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Four Nuts That Support Your Liver


Nicole Cutler

Dec 23rd, 2011

Besides being a tasty snack, some nuts provide a surprisingly healthy combination of liver-protective substances.


When it comes to questioning their healthfulness, nuts are not always portrayed in a positive light. This perception is largely due to the popularity of honey-roasted snacks and other nut products prepared with lots of additional fat, sugar and salt. However, nuts in their raw form are actually a kind of super food – protein-dense morsels loaded with nutritious substances. Because of the additional nutritional needs of a compromised liver, individuals living with liver disease are typically advised to include nuts in their diet.

Nuts are an excellent natural food, perfectly adapted to our taste and ability to pick, dry, store and crack. Because they have hard shells and are picked off large trees with deep roots, nuts are relatively well protected from pesticides and environmental pollution. Corresponding to pesticides and pollution, the liver is the organ responsible for neutralizing any toxins found in the bloodstream. For someone with liver disease, this function may be impaired. To ease the stress of detoxification on the liver, foods with a low level of toxicity, like nuts, are ideal for people with liver disease.

Besides their low risk of toxicity, nuts are highly nutritious, being a good source of protein, high in antioxidants and full of healthful, unsaturated fats:

•    Protein is essential for those with a compromised liver because it provides the building blocks for new cells, tissue repair and a functioning immune system.

•    Antioxidants are essential for those with a compromised liver because they help neutralize free radicals, factors known to damage liver cells.

•    Healthful, unsaturated fats are essential for those with a compromised liver because they help protect against fat accumulation in the liver. In addition, these good fats are essential to build healthy cell membranes around liver cells.

According to a 2009 Loma Linda University study, women who eat nuts weigh less and get more fiber, vitamin E, calcium, magnesium and potassium than those who don’t consume nuts. In addition, nut eaters were found to have higher levels of high density lipoproteins (good cholesterol) and lower levels of C-reactive protein (a marker of inflammation in the body) than those who don’t consume nuts. For the purpose of defending against liver disease, high density lipoproteins help protect against fatty liver disease and low levels of C-reactive protein correlate with a reduction of inflammation in the liver (a precursor to liver cell damage).

Four nuts treasured for nourishing liver health include:

1.    Brazil Nuts – Brazil nuts are a good source of protein, copper, niacin, magnesium, fiber, vitamin E and selenium. Brazil nuts are one of the most concentrated food sources of selenium, with about 80 micrograms per nut. Selenium is especially valuable to those with liver disease because it is an antioxidant that helps protect against damage to liver cells, mobilizes cancer-fighting cells, strengthens immunity and contributes to tissue elasticity – an essential for healthful liver tissue.

2.    Walnuts – Walnuts contain the amino acid arginine, which is necessary to help the liver detoxify ammonia. Walnuts are also high in glutathione and omega-3 fatty acids, both of which are known to support healthful liver detoxification.

3.    Pecans – Pecans have many vitamins and minerals like vitamins E and A, folic acid, calcium, magnesium, copper, phosphorus, potassium, manganese, B vitamins and zinc. Pecans are especially rich in one form of vitamin E called gamma-tocopherols. A study published in the January 2011 edition of the Journal of Nutrition found that after eating pecans, gamma-tocopherol levels in the body doubled and unhealthy oxidation of low density lipoproteins (bad cholesterol) in the blood decreased by as much as 33 percent. This finding renders pecans a tasty weapon against fatty liver disease.

4.    Almonds – Almonds have as much calcium as milk, and contain magnesium, vitamin E, selenium and lots of fiber. Magnesium is a crucial mineral for blood vessel relaxation, an invaluable component of blood moving smoothly throughout the liver. In addition, almonds reduce surges of blood sugar after meals, a known contributor to fatty liver disease.

What About Peanuts?
Although technically a legume, peanuts are one of America’s most popular snacks. Peanuts are exceptionally healthy because they contain monounsaturated fats, phytosterols, resveratrol, vitamins and minerals. However, there is some conflicting information regarding their benefit to the liver. This is primarily because of peanuts’ potential for being contaminated with aflatoxins, a potent carcinogen produced by certain strains of mold that grow in warm, humid silos. However, aflatoxins can be discouraged by only consuming fresh peanuts, storing them in a dry, cool environment and buying from reputable sources.

Eating nuts and only nuts is not a route towards total health, but substituting raw nuts for less healthful snacks is a liver-friendly dietary change. We know that those with liver disease can influence the course of their illness via the foods they eat. As such, the nutrition packed into Brazil nuts, walnuts, pecans and almonds is a tasty ally for protecting and supporting the liver’s well-being., Health Nuts: Seeds and Nuts You Should Eat Every Day, Retrieved November 13, 2011, Chris Beat Cancer, 2011., Antioxidants in Pecans may contribute to heart health and disease prevention, Retrieved November 13, 2011,, 2011., Cancer Fighting Foods/Spices, Retrieved November 13, 2011, Cancer Cure Foundation, 2011., Nuts and Seeds Are Excellent Foods!, Joel Fuhrman, MD, Retrieved November 13, 2011, DrFuhrman Online, 2011., Perplexed About Peanuts, Andrew Weil MD, Retrieved November 14, 2011, Weil Lifestyle, LLC, 2011., Aflatoxins in Your Food – and their Effect on Your Health, Retrieved November 14, 2011, EHSO, 2011., They’re Good for Us, But Which Nut is Best?, Retrieved November 13, 2011, Presidents and Fellows of Harvard College, October 2004., 5 Best Nuts for your Health, Jill Weisenberger, MS, RD, CDE, Retrieved November 13, 2011,, 2011., Selenium Boosts Liver Protection Regimes, Nicole Cutler, L.Ac., Retrieved November 13, 2011, Natural Wellness, 2011., Foods that are Good for Fatty Liver, August McLaughlin, Retrieved November 13, 2011,, 2011., The Best Nuts and Seeds for YOu, Retrieved November 13, 2011, True Beauty Tips, 2011., Selenium, Retrieved November 13, 2011, The George Mateljan Foundation, 2011.

  • Michael Sappol

    What about cashews and macadamia nuts?

    • Angelo

      What about them? If they were good for liver support wouldn’t she have included them?

  • rita

    I just wasn’t hungry for dinner tonight and ate a couple tangerines, some dates and figs and a whole bunch of brazil nuts.Made my day to then read here how healthy those nuts are!

    • Joanna

      Just to let you know in case you don`t – dry fruits like figs shouldn`t be mixed with nuts, they need different ph to be absorbed by the body, ear them separately. nuts should be eaten with acid fruits only – oranges, kiwi etc

  • Stan

    Are pistachio nuts safe?

    • Angelo

      Of course. What harm do you think they may cause?



    • Elan508

       Sweetie, please don’t shout, lower case only, ty

  • Angel

    I eat all of them almost every day, but I dont know what would be the minimum amount to eat each day? or per week? How do I know that I am not overloading my liver.
    Brazil Nuts:
    Thank you

  • Dawn

    I am getting over systemic candida albicans and have to have a diet rich in protein, and obviously no sugar or yeast.Raw nuts are excellent, but when the gut is still healing I find skinned nuts better, especially blanched almonds.

  • Anthony Banks

    I stated my wife on milk thistle after reading on your site and asking my wifes doctor at the hospital and have seen remarkable results i will try the almonds as she likes them and will keep you informed many thanks to you all at liver support

  • Lionel Stewart

    Thank you so much for your publication. Since reading and adopting your many suggestions on liver-friendly foods my body feels brand new and like a million bucks. Please keep on sending the good stuff.

  • rick

    I do eat these nuts about twice a month
    I also wonder how much is enough
    I love nuts

  • Jo Dee

    According to Weight Watchers, a portion of Almonds is 1 oz. (approx. 23 nuts). Pecans and Walnuts are also 1 oz. (approx. 14 halves). Brazil nuts are 6 nuts or 28 grams.
    Hope this helps.

  • Steve

    Angelo are you always such a sarcastic tool?

  • john stevenson

    My doctor agrees with the milk thistle and I am going to the health food store for the mentioned nuts. thks.

  • mik008

    Good info,i have been on milk thistle for years with positive results,but will now start with nuts,anything to help.thankx.

  • Julie Engelke

    My health care provider has suggested to buy raw organic nuts,not from bins, soak in a light salt water solution ( 1 tsp sea salt to 1/2/ gallon water)for several hours , drain , rinse and roast at 350 degrees for 10 minutes, or dry. A serving is a palm full depending on the size of your hands, 10 – 20 almonds, pecans. I can store individual servings in the refrigerator after roasting so I don’t go crazy eating all in one sitting. Does the cooking change the effectiveness of the nut?

  • Paulo Lyra

    What about pumpking nuts (dried + salted) that I consume in large quantities weekly? Any comment on that? Thanks,

  • sue

    I eat honey roasted peanuts, cashews, & mixed nuts 3 & 4 times a week.. I knew they are good for you & they help with the digestive system also,, I really like pistachios also are they a good source for you also?

  • Tom

    I daily soak almonds, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, and flax seeds, all raw overnight with oat groats. In the a.m. I chew or let blender chew with a peach or a persimmon, and half a banana. Yum!
    It’s easy, filling for many hours. Mid-afternoon snack is often that in a jar.
    I think soaking overnight energizes sprouting enzymes, improving digestibility and nutriet value. Try it! Try different nuts. GO NUTS!

  • Dominick Arana

    Just told today by my Doctor that there is a spot on my liver,and must have cat scan,just found this support group,Thank God!because I was about to freak out!I will start milk thistle again,and just go nuts!thanks for the info.