1) metabolizing (altering in some way) proteins, carbohydrates and fats from our food;
2) producing cholesterol (which is then used in bile acids and fat digestion); and
3) producing proteins necessary for blood clotting and fluid balance in the body.
But the toughest job this organ may be responsible for is detoxification: this means alcohol, pesticides, herbicides, air pollutants, anything that is toxic to our cells.
Foods for the liver can therefore benefit anyone, although those with a liver disease will benefit more profoundly. Since pesticides and herbicides are toxins that increase the liver’s workload, eating organic foods will be a significant help. The cost is often somewhat higher but the nutrition count is also higher, as is the benefit to the body. So whether it is a food or herb listed, always think organic first, and you’ll already be on the way to easing the load on your liver.
HERBS AND SPICES
Ginger - increases bile flow, a liver tonic, promoting liver health in general. Great in smoothies, as a spice in foods, stir-frys, soup, or tea.
Turmeric - Has antioxidant, anti-cancer, and anti-inflammatory properties. It assists in increasing bile secretion, helps liver detoxification and regeneration. Can be used in cooking, or smoothies.
Dandelion - This plant has blood-cleansing and liver-supporting properties. Dandelion leaves go well in a salad. The whole plant including the root provides the best benefit, and this can be ground up into juice, mixed with carrot or apple for example. Another alternative is to dry the root and grind it with chicory root for use as a hot drink.
Milk Thistle - The last herb mentioned here is not one that you will find in the spice department, but it is so beneficial to the liver, especially damaged livers, that it is worth mentioning. This plant has been found to actually regenerate damaged cells and increase DNA synthesis in the liver. One of the best ways that I have found to include this as a food in my diet is in a seasoning salt. Milk thistle seeds can often be found in health food or herb stores. Seaweed can be bought bulk or packaged in health food stores.
Milk thistle seasoning salt
You will need a clean coffee grinder for this, preferably one that is only used for grinding herbs. Coffee is hard on the liver, so you want to avoid getting any in your liver-loving seasoning salt.
½ cup milk thistle seeds
½ cup dried seaweed
1 cup of your favorite herbs (basil, oregano, dill, whatever you like!)
Grind the seeds first and put in a bowl. Grind the seaweed next. This is the trickiest part, and the drier the seaweed, the easier it will be. It doesn’t matter if some of it is not entirely ground. Add the seaweed to the ground milk thistle seeds. Next grind the herbs. Add all the ingredients together and mix well. Keep this on the table where you eat, and sprinkle it on your food. It can be added during cooking too. The combination of milk thistle and seaweed is a dynamite one for liver health.
Foods are an source of vitamins and minerals that support the liver. Bitter foods in general are supportive and detoxifying of the liver. Here is a list of foods that love the liver:
Leafy greens - collard greens, kale, swiss chard, mustard greens, kelp, arugula, spinach
Parsley & Cilantro
Vegetables: Broccoli, cauliflower, Onions, Garlic, brussel sprouts
Seeds & nuts: pumpkin seeds, chia seeds, walnuts, almonds, hazelnuts
Incorporating liver loving foods into your diet daily is an easy way to support your liver- one of the most important and hard working organs in your body!