If you are wondering what to eat to improve fatty liver, take a few minutes to read to the end of this article. I will share with you what I have learned about fatty liver disease (FLD) and what foods you should and should not eat to reduce fat in the liver.
A fatty liver simply refers to having too much fat (specifically triglycerides) stored in your liver. So what exactly is “too much” fat? Generally speaking, a liver is considered “fatty” when fat makes up 5-10% or more of the liver by weight. Fat accumulates in and around the spaces of the hepatocytes (liver cells), causing the liver to enlarge and become heavier.
In the early stages of FLD, often referred to as simple steatosis, the condition is usually benign and asymptomatic. Many patients do not even know they have FLD. It is often found when doing blood tests or other tests for entirely different reasons. The only way to definitively diagnose the condition is through a liver biopsy, but factors such as elevated liver enzymes often give doctors clues to the problem.
A fatty liver diet plan usually focuses on balancing, moderating, regulating, and reducing fat intake to less than 30% of total daily calories. In other words, if you’re eating a 1,200-calorie diet, your calories from fat shouldn’t be more than 360 of those calories. This equates to about 40 grams per day. Since fatty liver is often associated with obesity, losing weight can have a significant impact on improving liver health and function.
So that brings us to the question of what you should and should not eat. Complex carbohydrates should make up the majority of your energy source. These can be found in things like whole grains, brown rice, and pasta. Simple carbohydrates found in sweets should be avoided.
Diets for fatty liver patients are also generally high in fiber and include a large amount of fruits and vegetables. Fats, particularly saturated ones, must be carefully controlled. Protein can be obtained from vegetables or leaner white meats like chicken or turkey instead of beef or pork. Here is a brief summary of some of the things you should and should not eat if you want to reduce fat in the liver.
Foods to avoid and / or carefully monitor
- White bread and white rice
- High-fat butters
- Sweets that contain simple carbohydrates (candy, donuts, etc.)
- High-fat foods (pizza, ribs, cakes, etc.)
- Eggs and other foods high in cholesterol.
- Sugary and / or carbonated drinks such as soda.
- Fast foods and / or processed meats such as hot dogs
- Fried food
- Alcohol (especially if you have alcoholic fatty liver (AFL))
- Salad dressing and other high-fat condiments (look for low-fat or fat-free alternatives)
- Red meat (beef, pork)
Foods to eat to improve fatty liver
- Vegetables (greens, leaves, legumes, tomatoes, and especially broccoli)
- Fruits rich in vitamin E and vitamin C (oranges, papaya, kiwi, mango)
- Beans (they are a great alternative source of protein)
- Whole grain breads
- Milk in moderation (substitute whole milk or 2% milk for skim milk or 1% milk)
- Brown rice and pasta
- Lean white meats (chicken, turkey, tuna)