If you have a diagnosis of or are worried about developing fatty liver, the food you eat could make a life-saving difference. Outside of having a genetic predisposition or an underlying absorption condition like leaky gut syndrome, one of the leading causes of fatty liver disease is poor diet. By focusing on healthy weight loss and an improved diet, you can reverse fatty liver and restore your liver function to optimal levels. To that end, here are five of the tastiest chicken recipes for fatty liver to get your healthy meal planning starting.
What Is Fatty Liver?
Fatty liver could refer to two different types of liver disease: alcoholic and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease. Each of them occurs when there’s an increased buildup of fat (triglycerides) in the liver. Here are the further distinctions.
- Alcoholic fatty liver disease (alcoholic steatohepatitis): People who experience liver issues after long-term drinking to excess may develop alcoholic fatty liver disease. This condition often comes with chronic inflammation in the liver leading to liver damage, alcoholic hepatitis, scarring (cirrhosis), liver failure, and possible death.
- Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD): Fatty liver disease that does not develop due to heavy alcohol use falls into this category, including simple fatty liver (a buildup of fat in the organ that may or may not progress to disease), and nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH), a disease that could lead to irreversible cirrhosis or life-threatening liver cancer.
To potentially reverse alcoholic fatty liver disease, the first order of business is to detox from alcohol. For non-alcoholic fatty liver, a fatty liver diet focused on liver health is your best medicine.
What Is the Fatty Liver Diet?
The fatty liver diet, much like any healthy diet, embraces whole foods like fruits and veggies, dietary proteins, and high-fiber foods like legumes (beans) and whole grains. It’s not unlike the Mediterranean diet plan, which prioritizes foods like cold-pressed olive oil and fish over refined vegetable oils and red meat. A quick rundown of foods that can improve fatty liver include:
- Dark leafy greens like kale, spinach, and broccoli
- Tofu and quinoa for low-fat plant protein
- Fish like tuna, salmon, and trout that are high in omega-3 fatty acids
- Seeds and nuts like sunflower seeds and walnuts for more omega-3 support and heart health
- Low-fat dairy for the essential amino acids contained in whey protein
- Whole grains like oats for the fiber content that aids weight loss and healthy digestion
- Poultry products like chicken breast and eggs
- Garlic and garlic powder for helping with body weight loss
- Avocados, olives, and olive oil for healthy fats and certain phytochemicals that help fight liver damage
- Beverages like coffee and green tea to help lower abnormal liver enzymes
Chicken Recipes for Fatty Liver: Top 5 Tasty Meals
If you’re looking for chicken recipes and meal plans that can contribute to a healthy liver, here are a few ideas to get you started.
1. Easy Pan-Seared Chicken Breasts
Let’s start with a simple recipe from Olga at What’s In the Pan?: plain chicken breasts with just a few spices for flavoring that you can sauté right on your stovetop. Her recipe calls for 4 chicken breasts, half a cup of flour (try almond or coconut flour instead of refined white flour for optimal health), Italian seasoning, onion powder, and garlic powder. That plus a pinch of salt and pepper, and all prepared in just a few tablespoons of rich olive oil. It’s a fried food that won’t damage your health, but instead promotes it.
At a total time of 15 minutes, you can have this clean chicken recipe ready for dinner tonight, and serve healthy food to the whole family.
2. Mediterranean Chicken Quinoa Bowl with Broccoli and Tomato
This healthy recipe from Heidi at FoodieCrush combines boneless, skinless chicken with spices including minced garlic, dried oregano, and freshly ground black pepper. Tossed in are fatty liver diet-approved additions like roasted tomatoes, broccoli, and crumbled feta cheese, all in a protein-rich bowl of the pseudocereal quinoa.
You almost couldn’t fit more nutritious whole foods in one bowl: marinate the chicken, simmer the veggies in olive oil, and mix it all together for a powerful, filling meal to fuel your body.
3. Creamy Garlic Chicken
Shelly at Cookies & Cups provides a rich, seemingly decadent, flavorful dish with chicken in a creamy garlic sauce. Seasoned with smashed garlic, garlic powder, kosher salt, ground black pepper, and crushed red pepper flakes, and topped by a sauce made with chicken broth, heavy cream, mascarpone cheese, and flour for thickening.
Full of healthy ingredients that contribute vital nutrients to your liver, this recipe would make a hardy wintertime dish to serve warm and garnish with parsley.
4. Chicken and Black Bean Salad
Liz at The Lemon Bowl has another nutritionally dense recipe perfect for a fatty liver diet. Shredded chicken is mixed in with dark, leafy greens full of vitamins, beans that are excellent for stabilizing blood sugar levels while you digest, and fresh veggies like cucumber, tomatoes, scallions, and cilantro. Prep your chicken in advance or buy a lean rotisserie from the grocery store so you can prepare this meal in as little time as it takes to prepare the beans and stir your salad bowl. Just add lime juice, garlic, and cumin for zest!
This recipe makes for an excellent portable lunch: food in one container and sauce in the other. Just combine when hungry.
5. Creamy Chicken and Spinach Quesadillas
For those who want to be healthy while saving money, Beth at Budget Bytes has a simple recipe (costs included) for a chicken and spinach quesadilla spiced with cumin, chili, and garlic powder, and held together by melty Monterey jack cheese. With some light sour cream and a healthy tortilla, you can layer together this quick bite to eat without breaking the bank.
Other Supplemental Foods for Fatty Liver
Other dietary supplements you can consume to reduce symptoms of fatty liver and promote detoxification include:
- Milk thistle: An herbal remedy with antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and antifibrotic (meaning it reduces scar tissue formation) abilities, milk thistle has been used medicinally to help treat chronic liver conditions.
- Turmeric and black pepper: Turmeric’s active ingredient curcumin has been shown time and again in clinical trials to reduce inflammation throughout the body, including for conditions like rheumatoid arthritis. Black pepper contains piperine, which helps boost curcumin’s bioavailability and absorption by up to 2,000%.
- Amino acids: The reason protein foods like chicken, fish, and quinoa are important when recovering liver health is because they contain amino acids, the building blocks of protein and the source for many vital hormones and enzymes needed for detoxification and beyond. Amino acids are necessary for tissue repair.
Just be sure to seek medical advice before adding liver cleansing supplements of any kind, especially if you’re already on prescribed medications.
You’re No Chicken
The most amazing quality of the liver is that it can heal and recover from damage in ways other organs, like your heart and kidneys, cannot. Lifestyle changes and a balanced, whole foods diet can literally cure what ails you, so long as you’re brave enough to make those changes and stick to them.