Fatty fish, such as tuna, contain high amounts of omega-3 fatty acids. These may reduce inflammation and fat accumulation in liver cells in people with non-alcohol-related fatty liver disease (NAFLD).
Many people refer to this health condition by an older name: nonalcoholic fatty liver disease.
Weight loss, through a combination of exercise and dietary modifications, remains the first line of treatment. It can help reverse NAFLD or keep it from progressing.
A person’s diet can affect their liver health. Some people may wonder whether fatty fish may benefit NAFLD.
Below, learn more about NAFLD, its management techniques, and whether raw tuna may help.
This term refers to a group of conditions that cause excess fat to accumulate in the liver.
The buildup of fat can injure the liver, leading to permanent scarring and irreversible damage to liver cells. These effects are called cirrhosis. Cirrhosis may lead to liver failure and liver cancer.
People who are
- more body weight
- type 2 diabetes
- abnormal levels of fat in their blood
- metabolic syndrome
Sometimes, heavy alcohol use can cause alcohol-associated liver disease. By contrast, people with NAFLD may drink little or no alcohol. There are
- Nonalcoholic fatty liver. People may refer to this as “NAFL.” There is fat in the liver but minimal or no inflammation, and no liver damage.
- Nonalcoholic steatohepatitis. People may refer to this as “NASH.” There is inflammation and liver damage, as well as excess fat, in the liver.
Older research suggests that raw tuna is a good source of many nutrients, including selenium and anti-inflammatory omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs).
However, eating raw fish comes with
Other fish that are
No significant evidence suggests that raw tuna can improve NAFLD. Fish oil supplements are a more concentrated source of EPA and DHA, and so may be helpful.
Fish oil contains omega-3 PUFAs. The main types of these acids are:
- alpha-linolenic acid
- increased insulin sensitivity
- increased levels of a hormone that breaks down fatty acids and reduces inflammation, called adiponectin
- reduced inflammation
- reduced levels of fats in the blood, such as serum cholesterol
- reduced blood pressure
- improved liver function tests
- increased breaking down of fatty acids in the mitochondria
- reduced fat in the liver, or hepatic steatosis
A 2018 study found that omega-3 long-chain PUFA supplementation led to significant improvements in people with NAFLD.
The improvements concerned:
- liver enzyme levels
- liver fat contents
- measures of hepatic steatosis
- metabolic risk factors
A 2020 review supported the findings above. It also suggested that omega-3 long-chain PUFA supplementation improves levels of fat in the liver, as demonstrated by a reduction in body mass index scores among people with NAFLD.
In a 2021 study, people with NAFLD and type 2 diabetes took 2000 milligrams of omega-3s every day for 12 weeks. The researchers found significant improvements in the participants’ fatty liver index, lipid accumulation product, and visceral adiposity index scores, compared with those of participants who had received a placebo.
Weight loss is key for managing NAFLD. But rapid, significant weight loss
A healthcare professional may recommend that a person with NAFLD loses
- whole grains
- legumes, such as beans and chickpeas
- nuts and seeds, including walnuts, pistachios, and sunflower seeds
- healthy fats, such as from healthy oils
- lean sources of protein
- fatty fish
People with NAFLD should limit:
- foods high in sodium
- foods high in simple sugars, such as pastries and cakes
- sweetened beverages, including juices and sodas
- sweeteners, such as corn syrup and fructose
- sources of refined carbohydrates, such as white rice and white bread
- foods high in saturated fat and trans fat, such as fried foods
- processed foods
A registered dietitian or a doctor can help create a diet plan that allows a person to reach their health goals.
The Mediterranean diet, in particular, may benefit people NAFLD by improving liver fat levels.
Exercise may help:
boostthe immune system improveliver enzyme levels reverseinsulin resistance preventhepatic steatosis and liver injury
Regular exercise might involve:
- light jogging
Exercising on its own
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommend that adults get at least
NAFLD is caused by fat building up in the liver, potentially causing inflammation and liver damage.
Raw tuna and other oily fish contain high amounts of omega-3 fatty acids. These may reduce inflammation and the amount of liver fat. They may also prevent further liver damage.
A healthy diet and regular exercise are the best ways to manage and prevent liver damage that stems from NAFLD. A registered dietician or a doctor can help a person tailor a dietary plan that helps them reach their weight loss goals safely. A doctor or dietitian can also advise about whether it is safe to eat raw tuna.