The liver is one of the most important organs in the body because it helps convert food into energy and cleanses the blood of poisons and toxins. An unhealthy diet that is high in calories and fat contributes to weight gain and obesity. Obesity is a risk factor for liver diseases like cancer, cirrhosis, a fatty liver and liver failure, according to the American Liver Foundation. The best way to ensure a healthy liver is to eat a nutritious diet that adheres to federal guidelines for weight maintenance and overall health.
Fruits, Vegetables and Whole Grains
Plant-based foods -- such as whole grains, fruits and vegetables -- should make up a large part of a liver-friendly diet, according to the National Liver Foundation. These foods are are also high in vitamins, minerals, fiber, phytochemicals and antioxidants that benefit overall health and help prevent many chronic diseases. Plant-based foods include fruits, vegetables, grains, soy products, beans and legumes. Federal guidelines recommend consuming whole grains like brown rice, oats, whole-grain bread and pasta, cornmeal, barley and bulgur whenever possible, and at least five servings of fruits and vegetables a day.
Low-Fat Dairy & Lean Meat
The healthiest dairy products and meat are low in calories, fat and cholesterol. Low-fat dairy products include skim milk, low-fat cheese and fat-free yogurt. Examples of lean meats include chicken, turkey, eggs, fish, seafood, pork tenderloin, ground beef that is more than 90 percent fat-free, buffalo and game meat. Federal dietary guidelines recommend removing all visible fat and skin from meat and poultry prior to cooking to further reduce calories and fat.
Fat is an essential nutrient but consuming too much of it can lead to weight gain and obesity. Specific types of fat like saturated and trans fats also increase cholesterol and triglycerides increase the risk for a fatty liver. The healthiest fats are unsaturated from olive and vegetable oils, nuts, avocado, and fish and fish oil. Examples of unhealthy saturated and trans fats are butter, lard, margarine, shortening, fat from meat, coconut and palm oils, cream and partially hydrogenated oils.
Healthy beverages for the liver are nonalcoholic, such as water, tea, coffee, fruit juice, low-fat milk, sports drinks and soft drinks. Alcohol puts stress on the liver and even one drink a day can increase the risk of liver disease, according to the California Pacific Medical Center. Individuals with existing liver problems are advised to avoid all alcohol to prevent progression of liver disease.
- American Liver Foundation: NAFLDrel="nofollow"
- National Liver Foundation: Diet and Nutritionrel="nofollow"
- Harvard Health Publications: When the Liver Gets Fattyrel="nofollow"
- United States Department of Agriculture: Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2005rel="nofollow"
- California Pacific Medical Center: Fatty Liverrel="nofollow"
- market vegetables image by Kristina Cilia from Fotolia.com
This article reflects the views of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the views of Jillian Michaels or JillianMichaels.com.