We research what foods NOT to eat when we are diagnosed with Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease – but what about the foods that we should be ADDING, to cleanse the liver?
The liver is a vital organ that does a multitude of functions. It cleans the blood of toxins and poisons, synthesizes proteins, stores energy, aids the immune system, creates cholesterol, processes hemoglobin and helps with digestion. Our liver has a big job and once it stops working effectively our health suffers. So let’s look at the foods that cleanse, and some delicious recipes to help you easily add these liver cleansing foods to your meal planning.
LEAFY GREENS: Greens prevent fat build-up. Greens are packed with lots of antioxidants and nutrients. The more bitter the greens, like endive, rocket, kale and artichokes increase the production of bile. If you can’t handle lots of greens use a Super Greens powder in your smoothies or fresh-pressed juices.
Recipe idea: ROASTED VEGETABLE SALAD
CRUCIFEROUS VEGETABLES – Broccoli & Cauliflower: These and other cruciferous vegetables, like cabbage and Brussels sprouts, are good foods for liver cleansing. They contain compounds that neutralize many toxins and increase the enzyme production in the liver. Choose organic food that are free from pesticides and chemicals when available or affordable (I use a vegetable wash to remove pesticides).
GARLIC, ONIONS, LEEKS (ALLIUMS): Some of the foods good for a liver detox are alliums (which also include spring onions, chives & shallots). These liver-cleansing foods contain allium and selenium, both of which help the liver rid itself of internal and environmental toxins and excess fats. They also boost the immune system, helping to clear out bacteria and viruses.
Recipe idea: CREAM OF LEEK SOUP
BEETROOT: an excellent cleansing food. These bright coloured roots are filled with beta carotene and other antioxidants that combat toxins and free radicals. They also contain betaine, which encourages liver cells to release toxins, and pectin, which binds to toxins in the intestines so the body doesn’t absorb or reabsorb them. I have more information on the health benefits of Beetroot in this blog HERE.
CARROTS: like beetroot, carrots are liver detox foods rich in antioxidants that mop up many toxins and prevent damage to liver cells.
Recipe idea: MOROCCAN CARROT SALAD
APPLES: one of the best foods for liver health, cleansing, and detoxification is apples. Apples contain pectin, a fibre that binds to heavy metals in digestion. This helps remove them from the body during digestion before they even enter the bloodstream so you put less of a load on the liver.
Recipe idea: APPLE ‘n’ SPICE SMOOTHIE
FATTY FISH: like wild-caught salmon, sardines & tuna, are high in omega 3 fatty acids and help boost our good cholesterol and lowers triglyceride levels.
Recipe idea: SALMON PATTIES
NUTS & SEEDS: they help with reducing inflammation and insulin resistance. They also slow down the absorption of carbs and sugar when eaten with high sugar fruits. Walnuts are known to be the best nut to improve liver function, walnuts help the liver flush fat-soluble toxins. Sunflower seeds are high in Vitamin E, an antioxidant used to treat fatty liver.
Recipe idea: GRANOLA CLUSTERS
HEALTHY OILS: like cold-pressed olive oil, coconut oil, hemp seed oil, avocado, nuts, grass-fed butter and fatty fish.
Recipe idea: VINAIGRETTE
FRUITS & BERRIES: citrus fruit (grapefruit, lime, and lemons) These are rich sources of vitamin C, making citrus foods good for liver detoxing. They also stimulate bile production to flush more toxins and excess fat from the system. Berries are low in sugar, high in fibre, bright in colour and packed with vitamins and antioxidants (especially blueberries).
Recipe idea: COCONUT YOGHURT CHIA & BERRY PUDDING
SPICES & HERBS: the spice turmeric (the active ingredient in turmeric is curcumin and it flushes out toxins & repairs the liver cells). Milk thistle and dandelion are also powerful plants for detoxifying your liver.
WATER: drink lots of filtered water, it’s essential to all body functions but is especially important in the removal of wastes from the body and liver (minimum 2 litres per day).
HERBAL TEAS: Dandelion herbal tea, organic Detox Green tea.
HIGH FIBRE FOODS: are cleansing to the liver and the best fibre is from vegetables, fruit, psyllium, nuts and seeds. This fibre will also feed the good bacteria in the gut and allow them to multiply to make us healthier.
*NOTE a little reminder of the foods YOU MUST AVOID if you have NAFLD: ALCOHOL, SUGAR (sugar added to food ie. cookies, soda, fruit juices, candy, milk chocolate, packaged and processed food), ARTIFICIAL SWEETENERS, GLUTEN (from wheat and products made with wheat), FRIED FOODS (where unhealthy fats are used), WHITE FOODS (like white bread, rice, white potato and pasta), PROCESSED MEATS (deli meats), PACKAGED PROCESSED SNACKS and MEALS.
Article supplied with thanks to The JOYful Table.
About the Author: Susan is an author of The JOYful Table cookbook containing gluten & grain free, and Paleo inspired recipes for good health and wellbeing.
Feature image: Caroline Attwood, Unsplash