The liver is the largest organ in our body. No doubt that it is one of our busiest organs working 24/7 just to keep our whole body running. It is involved in many metabolic reactions and vital life functions. The primary functions of our liver include:
- Detoxification and purification of blood
- Storage of glycogen, vitamins, and minerals for future use
- Metabolism of carbohydrates, fats, and proteins
- Activation of important enzymes
- Red blood cell production during fetal development
- Decomposition or breakdown of red blood cells
- Production and breakdown of insulin and other hormones
- Metabolism and detoxification of drugs
- Synthesis and excretion of bile, an important digestive fluid that emulsifies fat for easier digestion
- Production of plasma proteins such as albumin and coagulation or clotting factors
With all these functions of our liver, we should do everything to protect it and keep it healthy because like any of our organs it is highly susceptible to damage. Take note that liver damage is a serious medical condition that could lead to death. Many people worldwide die every day due to liver damages which could have been avoided if people just know the things that are good and bad to the liver.
Viruses, toxic drugs, narcotics, high cholesterol food, smoking, and excessive alcohol drinking are some of factors that could damage our liver. We are always told to avoid those things to keep our liver strong and healthy. However, we are rarely told about ways that we should do to make our liver healthy like eating foods good to our liver. There are many foods that we could eat to keep our liver in good condition. Below are some of the foods that are not only affordable and delicious but also good to our liver.
Foods Good to the Liver
- Cruciferous vegetables include cabbage, broccoli, turnip, and cauliflower. These vegetables are rich in glucosinolates which are sulfur-containing substances that help the liver produce necessary enzymes required in detoxification process. Toxins, carcinogens, and drugs are among the compounds detoxified by the liver.
Foods Rich in Beta-Carotene
- Beta-carotene is a type of carotenoid that gives orange or red pigmentation to plants. It is abundant in carrots, squash, beets, and other vegetables with similar pigmentation or color. Beta-carotene and other carotenoids are good for the liver because they act as antioxidants that get rid of free radicals that can damage liver cells. Free radicals should be removed from the liver because they are associated to a variety of diseases like cancer.
Foods Rich in Vitamins C and E
- Vitamins C and E are also powerful antioxidants that fight free radicals in the liver. Good sources of Vitamin C include citrus fruits, papaya, peppers, broccoli, mustard greens, brussel sprouts, tomatoes, carambola, and all green leafy vegetables. Foods that are rich in Vitamin E include asparagus, avocado, walnuts, almonds, and tomatoes.
Foods Rich in Vitamin B
- Vitamin B acts as coenzyme in many liver enzymes that perform important biochemical reactions. Foods rich in this water-soluble vitamin include grains, fishes, eggs, meat (especially liver), and milk.
Foods Rich in Omega-3 Fatty Acids
- Omega-3 fatty acids were found to be helpful to the liver. Foods that are rich with omega-3 fatty acids include tuna, salmon, sardines, mackerel, and chia seeds.
Garlic and Onion
- Garlic contains the sulfur-based compound allicin which is also involved in detoxification reactions in the liver. This popular spice also contains minerals and vitamins that keep the liver healthy. Onion on the other hand contains glutathione, another sulfur-based compound that perform the same function as allicin.
- According to a USDA study, prunes contain some of the highest levels of antioxidants in fruits. We just learned that antioxidants protect the liver from the damaging effects of the liver.
- Apples contain pectin that aids in the excretion of heavy metals from the body. Pectin acts as a chelating agent that binds to heavy metals so that they would not be absorbed in the intestine. This will result to a reduced toxic load in the liver. Apples also contain essential vitamins and minerals that keep our liver and whole body healthy.
- Lecithin is a healthy additive to food as it is good to liver cells. Lecithin is a phospholipid found in the cell membrane that plays a role in fat metabolism. Use lecithin granules in preparing foods where they are appropriate to add including salads and smoothies.
You don’t need to buy expensive supplements just to protect your liver, there are many foods out there that are affordable, easy to find, and most importantly good to your liver.