7 foods that help fatty liver disease
Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) is on the rise in Australia, mainly in people who are obese or have type 2 diabetes. Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease is a serious condition which can progress to non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH) and liver cirrhosis.
There are no medicines to treat the disease, with lifestyle improvements and weight loss the main treatments.
However, researchers from the University of Sydney say that in addition to exercise and calorie restriction, specific foods are effective in improving or avoiding the development of NAFLD and NASH:
- Oily fish/fish oil has been shown to reduce liver fat (steatosis) and aspartate aminotransferase levels (a liver function test that indicates liver damage), with moderate evidence that it is effective for NAFLD and good evidence for metabolic disease. The researchers recommend 2 servings of oily fish per week.
- Coffee has a multi-pronged effect on liver disease, improving insulin sensitivity and reducing the odds of type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular (heart and blood vessel) disease. Three cups a day are recommended.
- Nuts show potential as a treatment in NAFLD through improvements to blood fats like cholesterol, liver fat and inflammation. The researchers recommend a handful a day.
- Green and black tea may lessen the development and progression of NAFLD, lowering blood fats and improving insulin sensitivity. But the evidence is not as strong as with other foods, and people would have to drink 5 to 10 cups a day to get a benefit.
- Red wine may improve insulin resistance and blood fats, possibly due to the effect of the antioxidant resveratrol. A modest consumption is recommended, of around 100-200ml per day.
- Avocados are a rich source of oil with high monounsaturated fatty acid (good fat) content. They have lipid lowering, antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and weight maintenance properties, with half an avocado recommended daily.
- Olive oil is beneficial for people with NAFLD when used as a part of a low-fat Mediterranean diet. It is lipid lowering, and reduces oxidative stress and liver fat. Around 20g per day is recommended.