein and albumin concentrations (12).
Consume tofu for lunch or dinner by grilling it or tossing a few cubes in your salad bowl.
6. Vegetables And Fruits
Consuming veggies and fruits on a daily basis can help reduce your fat percentage, which will ultimately lead to the reduction of fat in the liver. Consume a variety of colorful veggies and fruits each day so that you can reap the health benefits from the different kinds of nutrients found in each food.
Also, make sure you consume four servings of five different veggies and three servings of three different fruits every day. In a short period of time, you can lose some weight, and your liver can also start recovering (13).
7. Green Tea
Green tea is one of the best beverages for weight loss. This refreshing tea is a storehouse of antioxidants that help reduce hepatic inflammation, induce reduction of fat in the liver, and decrease the levels of liver enzymes present in patients with NAFLD (14), (15).
Consume 3-4 cups of green tea per day to help get rid of the excess fat.
Garlic is a superfood. The compound allicin in garlic is a potent antioxidant and can protect you from various diseases, including alcoholic and non-alcoholic fatty liver. It works by reducing inflammation, flushing out toxins, and reducing fat mass in the body (16), (17).
It is best to consume one clove of raw garlic in the morning. Or, if you prefer, you can add garlic to soups, salad dressings, and stir-fries.
9. Sunflower Seeds
Sunflower seeds are loaded with MUFAs or monounsaturated fatty acids. Also, they are great sources of dietary fiber and copper. Research shows that consuming sunflower seeds could help reduce oxidative stress and treat NAFLD (18).
Add sunflower seeds to smoothies or breakfast bowls or consume a handful of them before or after working out.
Oatmeal is a popular weight loss food as it is a great source of dietary fiber and omega-3 fatty acids. Consuming oatmeal regularly can help you lose the excess fat, in turn, helping to revert NAFLD (19).
Prepare oatmeal with milk and add honey or a pinch of salt (yes, it tastes good) instead of sugar. Add some berries and nuts to keep you full for a long duration and energize you. You can also prepare vegetable oats with carrot, broccoli, and mushrooms and have it for lunch or dinner.
Broccoli is an antioxidant-rich cruciferous vegetable that is “loved” by all (wink). Jokes aside, consuming broccoli on a regular basis can help reduce body fat and flush out toxins. Scientists found that broccoli helped lower hepatic triglycerides and hepatic macrophages, thereby protecting liver health (20).
Consume a small cup of blanched or grilled broccoli for lunch or dinner to help prevent further deterioration of fatty liver.
These are the top 11 foods that will protect your liver. You must also be aware of the foods you should avoid to prevent fatty liver. Here’s the list of foods you should not consume for optimal liver health.
7 Foods To Avoid To Treat Fatty Liver
Overconsumption of alcohol leads to hepatic steatosis, which can lead to cirrhosis and cancer. The first thing that you must do is limit your alcohol consumption. If you have been diagnosed with fatty liver, you must abandon your alcohol habits immediately and stay alcohol-free for at least three weeks.
Sugar can be very addictive and, in turn, can contribute to weight gain and insulin resistance. Also, when you don’t change your diet, it can lead to NAFLD. Therefore, it is best to limit or avoid the consumption of refined sugar. Instead, use a natural sweetener like honey since it contains trace amounts of antioxidants and raises blood sugar levels less quickly than sugar.
3. White Bread
White bread is a high glycemic index food, and is digested quickly. That’s why it is so easy to overconsume white bread without even realizing it. The end result? Fat accumulation in various parts of the body. If not kept in check, it can lead to fatty liver. Consume whole grain, homemade bread instead of store-bought, white bread.
4. Red Meat
Consuming excessive amounts of red meat can put your cardiovascular health at risk because it is high in saturated fat and can lead to an increase in triglycerides and LDL cholesterol.
5. Trans Fats
Trans fats are present in many fried foods, biscuits, and crackers (click here for the complete list). Overconsumption of these foods can lead to obesity, diabetes, and NAFLD.
Soda is loaded with sugar. The more sugar you consume, the more you are at the risk of being obese and developing fatty liver. Therefore, stop consuming soda (including diet soda) and drink healthier, lower sugar beverages like coconut water, water, green tea, lemon-infused water, or black coffee instead.
Excess salt can cause water retention in the body that can hinder glucose metabolism, leading to obesity, diabetes, and fatty liver. Therefore, use minimum amounts of salt in your food to protect your liver.
It’s easy to see that eating healthy is the ONLY way to prevent fatty liver and protect your liver from further deterioration. If you are struggling to follow a healthy eating schedule, here’s a diet chart for you.
Sample Fatty Liver Diet Plan
|Meal||What To Consume|
(6:00 -7:00 a.m.)
|1 cup warm water with juice of half a lime + 1 clove of garlic|
(6:45 – 7:45 a.m.)
|½ avocado on one slice of whole grain bread toast + 1 cup black coffee/green tea|
(12:30 – 1:00 p.m.)
|Grilled tofu salad + 1 cup coconut water|
|1 cup green tea + 1/2 cup boiled Bengal gram|
|Poached salmon and grilled veggies|
This diet will give you the following benefits.
Benefits Of Fatty Liver Diet
- Helps you lose weight.
- Protects you from diabetes.
- Lowers LDL cholesterol.
- Keeps you energized and active all day long.
- Improves liver function.
The fatty liver diet can help you in many ways – apart from preventing fat accumulation in the liver. Once you start this diet, eat healthy, and stay active, you will begin protecting your liver and will help extend your quality and quantity of life. Take care!
1.“Occupational lifestyle diseases: An emerging issue” US National Library of Medicine
2.“QuickStats: Death Rates* for Chronic Liver Disease and Cirrhosis,† by Sex and Age Group — National Vital Statistics System, United States, 2000 and 2015” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
4.“Epidemiological and Investigative Study of Premature Graying of Hair in Higher Secondary and Pre-University School Children.” US National Library of Medicine
5.“Gastrointestinal dysfunction in liver cirrhosis.” US National Library of Medicine
6.“Effects of Omega-3 Fatty Acid in Nonalcoholic Fatty Liver Disease: A Meta-Analysis.”US National Library of Medicine
7.“Olive oil consumption and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease.”US National Library of Medicine
8.“Dietary recommendations for patients with nonalcoholic fatty liver disease.” US National Library of Medicine
9.“Hass Avocado Composition and Potential Health Effects.”US National Library of Medicine
11.“Dietary walnut oil modulates liver steatosis in the obese Zucker rat.” US National Library of Medicine
12.“Antioxidant and Hepatoprotective Properties of Tofu (Curdle Soymilk) against Acetaminophen-Induced Liver Damage in Rats.”US National Library of Medicine
13.“Health Benefits of Fruits and Vegetables.”US National Library of Medicine
14.“Therapeutic benefits of green tea extract on various parameters in non-alcoholic fatty liver disease patients.”US National Library of Medicine
15.“The Effect of Green Tea Extract Supplementation on Liver Enzymes in Patients with Nonalcoholic Fatty Liver Disease.” US National Library of Medicine
16.“Diet Supplementation with Allicin Protects against Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease in Mice by Improving Anti-inflammation and Antioxidative Functions.”US National Library of Medicine
18.“Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease and Nutritional Implications: Special Focus on Copper” US National Library of Medicine
19.“Increasing Whole Grain Intake as Part of Prevention and Treatment of Nonalcoholic Fatty Liver Disease” US National Library of Medicine
20.“Dietary Broccoli Lessens Development of Fatty Liver and Liver Cancer in Mice Given Diethylnitrosamine and Fed a Western or Control Diet”US National Library of Medicine
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