The liver is a remarkable organ with tremendous regenerative properties. It assists digestion, alongside the intestines, pancreas, and gallbladder; cleans our blood, and helps metabolizing medicines and detoxifying chemicals. In traditional Chinese medicine, the liver carries qi, the vital force, into our muscles and joints.
The liver, along with our kidneys, is a major filtration system for toxins. The liver also impacts our hormones, vision, nails, and skin. The Chinese consider the liver to be the “General” of the body, a leader in command from which much of our health or disease derives.
Modern lifestyles place a tremendous load on the liver because of fatty foods, drugs of all kinds, alcohol, and diets heavy in animal products. The following recipes are nourishing to the wood element, or liver, according to five-element cooking, and are a wonderful alternative if you're designing a menu with the goal of protecting and helping your liver function.
01 of 09
This recipe for steel cut oats with flax and fruit features whole foods and is quick and easy: soak overnight and eat in the morning, or cook in big batches and reheat as needed for a full week or breakfasts. Steel-cut oats are chopped whole oats–less processed, and healthier than the instant variety. Fiber-rich, oats help digestion and lower cholesterol levels, are protein-rich, and have considerable amounts of protein. Combined with flax, which is rich in fatty acids, and sweet fruit, this breakfast is as tasty as it is healthy.
02 of 09
This potent green smoothie recipe is so full of liver-cleansing greens, it's guaranteed to deliver a pleasant rush of energy and to jump-start a sluggish digestive system. The banana is an optional addition for those who may not do well with too much of the green flavor, as it softens the intensity and adds creaminess. Organic produce is always recommended for smoothies and raw consumption of fruits and vegetables.
03 of 09
This simple Provencal carrot salad is common in southern France. Carrots are beneficial for the lungs, liver, and eyes; they help ease indigestion and acidic blood conditions. One of the best sources of beta-carotene, the carrots in the salad are combined with green vitamin-filled parsley, tangy lemon, mustard, and olive oil. Great when made with a sweet, juicy bunch of organic carrots, the salad is also great with larger carrots, as long as they're thoroughly washed and peeled. Often served alongside bowls of olives and other vegetable salads, this salad is a great appetizer or palate cleanser between courses.
04 of 09
This flavorful Morrocan carrot salad is particularly good served with tofu or white fish and bitter greens. Carrots are beneficial for the lungs, liver, and eyes. They also help digestion and blood-related conditions. Seasoned with garlic and cumin, also great for improving digestion, this salad is a great source of fiber and vitamins, and an excellent vegan and vegetarian side dish.Continue to 5 of 9 below.
05 of 09
This collard green salad is full of liver-cleansing and boosting ingredients. This cruciferous vegetable is packed with vitamins K, A, C, and folate, as well as calcium and magnesium. Filled with fiber, collard greens support digestion and provide antioxidant and anti-inflammatory benefits (lower blood cholesterol, prevent cancer, provide cardiovascular support). Although collards are usually cooked, this salad is instead consumed raw, for a quick and healthy side dish.
06 of 09
This quick and easy whole food sautée broccoli, with shallots, garlic, and lemon, is an excellent source of antioxidants, vitamins, and iron. Pungent garlic is also known to help with digestion and shallots (like all other alliums) are a great source of fiber and enzymes that help strengthen the immune system and gut flora.
07 of 09
This easy recipe for vegetable broth is a soothing and easy dish that can be incorporated into your daily menu as a light and healthy appetizer. This broth is packed with flavor from the vegetables and mushrooms, and can be served as is with chopped green onions on top, or be the base of other healthy dishes like thicker soups or rice.
08 of 09
Beetroots are an excellent source of fiber and are known for activating liver enzymes and the production of bile, thus helping detoxifying your system. Helpful in reducing inflammation, beetroot also helps to protect from oxidative stress. This easy salad roasts whole beetroots, with the skin on, with salt, thyme, and olive oil. Carefully peel to avoid your hands getting all red, and cube in medium-size chunks. Serve with your favorite citrus vinaigrette.Continue to 9 of 9 below.
09 of 09
Avocados are high in fat, but this type of healthy fat is beneficial to the body and helps with digestion and liver and hormonal function. Because they're nutrient-dense, avocados also help you stay satiated for longer. A daily serving of avocado (recommended: 2-ounce piece or one-quarter of a medium-sized fruit) is proven to help with weight maintenance. This easy salad uses fennel, too, which is a fiber-rich bulb with anise flavor that also helps the liver in its cleansing process, boosting its health and your overall well-being.