If you’re wondering what to eat to improve a fatty liver, then take just a few moments to read to the end of this article. I’ll share with you what I’ve learned about fatty liver disease (FLD) and what foods you should and should not eat to reduce fat in your liver.
A fatty liver simply refers to having too much fat (specifically triglycerides) accumulated in your liver. So what exactly is “too much” fat? Generally speaking, a liver is considered “fatty” when fat makes up between 5-10% or more of the liver by weight. Fat builds up in and around the spaces of hepatocytes (liver cells), causing the liver to enlarge and grow heavier.
In the early stages of FLD, often referred to as simple steatosis, the condition is often benign and asymptomatic. Many patients don’t even know they have FLD. It is often found when doing blood work or other tests for entirely different reasons. The only way to definitively diagnose the condition is through a livery biopsy, but factors such as elevated liver enzymes often clue physicians into the problem.
A diet plan for fatty liver is most often centered around balance, moderation, regulation, and reducing fat intake to less than 30% of the total daily calories. In other words, if you’re eating a 1200 calorie diet, then fat calories should make up no more than 360 of those calories. This is equivalent to about 40 grams per day. Since fatty liver is often associated with obesity, losing weight can have a significant impact on improving liver function and liver health.
So that brings us to the question of what you should and should not eat. Complex carbohydrates should make up the bulk of your energy source. These can be found in things like whole grains, brown rice, and pasta. The simple carbohydrates found in sweets should be avoided.
Diets for fatty liver patients are also generally high in fiber and include an abundance of fruits and vegetables. Fats, particularly saturated fats, should be carefully monitored. Protein can be obtained from vegetables or from leaner white meats such as chicken or turkey instead of beef or pork. Here is a brief run down of some of the things you should and should not eat if you want to reduce fat in your liver.
Foods You Should Avoid And/Or Carefully Monitor
- White bread and white rice
- High fat butters
- Sweets containing simple carbohydrates (candy, doughnuts, etc.)
- High fat foods (pizza, ribs, pot pies, etc.)
- Eggs and other high cholesterol foods
- Sugary and/or carbonated drinks such as soda
- Fast foods and/or processed meats such as hot dogs
- Fried foods
- Alcohol (particularly if you have alcoholic fatty liver (AFL))
- Salad dressing and other high fat condiments (look for low-fat or non-fat alternatives)
- Red meats (beef, pork)
Foods To Eat To Improve A Fatty Liver
- Vegetables (greens, leaves, legumes, tomatoes, and especially broccoli)
- Fruits rich in vitamin E and vitamin C (oranges, papaya, kiwi, mango)
- Beans (these are a great alternative source of protein)
- Whole grain breads
- Milk in moderation (substitute whole milk or 2% milk with either skim milk or 1% milk)
- Brown rice and pasta
- Lean white meats (chicken, turkey, tuna)