It's common knowledge that our livers play a vital role in processing alcohol and other drugs, like aspirin and ibuprofen. But this vital organ does far more than help your body recover from a boozy night out.
As Medical News Today reports, the liver is also responsible for "breaking down carbohydrates, making glucose, detoxing the body, storing nutrients, and creating bile," which is essential for proper digestion and nutrient absorption.
In other words, liver health very much determines overall health. If you're looking to cleanse and detoxify your body, your liver is a good place to start. Show this powerhouse organ some love by eating the below science-approved foods.
Studies show that the chemicals in caffeine and coffee, particularly paraxanthine, kahweol, and cafestol, can actually help your body fight illnesses like liver cancer, alcohol-related cirrhosis, non-alcohol-related fatty liver disease, and hepatitis C. One study published in the Journal of Hepatology even called coffee "the magical bean for liver disease."
Similarly, caffeinated tea can help stave off liver-related diseases. "Tea is widely considered to be beneficial for health, but evidence has shown that it may have particular benefits for the liver," writes Taylor Jones, RD, for Healthline. She references a Japanese study that linked five to 10 cups of green tea per day to improved blood markers of liver health.
Grapefruit's liver-protecting superpowers come from two main antioxidants: naringenin and naringin. Studies have found that these two compounds can slow the development of hepatic fibrosis, reduce the amount of fat in the liver, and improve the organ's ability to metabolize alcohol. Keep in mind that these studies were performed on animals and focus specifically on naringenin and naringin, rather than grapefruit as a whole.
Garlic is brimming with potent antioxidants that can help your liver process and flush out toxins. As Livestrong reports, the secret lies in the antioxidant allicin, amino acid arginine, and mineral selenium—all of which can aid in liver cleansing.
Blueberries and cranberries are packed with powerful antioxidants and offer a host of unparalleled health benefits. Studies show that berry-derived antioxidants like anthocyanins can protect the liver from damage, increase immune cell response, and slow the development of lesions and fibrosis in the livers of rats.
Grapes are a valuable fruit in the fight against liver-related diseases thanks in part to the powerful plant compound resveratrol. This polyphenol can reduce liver inflammation, which in turn curbs damage and increases antioxidant levels.
Fatty, oily fish like salmon, mackerel, and herring are rich in powerful omega-3 fatty acids that offer a host of health benefits. Studies have found that omega-3s can curb fat buildup, normalize enzyme levels, and fight inflammation in the liver.
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Similarly, nuts are a great source of omega-3 fatty acids and also contain the inflammation-fighting antioxidant vitamin E. While more research is needed, preliminary studies indicate that eating nuts and seeds may be associated with healthier levels of liver enzymes, particularly in people with non-alcoholic fatty liver disease.
Olive oil is another excellent source of plant-derived healthy fats and antioxidants. Recent studies have linked olive oil consumption in humans to less fat accumulation in the liver and healthier levels of liver enzymes.
While cruciferous vegetables like broccoli and cauliflower aren't necessarily known for their gastrointestinal benefits, an animal study found that Brussels sprouts and broccoli sprout extract actually "increased levels of detoxification enzymes and protected the liver from damage," writes Jones.
This article is provided for informational purposes only and is not intended to be used in the place of advice of your physician or other medical professionals. You should always consult with your doctor or healthcare provider first with any health-related questions. See our full health disclaimer here.