Your liver is an important organ that performs a variety of functions, aiding in food digestion and metabolism, vitamin and mineral storage, blood purification, and protein synthesis. Although the liver has a unique ability to repair itself after damage, it is not invincible and your food and drink choices can have a major impact on this organ.
There are many nutrients that are good for the liver, and one particularly important one is vegetables. Read the four best vegetables for your liver and for more information, don’t miss the best breakfast habits to reduce liver fat, nutritionists say.
Some may think that the taste of this vegetable is a little too “earthy”, but while it may not be to everyone’s taste, beets are packed with nutrients that support your liver’s health. Studies show that beetroot juice is a “health-promoting” and “disease-preventing” drink and may be particularly beneficial for liver health. One study specifically looked at the effects of beets on liver health and found that beetroot juice may help protect the liver from certain classes of carcinogens.
Although more needs to be learned about the effects of beets on the liver, current evidence suggests that antioxidants in beets, called betalains, have anti-carcinogenic and anti-inflammatory properties. It is important to note that this finding is specific to red beets and that other beet varieties, such as golden beets, may not have the same antioxidant levels.
Eat this!: Roasted and pickled are the most popular ways to eat beets, and beet juice provides the highest concentration of nutrients in beets.
Of course, all vegetables are good vegetables, but special nutrients found in cruciferous vegetables like broccoli are especially beneficial for liver health. One study in mice found that those fed broccoli had higher liver function tests and less non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) and liver tumors. Although the exact mechanism for this effect has not been confirmed, unique plant compounds found in broccoli and other cruciferous vegetables may be to thank.
Eat this!: Broccoli can be eaten raw or cooked, or even finely chopped. It can also be added to quiche and pasta dishes, or added to a salad or served as a side dish—there are many ways to incorporate broccoli into your meal plan.
Another cruciferous vegetable, Brussels sprouts have become a popular vegetable in recent years, and for good reason. While Brussels sprouts improve digestion and provide a ton of vitamins and minerals, they also contain plant compounds that support liver function.
In one study, mice fed raw Brussels sprouts increased levels of detoxifying enzymes in the liver and lungs. These detoxification properties seem to be highest in unripe Brussels sprouts; however, research shows that even when cooked, Brussels sprouts retain their ability to induce these detoxifying enzymes. Glucosinolates are a unique compound found in cruciferous vegetables that participate in enzymatic reactions in the body that neutralize carcinogenic compounds.
Eat this!: Brussels sprouts are often eaten after roasting, roasting or steaming; however, it may be beneficial to include more raw Brussels sprouts in your diet. Shredded Brussels sprouts can easily be added to salads for added crunch and a nutritional boost.
This group of vegetables includes kale, spinach, and other greens that are beneficial for liver health, including overall health. Like other vegetables on this list, leafy greens are rich in antioxidants that protect the body from dangerous free radicals.
In addition to reducing the effects of free radicals in the body, certain leafy greens, such as spinach, provide specific benefits for the liver. A recent study found that consuming raw spinach reduced the risk of NAFLD, and the more spinach participants consumed, the lower their risk of developing the disease. Cooked spinach still provides many essential nutrients, such as fiber, but in this study, cooked spinach was not as effective in reducing the risk of NAFLD.
Eat this!: Leafy greens can be added to salads or smoothies, or cooked in a variety of ways. While this research specifically focused on spinach, all leafy greens contain chlorophyll, which helps the liver detoxify toxic compounds and chemicals.