Registered dietitians share the worst foods for liver health

Registered dietitians share the worst foods for liver health

Your liver is important – so take care of it!

There are some parts of the body that you probably don’t think about on a regular basis. (When was the last time you asked yourself how your spleen was doing?) That is, until something goes wrong. The liver is one of the organs that we often take for granted, but its importance cannot be underestimated.

“The liver produces bile, which is important for fat digestion. It also works to detoxify substances that are foreign to the body and, among other functions, stores fat-soluble vitamins,” he says. dr. Jinan Banna, PhD, RD, registered dietitian and associate professor in the Department of Human Nutrition, Food and Animal Sciences at the University of Hawai’i.

Related: Here’s how to keep your liver healthy

Registered Dietitian Lyndsay Hall, RD, emphasizes that the liver is vital. “One of its main roles is to process and metabolize nutrients, hormones, and substances—like drugs—that pass through our blood to keep our bodies in balance and eliminate potential toxic effects,” she says. Hall adds that the liver also serves as a reserve of energy, otherwise known as glycogen (which is the stored form of glucose), and micronutrients.

Clearly, liver health is key. This is why it is so worrying that the incidence of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) is on the rise; an estimated 25 percent people in the US has this chronic liver condition. NAFLD it occurs when there is a build-up of fat in the liver cells that is not caused by alcohol.

How can you keep your liver healthy? Here, dietitians share the best and worst foods for liver health.

Related: The best food for your liver, from summer berries to coffee and green tea

What are the worst foods for liver health?

Both Dr. Banna and Hall say there is one category of food that is truly not good for liver health: ultra-processed foods that are high in sugar or sodium. This includes things like cookieschips, sweet cereal for breakfast, candy, hot dogs and french fries.

“When we consume too much sugar, whether it’s refined carbohydrates, like white bread or sweets, and our bodies don’t need it for energy at the time, we will store the remaining sugar as fat, and that fat can be stored in the liver,” he says. Hall.

As for foods high in sodium, there is also a strong correlation between a high sodium diet and NAFLD; people with diets high in sodium are as much as 60 percent more likely to be diagnosed with NAFLD.

Both experts also say that foods high in saturated fat should be kept to a minimum, keeping liver health in mind. Foods high in saturated fat include bacon, sausages, red meat, butter, pastries and ice cream. “Some saturated fat is fine in the diet, but excess saturated fat can lead to fat accumulation in the liver,” says Dr. Banna.

Hall explains why foods high in saturated fat should be minimized because increased saturated fat intake is often associated with elevated blood lipid levels, obesity, and insulin resistance—all conditions that can increase the risk of NAFLD. And. “The association between saturated fat consumption and these health conditions known to increase the risk of NAFLD is partly due to the formation of harmful ceramides. [lipids]”, says Hall. “When saturated fat is consumed in excess, it can result in the production of these ceramides, fat molecules that can have harmful effects, increasing the risk of conditions such as insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes.”

Related: Can this workout protect your liver from the effects of alcohol? Experts influence

What to eat instead to support liver health

Now that you know which foods are worst for liver health, comes the question of what to eat instead. As you can probably guess, the same foods that are good for other parts of the body, including the brain, heart and gut, also support liver health. “Eating a balanced diet that’s rich in plant-based foods is a good way to maintain liver health,” says Dr. Banna.

Not sure where to start? She recommends focusing on fiber, a nutrient Dr. Banna says most Americans don’t get enough of, found in foods including fruits, vegetables and whole grains. Scientific studies have revealed a strong link between a high-fiber diet and improved liver health.

Unlike saturated fat, both experts say that unsaturated fat helps keep the liver healthy. “Because it’s beneficial to limit saturated fat consumption for liver health, unsaturated fat intake becomes increasingly important, as our bodies require some fat for metabolic processes,” says Hall. Foods with saturated fat include avocadoolive oil and nuts and seeds.

Hall regularly recommends Mediterranean diet to clients looking for a diet plan that supports liver health. This way of eating emphasizes foods rich in fiber and unsaturated fats and proteins primarily of plant origin and seafood.

It bears repeating that when you eat with liver health in mind, you end up supporting the whole body, including the brain, heart and gut. If you have already been diagnosed with NAFLD, this is also important to know it can be reversed. That’s how powerful food and lifestyle habits are. No one has to live with NAFLD. This is one disease we can control. Pretty empowering, right?

Next, see a list of 110 foods you can eat while on the Mediterranean diet.


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