The Centers for Disease Control notes that the liver is “one of the largest and most important organs” and that it does a multitude of incredibly essential tasks to keep our bodies running smoothly—from filtering out waste products to processing food, alcohol, and medicine. Hopkins Medicine states that the liver holds about a pint of the body’s blood supply “at any given moment,” and produces bile, which helps to regulate dietary processes and remove waste products. The liver also helps to balance the body’s chemical levels and processes and is said to do more than 500 varying functions to help support your body.
Clearly, the liver is truly an organ MVP… which is why it’s so important to keep it as healthy as possible.
Regular exercise, eating a balanced diet, avoiding toxins, getting proper vaccinations, and other healthy practices can help keep your liver functioning properly, according to The American Liver Foundation. And when it comes to your diet, eating plenty of fruits and veggies, fiber-rich whole grains, poultry, and fish is also recommended by the Foundation.
But what about the foods you should avoid? Unfortunately, there are many. Read on to discover the worst snack foods for your liver, according to research. And for more, check out the best supplements to take for your liver.
This one shouldn’t come as a surprise. Anything packed with an abundance of sugar is a good thing to avoid when it comes to protecting your liver health, notes Healthline. And soda epitomizes some of the myriad issues with foods that cause liver damage, such as high sugar content, artificial chemicals, flavorings, additives, as well as a lack of any substantial nutritional benefits—even if it’s of the diet or caffeine-free variety.
Bottom line: If you consider soda your go-to midday “snack,” you might want to reconsider that choice.
Consuming too much salt can have a negative effect on your liver function, The American Liver Foundation confirms. So, a large bag of chips enjoyed in one sitting can definitely be a less-than-ideal snack choice.
Of course, it’s best to avoid processed, fried foods, in general. If you’re looking for a crunchy snack, try some crudité—munching on raw vegetables makes your body and organs very happy!
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It’s not a snack per see, but it’s worth noting that alcohol does a doozy on your liver, especially if you drink a lot in one sitting or over the course of a night. The liver helps to break down alcohol, so when you consume more than one drink in a short period of time, the organ has to work really, really hard to metabolize it. That’s why The American Liver Foundation recommends limiting yourself to one drink per day for women and two for men.
For this reason, it’s also best not to make your liver work “double duty” by mixing alcohol and soda.
Surprise! Crackers may seem relatively innocuous, but they’re not an excellent option for your liver health. Foods with refined carbs or sugars, high-fructose corn syrup, and white bread, rice, or pasta can all be problematic for the liver, according to research. It can be so easy to just munch on crackers mindlessly, but keep your liver in mind the next time you reach for a sleeve.
Too much red meat and/or salt is a problem for the liver, says The American Liver Foundation, so it should go without saying that cured meats like prosciutto, or even cold cuts like ham, bologna, or salami, are all foods that are best eaten sparingly. Instead, opt for lean meats like chicken, turkey, or a tuna sandwich.
This is an interesting inclusion, huh? According to a 2013 study, over-consumption of fruits can actually introduce too much fructose to the body, which the liver may have issues processing, and can result in fatty liver issues. Canned fruits are also often packed with saccharine syrups and added sugars.
This goes without saying, right? Fried foods offer a multitude of issues for the body—and the liver is one organ that is especially affected. The American Liver Foundation is clear in its directives to avoid fried food (and fast food!) if looking to maintain a healthy liver. Many fried foods often tend to be breaded or dairy-heavy, which are also other foods that should be eaten in moderation in order to support your liver health.
Looking for more information on healthy snacks? Check out the 50 best healthy snacks for weight loss!