More and more people are being told they have fatty liver disease. A fatty liver can cause serious health problems, fibrosis or cirrhosis, for example, but an adjustment of dietary habits can give remarkable results.

Nuts and lentils are especially important in the diet, according to research.
An Israeli team (Ben Gurion University of the Negev) compared the effectiveness of three different dietary adjustments for people with excess liver fat. In addition to dietary guidelines, all participants were also submitted to an exercise program.

The first group followed the classic healthy dietary advice, a second group followed a Mediterranean diet with lots of fruits and vegetables, moderate consumption of fish and dairy products, strong restriction of red and processed meat, and the third group followed a ‘green’ Mediterranean diet. In addition, the Mediterranean diet was supplemented with a daily portion of walnuts (28 g) and ‘green’ ingredients rich in polyphenols. For example, the volunteers drank three to four cups of green tea a day and a 100 gram shake with Mankai (also called duckweed or water lentils), a freshwater plant that contains a lot of protein and important vitamins, minerals, dietary fiber and antioxidants.

After 18 months, the participants underwent MRI scans again to analyze liver fat and the results were quite impressive. The first group lost an average of 12% liver fat, the second group 20% and the third a whopping 40%. More Mankai and walnuts and less red/processed meat therefore has a strikingly positive effect on liver fat. The research results have since been published in Gut, a leading international journal on gastroenterology and hepatology.

Elena Mars

Born in London, England and raised in Orlando, FL, Elena graduated from the University of Central Florida with a bachelors' degree in Health Sciences. She later received her masters' in Creative Writing  from Drexel University. She writes part-time for the Scientific Origin and focuses mostly on health related issues.