3 Thanksgiving Sides to Help Your Liver
Thanksgiving is the ultimate food holiday, characterized by families gathering together to indulge in a culinary feast. Aside from turkey, one of the most traditional Thanksgiving dishes is the much-loved green bean casserole. Unfortunately, a classic green bean casserole hardly resembles a healthful veggie recipe. For those with Hepatitis C, a green bean casserole could actually escalate your woes by fanning the flames of liver inflammation and congesting your liver’s ability to detoxify the blood.
In the spirit of caring for your liver’s well being, consider swapping out the green bean casserole for a vegetable dish that can actually benefit your liver.
Green Bean Casserole History
The green bean casserole has been a Thanksgiving staple since the 1950s. In 1955, a home economist who worked in the Campbell Soup’s kitchen (not a nutritionist) named Dorcas Reilly devised and tested the infamous green bean casserole recipe. Fried onions were her solution to add texture and brighten the color of the grey-green dish of frozen green beans and Campbell’s Cream of Mushroom soup. According to Campbell’s, an estimated 40% of the Cream of Mushroom soup sold in the U.S. goes into making green bean casserole.
While the original recipe consisted of five simple ingredients – canned condensed cream of mushroom soup, frozen green beans, milk, pepper, and fried onions – the addition of soy sauce in later years certainly didn’t put this recipe into “health food” status.
Although green beans have a good nutritional profile, the soup and fried onions in green bean casseroles do not.
- Campbell’s Condensed Cream of Mushroom Soup – Among other ingredients, this soup contains modified food starch, wheat flour, monosodium glutamate, and cream. Each of these ingredients can contribute to liver inflammation and congestion. Modified food starch, wheat flour, and cream all increase the workload on your liver. This increase in workload causes your liver’s detox function to be sluggish. Monosodium glutamate has been shown to induce premature cell death – severely impacting the neuroendocrine system, as well as blood flow and organ functions. This food additive is known to raise liver enzyme levels and cause cellular inflammation – including liver cells.
- Fried Onions – The popular French’s Crispy Fried Onions (containing wheat flour and salt aside from the obvious onion) are not ideal for your liver because of their preparation in addition to the other ingredients in this favorite casserole. According to the American Liver Foundation, when you consume fried foods and pile on the salt “your liver is literally under attack.” The traditional green bean casserole recipe contains a whopping 620mg of sodium per serving! Since ideally, no more than 1,500mg of sodium are suggested per day for a healthy adult, just one serving of casserole provides about 41% of the ideal intake of daily sodium. Studies also suggest that regularly consuming fried foods are especially harmful to your liver. The changes in liver enzymes from eating these fried foods can be similar to the damage that is seen by hepatitis. Therefore avoiding fried foods is in our best interest when dealing with hepatitis.
3 Easy Liver-Friendly Vegetable Recipes
Instead of a green bean casserole, consider these three, easy, vegetable recipes that are suitable for a Thanksgiving feast while also aiding your liver in defending against Hepatitis C.
- Roasted Brussels Sprouts – Brussels sprouts are rich in vitamins C, K, folate, manganese and fiber. The fiber binds together with bile acids in the digestive tract – helping to lower cholesterol levels. Lower cholesterol levels decrease fat accumulation (and thus reduce inflammation) in your liver. In addition, Brussels sprouts are an excellent source of glucosinolates and sulfur – two compounds your cells need for detoxification. The more your liver is able to rid your body of toxins, the more resources available to protect itself against the Hepatitis C virus. A simple, yet healthy preparation is to toss the sprouts in balsamic vinegar, olive oil, garlic, salt, and pepper – and roast until tender on the inside.
- Asparagus – Asparagus is rich in vitamins A, C, E and K – antioxidants that help prevent against cellular damage. In addition, asparagus contains glutathione – one of the most potent antioxidants known for its ability to help with detoxification. Because asparagus protects liver cells from oxidation and subsequent damage, it will also protect your liver from the Hepatitis C virus. Although those with purine-related health concerns are advised to limit asparagus consumption, sautéed asparagus with lemon (another liver-healthy ingredient) is a healthy and tasty addition to any Thanksgiving feast. You can also try making roasted asparagus with lemon and thyme!
- Beet and Avocado Salad – Combining beets and avocado in a salad provides your liver with many tools to defend itself against the Hepatitis C virus. While raw beets are known to contain iron (1.1 mg per cup), they do not have as much iron as you would get from some leafy green vegetables such as cooked spinach (6 mg per cup) and would not be cause for concern unless you also have iron overload associated with more advanced hepatitis. Beets contain the amino acid betaine, which helps prevent and reduce fat accumulation in your liver. This reduces liver congestion. In addition, beets raise the amount of detoxification enzymes in the blood and help improve liver function. Avocados are loaded with vitamins and minerals that support your liver. They are extremely high in glutathione, as well as vitamins E, C and K, which squelch inflammation and protect liver cells from damage. Your Thanksgiving salad can be composed solely of beets and avocados, or these liver-health powerhouses can be combined with greens, pepitas, onions – or any other healthful salad ingredient. Try this Citrus, Beet and Avocado Salad recipe from Salt and Pepper Skillet.
There are many culinary choices to round out this year’s Thanksgiving feast. Skip the traditional green bean casserole and include Brussels sprouts, asparagus, beets and/or avocados into your holiday menu to reduce liver inflammation and congestion.
If you or a member of your family is managing Hepatitis C, check out the delicious liver-friendly recipes at LiverSupport.com so that your liver will really have something to be thankful for.
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