Your liver is vital to your health. When working well, the liver efficiently detoxifies chemicals and built-up metabolic waste. It also stores sugars as glycogen, breaks down old red blood cells, and produces hormones and proteins. Natural medicine can go a long way in improving liver health. Read on for a full breakdown of the best liver-protective foods and supplements.
Foods & Supplements That Are Good for Your Liver
Whether you have liver problems or just want to support your liver, you should first closely examine your diet and supplements regimen.
Many diets for liver health restrict important food groups. Some go as far as to exclude most fats, which is often one of the worst things you could do.
Additionally, a number of herbs and dietary supplements are great for the liver. They can enhance its detox power and contribute to your overall wellness.
These supplements need to be used cautiously in people with liver disease. Knowledgeable practitioners know which supplements to avoid prescribing (as there are many supplements and foods that are bad for the liver too). When used right, herbs and supplements can be a safe and effective way to improve liver health .
This is the most comprehensive list of foods and supplements for liver health, as far as I’m aware. Read through it and find the ones that might work best for you…
Seafood has taurine, which protects against oxidative stress-induced liver damage and fibrosis in rats . Seafood is also rich in omega 3 fatty acids that have beneficial effects on liver lipid metabolism, fatty tissue function, and inflammation .
Omega-3s may also decrease liver fat according to one study .
A meta-analysis indicates that eating plenty of white meat or fish can greatly reduce the risk of liver cell carcinoma (HCC) .
According to one study, 77% of men and 80% of postmenopausal women deprived of dietary choline developed fatty liver or muscle damage. Once they were given choline, their liver function recovered .
Intravenous choline improves hepatic steatosis associated with parenteral nutrition. It bypasses the digestive system and goes directly into the bloodstream .
This one is a no-brainer. Animal liver contains uridine and choline, which are essential for a healthy liver. Beef liver is the richest source of choline (333 mg in 100 gms of food).
According to one cohort, white meat (like chicken) intake may reduce the risk of chronic liver disease and liver cancer in both men and women .
5) Blueberries & Probiotics
This one seems like an unlikely combination. But both blueberries and probiotics protected from acute liver injury in animals. They reduce liver cell injury, inflammation, and pro-inflammatory cytokines and improve antioxidant activity .
Blueberries are rich in antioxidants, while probiotics have so many benefits on overall gut and liver (and brain) health that it’s almost impossible to list them all. Read more about probiotics here. Also, proanthocyanidins from blueberry leaves suppress the replication of the hepatitis C virus .
Beets contain a pigment called betalain, which protects the liver from oxidative stress and chronic inflammation such as liver disease .
Extracts of beetroot (betacyanin) at a very low dose protected mice from liver tumors .
Beetroot (table beet) also protected mice from liver from injury .
7) Olive Oil
I love olive oil. In fact, I tell most of my clients to pour olive unsparingly over their meals. It’s great for reducing inflammation and preventing a number of chronic diseases–among them those of the liver.
An olive-oil rich diet decreases the buildup of triglycerides in the liver and, therefore, might be helpful for Nonalcoholic Fatty Liver Disease (NAFLD) patients who have high triglycerides .
One study in patients with NAFLD demonstrated that olive oil has protective effects because it improves glucose and lipid metabolism and prevents atherogenesis (hardening of the arteries) . The authors also mentioned the Mediterranean diet, in general, is good for people with NAFLD.
In animals, extra virgin olive oil and its extracts had protective effects against oxidative damage of the liver tissue when exposed to toxins (by preventing excessive lipid peroxidation) .
Biofortified Carrot (carrots with increased bioactive compounds) intake increases liver antioxidant capacity and Vitamin A status in animals .
Carrots also protect against liver injury .
Carrot consumption modifies bile acid excretion and increases antioxidant status .
Garlic is a powerful nutraceutical. One study demonstrated that 15-week garlic supplementation could decrease body fat mass among NAFLD patients. Garlic may reduce the amount of fat in the liver and prevent or delay the progression of NAFLD [25, 26].
Several studies have shown that Garlic can protect the liver from toxic agents. Human studies have shown that garlic protects against Tylenol-induced liver toxicity .
Ginger is a very powerful remedy with numerous proven health benefits. A previous preliminary study reported that the insulin sensitivity in liver cells could be improved using ginger (with gingerol as its active component for this effect) in NAFLD patients .
Ginger was effective against alcohol-induced liver toxicity in rats. Ginger consumption normalized the levels of the antioxidant SOD (Superoxide dismutase), catalase, and glutathione (GSH) in rats .
Ginger was also effective against liver cancer in rats .
According to one study conducted by Japanese researchers, avocados contain potent liver protectants which may reduce liver damage .
Refined avocado oil fed to rats significantly decreased triglycerides in the blood and liver .
Another study showed that avocado oil improves mitochondrial ETC (Electron transport Chain) function by reducing the deleterious effects of oxidative stress in the liver of diabetic rats. Damaged mitochondria can’t turn food into energy. As a result, oxidative stress increases and your liver suffers the consequences .
A number of experimental studies have mentioned that Coffee (Coffea arabica) has protective effects on the liver. Drinking coffee in moderation might prevent chronic liver diseases (from steatosis to fibrosis) and liver cancer. In fact, moderate daily unsweetened coffee can be used as an add-on therapy for patients with liver disease [35, 36, 37].
In a large prospective study of participants with advanced Hepatitis C-related liver disease, regular consumption of coffee was associated with lower rates of disease progression .
Coffee consumption was also inversely related to the severity of steatohepatitis in patients with NAFLD (Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease) .
In one study, coffee consumption was associated with an improvement in liver enzymes ALT, AST, and GGTP, especially in people at risk of liver disease.
Also, patients with liver disease drinking 2 or more cups of coffee per day have a lower incidence of cirrhosis, fibrosis, and even cancer–as well as lower mortality rates .
13) Green Tea
Individuals who consumed more than 10 cups of green tea/day showed a remarkable reduction in relative risk for liver cancers .
According to a randomized clinical study, Green tea extract (GTE) (500 mg GTE tablet per day) greatly lowered markers of liver damage (ALT and AST levels) in NAFLD patients after a 12 weeks .
EGCG in green tea has a potential inhibitory effect on the proliferation of liver stellate cells, which are closely related to the progression of liver fibrosis in chronic liver diseases .
The seed coat of Cocoa (Theobroma cacao) is great for the liver. Consuming a liquid meal along with dark chocolate (85% cocoa) might improve liver function after cirrhosis. Cacao polyphenol extract (CPE) prevents liver and kidney damage in rats, possibly through its antioxidant properties [45, 46].
In Ayurvedic medicine, turmeric (Curcuma longa) is a well-documented treatment for liver disorders . Curcumin the most important and active component in turmeric may help prevent liver inflammation and damage according to lab studies.
Curcumin reduces liver injury induced by alcohol, thioacetamide, iron overdose, cholestasis, and acute chronic, subchronic and chronic carbon tetrachloride intoxication, and also reverses CCl4 cirrhosis to some extent .
A recent report has shown that curcumin decreases PGC-1α and significantly suppresses HBV (Hepatitis B virus) gene expression .
Curcumin also inhibits the replication of Hepatitis C virus possibly by suppressing the PI3K/Akt-SREBP-1 pathway .
Treatment with dietary curcumin in animal models reduced fatty liver, necrosis, and inflammation .
Curcumin also ameliorates the effects of liver injury induced by several drugs such as paracetamol , chloroquine , methotrexate , erythromycin estolate , isoniazid, rifampicin, and pyrazinamide  in various animal models. The antioxidant ability of curcumin is shown to be the main protective mechanism against drug-induced liver damage.
In a case report, a 40-year-old female consumed a single dose of 150mg fluconazole oral tablet for vaginitis, which later resulted in liver toxicity (Fluconazole related hepatotoxicity-FRH).
Artichoke leaf extract (at 1.5 gr/kg per day) reduced the ALT and AST levels significantly and hence could be a beneficial treatment for FRH .
A randomized clinical trial in patients with Nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH), showed that artichoke had liver protective and hypolipidemic effects. Possibly due to the presence of constituents like flavonoids and caffeoylquinic acid .
Extracts of Artichoke (Cynara scolymus) are commonly found in liver detoxification supplements. Artichoke may also act on the liver to lower cholesterol levels .
Asparagus roots and shoots have a stimulating effect on both the liver and kidney and increase the flow of liquids from the body. Extracts from A. officinalis had a protective effect on liver cells from toxic substances .
Alcoholic extract of Asparagus (A. racemosus) has been shown to significantly reduce the enhanced levels of alanine transaminase (ALT), aspartate transaminase, and alkaline phosphate in CCl4 induced liver damage in rats .
Walnuts (Juglans regia) contain high levels of l-arginine, an amino acid, glutathione, and omega-3 fatty acids, also help detoxify the liver of disease-causing ammonia. Walnuts also help oxygenate the blood, and extracts from their hulls are often used in liver-cleansing formulas .
In one study dietary lipids from walnut oil inhibited lipid accumulation in the liver and also modulated the liver gene expression in fatty acid influx or lipoprotein assembly. Thus walnut oil modulates liver steatosis in obese rats .
Oral administration of a polyphenol-rich extract from walnuts in mice significantly reduced liver weight and liver and serum triglycerides (TG) .
A randomized controlled trial in patients with Nonalcoholic Fatty Liver disease (NAFLD), treatment with water extract of licorice root showed a significant decrease in the elevated enzyme levels of alanine aminotransferase (ALT) and aspartate aminotransferase (AST) .
Water extract of licorice showed protective effects on the liver against CCl4-induced acute liver toxicity in rats. There was a dose-dependent increase in the enzyme levels as well as an increase in the total protein and albumin levels .
It may also interact negatively with medications being metabolized by the organ. For these reasons, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) warn against using licorice if you have liver or kidney disease.
Fruits like Apples, Plums, Grapefruit, Oranges, and lemons are helpful in cleansing the Liver.
20) Fish oil
If you’re not getting enough omega-3s from fish and seafood, consider supplementing. One study in children with NAFLD (pediatric non-alcoholic fatty liver disease) treatment with DHA could modulate liver progenitor cell activation, liver cell survival .
One study suggests that fish oil given either parenterally or enterally may be a potential treatment for patients with PNALD (Parenteral Nutrition Associated Liver Disease) .
DHA substantially reduced liver injury induced by Valproic Acid. DHA manipulated cellular machinery to curb liver oxidative stress and inflammation .
Dietary DHA also has a protective effect in necroinflammatory liver injury in animals .
21) Milk Thistle
One randomized double-blind clinical study in children with Acute lymphoblastic leukemia and grade 2 or higher liver toxicity showed that milk thistle reduced the levels of AST and ALT significantly.
A significantly larger number of children in the milk thistle group developed a >50% reduction in the total bilirubin compared to the placebo .
In a randomized controlled study when patients with alcoholic liver and or hepatitis B or C, diseases were treated with milk thistle, there was a >50% decrease in mortality rate compared to the placebo .
Milk thistle (Silybum marianum) is used in Traditional Chinese medicine to clear toxic material from the liver and promote bile flow .
In animals, Milk thistle (Silymarin) reduces liver injury caused by acetaminophen, carbon tetrachloride, radiation, iron overload, phenylhydrazine, alcohol, cold ischemia and Amanita phalloides .
A case report mentions that milk thistle (silybin) may offer protection against pharmaceutical drug phenytoin-induced liver toxicity .
Quercetin can be viewed as the “master flavonoid.” It’s the most well-researched and abundant flavonoid of all. Quercetin reduces liver oxidative damage, ductular proliferation, and fibrosis in biliary obstructed rats. These effects suggest that it might be a useful agent to preserve liver function in patients with biliary obstruction .
Quercetin prevented injury in liver cells through the induction of MT (Metallothioneins, which protect the liver against acute metal toxicity). It also protected rats from alcohol-induced liver damage [85, 86, 87].
Boswellia serrata extract at lower doses (87.5 mg) had liver protective effects than at higher doses (175 mg) in animal models with chemically inducliver damage .
In one study rats given Boswellia extract had an increased liver functioning with an increase in the dosage .
Articum can prevent most of the liver tissue damage caused by acetaminophen overdose in rats .
The inhibitory effects on carrageenan-induced paw edema and CCl4 induced liver toxicity could be due to the scavenging ability of A. lappa .
Articum root extract had a protective effect on the liver against cadmium toxicity in rats .
The liver protective ability of Articum is attributed to its antioxidant property, which decreases the oxidative stress in liver cells.
Melatonin protects the liver from methotrexate-induced oxidative injury in rats. It increased the MDA (Malondialdehyde) levels, MPO (Myeloperoxidase) activity and increased glutathione levels in the blood, liver, and kidney .
It also protects liver cells against oxidative molecular damage and metabolic dysfunction by scavenging free radicals .
In one study, melatonin injections reduced liver damage in rats with liver fibrosis by its antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and anti-fibrotic activities .
Uridine supplementation normalized or reduced all the abnormalities of zalcitabine induced microvesicular steatohepatitis in mice. It reduced mitochondrial liver toxicity without any side effects .
Uridine co-administration was effective in preventing tamoxifen-induced liver lipid droplet accumulation. This ability of uridine appeared to depend on the pyrimidine salvage pathway, which promotes the biosynthesis of membrane phospholipids .
Uridine also prevents galactosamine-induced liver cell necrosis in rats .
27) Grapeseed Extract
Grape seed extract (Vitis vinifera) protects rat liver and inhibits Methotrexate-induced oxidative stress. When used with MTX (Methotrexate) it significantly decreased MDA (Malondialdehyde) levels and increased the activity of SOD (superoxide dismutase) and CAT (Catalase) .
The extract may be a promising therapeutic option in radiation-induced oxidative stress in rat liver [105, 106]. It also protects the liver from oxidative damage following bile duct ligation in rats .
Both grape seed and skin extract (GSSE) could be used as a safe preventive agent against fat and doxorubicin-induced liver toxicity .
In mouse models of chemically induced hepatotoxicity, andrographolide and neo andrographolide (Andrographis paniculata) reduced levels of lipid peroxidation, glutathione depletion, and enzymatic leakage, possibly through antioxidant effects .
Andrographis could effectively prevent liver injury induced by CCl4 in mice .
A choleretic effect was seen in rats and guinea pigs with paracetamol-induced liver damage .
According to one study, the standardized extract of A. paniculata with the right composition of diterpenic labdanes is likely to have good potential for the development of a liver protective medication. Though it might not provide an immediate remedy, but it can be considered as a comprehensive therapy for liver inflammation .
Extracts of Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis) relaxes smooth muscles and has a liver protective effect .
Rosmarinic acid was able to inhibit proliferation and induce apoptosis hepatic stellate cells (HSCs), which are activated during liver injury and thus contributed to the reversal of liver fibrosis [114, 115].
Theis active compoun could reduce fibrosis and liver function, reducing liver TGF-beta 1 and CTGF expression in liver fibrosis .
Some clinical studies suggest improvement in liver function in both Alcoholic liver disease (ALD) and hepatitis C following zinc supplementation and one study suggested improved fibrosis markers in hepatitis C patients .
A prospective study in patients with C-viral chronic hepatitis (CH) and liver cirrhosis (LC), supplementation of zinc in these patients clearly lowered the incidence of hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) and improved the long-term outcome in CH and LC patients .
In one study it was found that zinc deficiency is profound and should be assumed to be present in every patient with end-stage liver disease awaiting transplant, and during the waiting period, oral supplementation with zinc should be provided .
Zinc has beneficial effects against arsenic-induced liver toxicity in rats. Administration of zinc caused signs of improvement in liver histoarchitecture, increased the levels of GSH (Glutathione) and decreased LPO (Lipid peroxide) levels .
It also helps prevent hepatic encephalopathy (a brain-related complication of liver disease) by activating glutamine synthetase in patients with severe liver cirrhosis .
Plus, zinc prevents acute and chronic liver injury and many liver diseases in animals .
Sweetheart is a plant used by herbalists in Ghana. Water decoction of sweetheart (Desmodium adscendens) showed a protective effect in rats against liver damage induced by D-galactosamine and ethanol. This effect is in part due to the presence of D-pinitol .
A patent has been taken on the use of Desmodium, especially D. adscendens in the treatment of viral and chemically induced hepatitis .
32) Milk osteopontin
Milk osteopontin could be a simple nutritional strategy to prevent liver toxicity which is mainly due to its stomach protective, anti-inflammatory, and anti-steatotic actions. It also diminished ethanol-mediated liver injury .
Osteopontin acts as a protector during inflammatory liver injury. In one study it was shown that it promotes the survival of liver cells during DEN (diethylnitrosamine)-induced liver injury (inhibits the activation of Nf-kb, and increase the production of TNF-αin macrophages and IL-6) .
Glycine is one of the smallest but most important amino acids. Glycine-containing diet accelerates the process of recovery from alcohol-induced liver injury and may lead to its clinical application in alcoholic hepatitis .
Glycine also diminishes liver and kidney injury caused by liver and kidney toxicants and drugs .
Both glycine and uridine prevent D-galactosamine liver toxicity in rats .
34) Holy basil
In a study done on rats, the alcoholic extract of Holy Basil (Ocimum sanctum) had liver protective effects. It also had synergistic liver protection effects in conjunction with Silymarin .
Tulasi extract had protective effects against oxidative stress induced by p-hydroxybenzoic acid in mice liver .
In hypercholesterolemic animals treatment with Dill tablet or Dill extract reduced the levels of ALT (Alanine transaminase) and AST (Aspartate transaminase), which are the sensitive markers for liver injury .
Wormwood (Artemisia absinthium) had preventive and curative effects on acetaminophen and CCl4-induced liver damage in animal models .
Alcohol soluble part of the hot-water extract from Artemisia (A. iwayomogi) inhibited fibrosis and lipid peroxidation in rats with liver fibrosis induced by CCl4 in rats .
Oriental wormwood (A. capillaris) as “Yin Chen Hao” in Traditional Chinese medicine has been found to have liver protective effects both in lab studies and in animal models .
Chamomile (Matricaria chamomilla) flower extracts showed effective prevention of fatty liver formation and hepatic inflammation in obese mice, indicating liver protective effects of this extract .
Chamomile was also protective to liver against CCl4 induced toxicity in animal models .
Astragalus had anti-tumor effects against hepatocellular carcinoma cells, it significantly inhibited the growth of H22 cells .
Astragalus (total flavonoids of Astragalus) have a potential protecting effect against the paracetamol-induced liver damage in mice .
Flavonoids extracted from semen Astragali (SA) are useful in preventing rat liver fibrosis induced by dimethylnitrosamine (DMN) .
A. membranaceus has a protective effect on BCG/LPS (Bacillus Calmette-Guérin and lipopolysaccharide) induced liver injury in mice .
One study recommends that dietary intake of plant mixture of celery, chicory, and barley at 15% (5% of each) concentrations can be beneficial to patients suffering from hypercholesterolemia and liver diseases .
40) Reishi mushroom
Reishi or ganoderma has been called “The God of Fungi.” It has a number of remarkable health benefits. In a randomized double-blind multicentered study G. lucidum extract “Ganopoly” was administered to patients with chronic hepatitis B, results showed that this extract was effective against HBV and was well tolerated in these patients .
Reishi mushroom (Ganoderma lucidum) significantly decreased blood ALT (Alanine aminotransferase) and AST (Aspartate aminotransferase) levels in mice livers injured with α-amanitin .
Extracts of Reishi mushroom had a protective effect on the liver against damage caused by benzopyrene in rats .
G. lucidum extracts also had protective effects on the liver fibrosis in rats caused by thioacetamide .
Polysaccharides extracted from G. lucidum were found to improve the symptoms of cirrhosis induced by biliary ligation in rats .
In a randomized double-blind placebo-controlled clinical trial in patients with acute viral hepatitis, a polyherbal formulation containing Stonebreaker or Chanca Piedra (Phyllanthus niruri) had anti-hepatitis activity and was effective .
P. niruri has antioxidant and liver protective effects in CCl4 induced hepatotoxicity .
P. niruri also plays a protective role against liver cirrhosis induced by thioacetamide in rats .
A dry extract of P. niruri protects normal cells and induces apoptosis in human liver carcinoma cells .
In a randomized, parallel and placebo-controlled study Schisandra fruits extract and sesamin (SCH) treated subjects had an improved fatty liver with an improvement in the liver function .
Schisandra (Schisandra chinensis) (SC) has the ability to prevent alcohol-induced fatty liver disease in rats (possibly by the activation of AMPK and PPARα signaling) .
SC reduces ER stress and prevents the development of NAFLD (Nonalcoholic Fatty Liver disease) .
A clinical study has shown that Guduchi (Tinospora cordifolia) plays an important role in the normalization of altered liver functions (ALT, AST) .
Antiretroviral therapy (ART) for the treatment of HIV-AIDS is associated with alteration in liver function tests. These were reversed and normalized by Guduchi .
44) Dandelion root
Dandelions are not only a notorious weed and granter of wishes but also a powerful herbal remedy, best known for enhancing liver health. A food supplement formulation comprising Dandelion root improves the function of the human liver, by supporting the body’s process of cleansing and detoxifying the liver .
Water extract of Dandelion (Taraxacum officinale) has a protective action against alcohol-induced toxicity in the liver of mice (possibly by elevating antioxidative potentials and decreasing lipid peroxidation) .
Dandelion water-alcohol extract (DWE) had protective effects against CCl4-induced liver fibrosis (by inactivating liver stellate cells and enhancing liver regenerative capacity) in mice .
Traditionally used for enlarged liver and for liver revitalizing .
Amla (Emblica Officinalis) and Chyavanaprash were found to inhibit liver toxicity produced by acute and chronic CCl4 administration in rats .
Amla possesses protective effects against chemical-induced liver carcinogenesis in animal models of study (appear to be mediated by free radical scavenging activity) .
Amla reduces N-Nitrosodiethylamine-induced apoptosis, autophagy, and inflammation in rat livers .
Amla fruit extract supplementation had significantly reduced arsenic-induced oxidative stress in the liver of mice .
Vitamin E and C were significantly more effective than Vitamin A against ethanol-mediated toxic effects during liver regeneration. Both E and C could protect against liver injury and dysfunction and reduced lipid peroxidation .
Clinical trials in small cohorts of patients have shown that treatment with Vitamin E could be proposed for Nonalcoholic Fatty Liver Disease (NAFLD) .
Vitamin E plus C treatment was effective in treating patients with fatty liver diseases in an open-labeled, prospective, randomized study .
Vitamin D deficiency is highly prevalent in patients with Chronic liver disease (CLD), and Vitamin D levels are inversely related to the severity of CLD. Hence supplementation could be a therapeutic option . Also, the prescription of Vitamin D is advised in patients with cholestasis .
Kombucha tea has liver protective effects against acetaminophen-induced liver injury in mice .
48) Lemon balm
Lemon balm (Melissa Officinalis) extract had a protective effect on liver cells in rats with high cholesterol according to one study. This was attributed to the presence of flavonoids in this plant .
49) Castor oil packs
Apply continuous and frequent Castor oil packs for a healing and detoxifying action on an inflamed liver.
What Should You Avoid?
Now that you know what’s good for your liver, you should also be aware of certain natural compounds that can do more harm than good. I’ve complied a full list of supplements and foods that are bad for your liver in this post.
Irregular Liver Panel Results?
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