As far as organs go, the liver isn’t (always) one we pay much attention to. In fact, most people who are quizzed aren’t sure exactly where in the body the liver is situated and what its exact function is. Yet, the liver is one of the hardest working organs in the body, performing as many as 500 vital functions at any given time. That is why it needs superfoods…
A healthy liver is an essential part of your overall health and well-being. It’s the part of the body responsible for disposing of waste, and producing and expelling bile. It also metabolises fats, proteins and carbohydrates, activates enzymes and detoxifies your blood.
It pays to be kind to your liver and one of the best ways to do that is to give it more of the food it needs. Experts have identified the superfoods that your liver will thank you for.
Our medical experts:
- Dr Monique Marais, Gastroenterologist in Cape Town
- Dr Ade van Heerden, Medical doctor, lieutenant in the SANDF and Miss SA 2017
Broccoli and Brussels sprouts
Broccoli is a well-known superfood! Thanks to its nutritional makeup and the fact that it’s loaded with fibre, antioxidants that work to help fight cancer, and vitamin C which aids the body in absorbing iron. Complementing what broccoli does, Brussels sprouts increase the liver’s natural detoxification enzymes that protect against liver damage.
Grapefruit is one of the best citrus fruits to enjoy for liver health. It is packed with nutrients, antioxidants, vitamin C and fibre, all of which work to flush out the toxins that would otherwise cause damage to cells.
Walnuts have a lot going for them. They’re a good source of protein, high in monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, as well as rich in Omega 3 fatty acids, which are as good for your heart and for your liver. Walnuts boost the liver’s bile production process and also contain the amino acid arginine that helps the liver detoxify ammonia.
When the liver gets handed lemons, it uses them to activate enzymes that help the body to naturally flush out toxins. Lemons also work with the liver to dissolve uric acid and other poisons.
We all know what an apple a day does, but it turns out that an avo a day does way more than that! High in healthy fats and fibre, avocados also contain chemicals that may work to slow liver damage, experts believe.
Oh, and that’s not even mentioning the folic acid, Omega 3, magnesium, potassium, lutein and fibre avocado contains. It’s also rich in vitamins A, C, D, E, K and the B group vitamins.
Yes, please for more fresh garlic. Garlic is packed with antioxidants that protect against cell damage and ageing, and helps activate the liver enzymes that flush out toxins.
Another well-known superfood, the health benefits of beets are many. Beets help to activate liver enzymes and increase bile, which supports the liver’s all-important detox function. Beets contain various compounds, among them betalains, that are known to reduce inflammation, protect against oxidative stress, and reduce the risk of liver damage.
Green is great when it comes to eating for your liver. Leafy green vegetables such as lettuce and spinach contain high levels of nitrate – a compound that is essential for neutralising metals and chemicals that we ingest through our food.
Make sure one of your daily cuppas is green tea. Your liver will love you for it. Green tea is rich in antioxidants and a natural flush for the system. That’s in addition to boosting the immune system and protecting the liver from the damaging effects of alcohol.