These Common Foods Could Hurt Your Liver

Your liver is one of the hardest working organs in your body and deserves more consideration than most people give it. While you’re well aware that persistent alcohol use can damage your liver, did you know that certain foods can contribute to its demise as well?

While most things are OK in moderation, some of these common foods may begin to affect your liver over time.

Deli meat

meat delicatessen plate

Deli meats do no favors for your liver. |

Foods that are extremely high in sodium — like deli meat — are taxing on your liver. While a normal amount of sodium (2,000 to 2,4000 milligrams a day) helps regulate your blood pressure and bodily fluids, high sodium foods create an excess fluid that your liver has to deal with.

Most deli meats have preservatives and unhealthy fats (saturated or trans fats) in them to keep them edible longer. Eating foods high in trans and saturated fats can lead to Non-Alcoholic Liver Disease (NALD). Studies have found that overweight people who eat too much animal protein are at higher risk of fatty liver than those who don’t.

Other high sodium foods to eat in moderation include:

  • Deli Meat
  • Cheese
  • Pizza

Canned veggies

Canned Vegetables

Choose your veggies fresh. | Boarding1Now/iStock/Getty Images

Canned veggies and soup fall the same way as the deli meat — far too much salt for your daily diet. Experts typically recommend keeping your sodium intake between 2,000 and 2,4000 milligrams per day, but studies consistently find that we consume more than that.

“Americans consume a lot of sodium,” said Kristen Roberts, Ph.D., RD, “We tend to have 5,000, 6,000, or even up to 10,000 milligrams a day due to fast foods and packaged foods that use salt as a preservative.”

Dried fruits

Organic Healthy Assorted Dried Fruit on a Plate

If you buy dried fruit, get it unsweetened. | iStock/Getty Images

Dried fruits may seem like a healthy alternative to candy, but oftentimes they have so many preservatives that they’re rendered unhealthy as well. Foods with high amounts of fructose (raisins, fruit juices, dried mangos, you name it) are still bad news for your liver.

The issue with fructose? It doesn’t break down in your body the way natural sugars do. Studies have shown fructose is closely tied to fatty liver and liver inflammation, and too much fructose can cause abnormal fat levels in your blood.

Try to eat these snacks in moderation. While they’re marketed as healthy, they often are packed with fructose:

  • Raisins/Dried cranberries
  • Fruit juices
  • Trail Mix

Sugary drinks


Cocktails are one of the worst offenders of liver damage. | IvanZivkovic/iStock/Getty Images

While you’re well aware that alcohol does no favors for your liver, did you know that sugary nonalcoholic drinks wreak havoc on it as well? Any beverage or food with high fructose corn syrup could be to blame for your declining liver function. Soft drinks, in particular, contain a form of high fructose corn syrup that’s an astounding 55% fructose — and research proves that consuming this much can cause liver damage, even if you don’t notice weight gain.

As far as alcohol is concerned, keep in mind how many drinks your liver can typically process: one standard drink (10 to 15 grams) in an hours time. Consuming more than one standard drink in an hour on multiple occasions over time can put you at risk of developing fat deposits on your liver.

Foods that can help your liver

  • Leafy greens and fresh vegetables
  • Oatmeal
  • Fish
  • Avocados
  • Green tea and coffee

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