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Foods to Avoid a Fatty Liver

author image Bethany Fong, R.D.
Bethany Fong is a registered dietitian and chef from Honolulu. She has produced a variety of health education materials and worked in wellness industries such as clinical dietetics, food service management and public health.
Foods to Avoid a Fatty Liver
Obesity causes a fatty liver. Photo Credit Digital Vision./Digital Vision/Getty Images


The American Liver Foundation (ALF) defines a fatty liver as “the build-up of excess fat in the liver cells.” One of the biggest risk factors for a fatty liver is obesity, which is caused by excess calorie consumption. Other risk factors include diabetes, high cholesterol or triglycerides, alcohol abuse, gastric bypass surgery, certain medications and malnutrition. There is no standard treatment for fatty liver but Johns Hopkins University reports that weight loss can help prevent and treat a fatty liver.

Fruits, Vegetables and Whole Grains

Foods to Avoid a Fatty Liver
Fresh fruits and vegetables. Photo Credit Ablestock.com/AbleStock.com/Getty Images

A healthy diet is rich in fruits, vegetables and whole grains. Fruits, vegetables and whole grains are naturally low in calories and fat but high in fiber. According to the American Dietetic Association fibrous foods increase the feeling of fullness that can prevent overeating and subsequent weight gain. Fiber-rich diets can also prevent type 2 diabetes, a risk factor for a fatty liver.

Protein and Dairy

Foods to Avoid a Fatty Liver
Protein sources. Photo Credit Comstock/Stockbyte/Getty Images

The best proteins to support weight maintenance and weight loss are from lean sources like poultry, eggs, soy, lean meats, fish, seafood, beans and legumes. Excess fat and calories can be reduced by removing all visible fat and skin from meat and poultry prior to cooking and using healthy methods to cook foods like grilling, steaming, broiling, baking, roasting and poaching. The healthiest dairy products include low-fat or non-fat milk, yogurt and cheese.

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Low-Cholesterol Foods

Foods to Avoid a Fatty Liver
Olive oil. Photo Credit mythja/iStock/Getty Images

Cholesterol is a type of fat found in animal products. A report in the August 7, 2011 issue of the "World Journal of Gastroenterology," recommends a diet that is low in saturated and trans fats. Foods high in omega fatty acids such as fatty fish, olive oil and nuts are recommended to help treat fatty liver. The report also recommends foods low in simple sugars and high-fructose corn syrup.

Non-alcoholic Beverages

Foods to Avoid a Fatty Liver
Juice is a healthy alternative beverage. Photo Credit Evgeny Karandaev/iStock/Getty Images

Alcohol puts stress on the liver and is closely tied to liver disease. According to the California Pacific Medical Center as little as one glass of beer or wine a week can contribute to a fatty liver. The ALF encourages individuals with a fatty liver to avoid all alcohol. Examples of non-alcoholic beverages include water, juice, soda, tea, coffee, sports drinks and milk.

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