Top 14 Liver-Cleansing Superfoods
Written by: Kavata Kithome
If you are the awesome health-conscious person that I’m betting you are, you may already know that the liver is one of the body’s most vital organs.
It is the organ that’s responsible for many important functions related to digestion, metabolism, immunity and the storage of nutrients that the body needs to survive. It is a gland that secretes chemicals required by other parts of the body – in fact, it is the only part of the body that functions as both an organ and a gland.
A healthy liver regulates the composition of and removes harmful toxins from the blood as well as processes and converts nutrients absorbed by the intestine during digestion into forms that the body can use. It also stores certain vitamins, iron and simple sugar glucose. It is responsible for breaking down insulin, hemoglobin and other hormones, it destroys old red blood cells and produces chemicals needed for blood clotting properly.
An unhealthy diet and a poor lifestyle can overwork and overload the liver, leaving it unable to process toxins and fat efficiently. This in turn can raise the risk of obesity, cardiovascular disease, chronic fatigue, headaches, digestive problems, allergies and many other health problems.
The liver is truly a rock star for your body and needless to say, it is important to keep it in ultimate shape. Here are the top 14 liver-cleansing superfoods that can help cleanse, rejuvenate and detoxify your liver to help keep it super healthy and functioning the way you need it:
1. Grapefruit: A great source of vitamin C, pectin and antioxidants, grapefruit helps the natural cleansing process of the liver. It contains glutathione, which is a powerful antioxidant that neutralizes free radicals and detoxifies the heavy metals in the liver.
- Simply drink a small glass of freshly squeezed grapefruit juice or enjoy the whole fruit with your daily breakfast.
***Note: If you are on medications, please consult your doctor before enjoying this fruit as it may interfere with their efficacy.
2. Walnuts: A great source of omega-3 fatty acids and glutathione, both of which can aid in the natural liver-cleansing process. These nuts have a high amount of amino acid l-arginine, which helps the liver with the detoxification of ammonia.
- Munch on a handful of walnuts as a snack daily, you can also sprinkle them on a salad, side dish, soup and baked goods.
3. Lemons: Your love affair with lemons just gets better as lemons detoxify the liver due to the antioxidant d-limonene. Lemons are high in vitamin C that helps the liver produce more enzymes to aid digestion. It also helps the liver in mineral absorption.
- Drink juice from a half a lemon in warm water first thing every morning and last thing in the evening.
4. Broccoli: There is a reason why this small tree is called a super-food. It is rich in glucosinolates that help flush carcinogens and other harmful toxins out of the body. Broccoli contains vitamin E, which is important for the liver to carry out its functions.
- Eat 1 cup of broccoli 3 times a week to keep your liver happy and healthy. I love it steamed.
5. Beetroot: This rich red root, is a powerful cleanser that supports liver function. It is high in plant flavonoids and beta-carotene, which stimulate and improve overall liver function. Beetroots are rockstars when it come to purifying the blood.
- Make a powerful liver-cleansing salad with 1 cup of chopped or grated beetroots, 2 tablespoons of cold pressed extra virgin olive oil and the juice of ½ lemon.
- You can also juice with carrot, spinach, apple, ginger and lemon for a powerful juice.
6. Apples: We have all heard the old saying “an apple a day keeps the doctor away.” Liver health is another reason for this saying. Apples are an excellent source of pectin that helps remove toxins from the digestive tract and cholesterol from the blood. By doing this, it ultimately helps prevent the liver from being overworked.
- Eat one organic apple or drink a glass of fresh apple juice a day.
7. Garlic: This comes as no surprise, as garlic is great for cleansing your liver. It helps activate enzymes in the liver that help clear out toxins. The two natural compounds allicin and selenium found in garlic aid in liver-cleansing processes and protect it from toxic damage.
- Use fresh raw garlic instead of processed, minced or powdered garlic.
- Eat 2-3 raw garlic cloves daily and include them in your cooked food if possible.
8. Turmeric: This yellow root can improve the body’s ability to digest fats. The compound curcumin in turmeric induces the formation of a primary liver detoxification enzyme called glutathione s-transferase. It also helps regenerate damaged liver cells.
- Mix ¼ teaspoon of turmeric powder in a glass of water, boil it and drink it twice daily for 2-3 weeks. You can also use it as a spice in your daily cooking.
9. Avocados: Like grapefruit, this fruit is rich in glutathione that is required to cleanse the liver from toxins. The high amounts of monounsaturated fat in avocados helps reduce low-density lipoproteins and increase high density lipoproteins, which then helps the liver process good cholesterol. Avocados contain many minerals, vitamins and plant nutrients that support overall liver health and help break down fats.
- Eat 1-2 avocados per week for 2 months to help reverse liver damage.
10. Green Tea: Drinking green tea daily can help the body flush out toxins and fat deposits while increasing hydration levels. This healthy beverage also protects the liver from the damaging effects of toxic substances like alcohol and can be beneficial in the prevention of liver disease. According to the CDC, people who drink green tea have a lower risk of developing liver cancer.
- Drink 2-3 cups of green tea daily – can be sweetened by honey.
11. Cabbage: Like broccoli and cauliflower, eating cabbage helps stimulate two key liver detoxifying enzymes that help flush out toxins.
- My favorite way of eating cabbage is lightly steamed with onions and garlic. You can also try kimchi, cabbage soup and sauerkraut. Try this amazing cabbage soup!
12. Alternative Grains: As you make healthy changes, it is important to eat healthy grains, like quinoa, millet and buckwheat. These grains are full on amino acids and are great for the body.
- You can include these grains in almost any salad to add an extra health boost or try tossing them into your favorite soups (quinoa is particularly great for this).
13. Olive Oil: Cold-pressed organic oils help keep the liver from overload by providing the body with a lipid base that helps suck up harmful toxins in the body.
- Add cold pressed oils like olive, hemp,and flaxseed to your diet, your liver will love you for it.
14. Leafy Green Veggies: The best way to show love to your liver is by adding leafy greens to your diet. They can be eaten raw or juiced (yum) and you will be giving your liver chlorophylls that help suck up and neutralize environmental toxin-like heavy metals, chemicals and pesticides from the blood stream. Leafy green veggies like bitter gourd, arugula, dandelion greens, spinach, mustard green and chicory offer a powerful protective compound for the liver and increasing bile production.
- Enjoy them raw or juiced, or use them for salads and throw in one or more of the superfoods mentioned above to give your hardworking liver a special health-boosting treat.
***Note: Eating the foods above is a great way to promote healthy liver function. For the best benefits, it is recommended to perform a liver cleanse twice a year. This can remove any trapped toxins and foreign particles that may be trapped in your liver.
These food are not only great for your liver, but for your overall health as well. How do you add these foods to your diet? Do you have an exciting recipes with one or more of these foods? Share in the comments below.
Kavata Kithome is an advocate for living your best life, full of health and longevity. While working closely with gym owners and personal trainers, she was able to sculpt a well-rounded view of fitness and understands how to incorporate it with a healthy balanced diet. She is a regular contributor to the One More Step Lifestyle brand.
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