While there is no specific diet for people with liver cancer, healthcare professionals may recommend various foods that can promote healing.

The hepatitis B and hepatitis C viruses are the most common causes of liver cancer. However, genetics, exposure to carcinogenic substances, and various lifestyle factors can also play a role in the development of liver cancer.

Diet, like other lifestyle factors, can affect a person’s mortality rate from liver cancer. It can also potentially affect someone’s risk of developing this cancer.

Eating a nutritious and balanced diet that is rich in certain foods may help reduce a person’s risk of liver cancer.

This article discusses some foods that may help reduce the risk of liver cancer and reduce mortality for those who have this cancer. It also explains which foods may be better to consume during treatment.

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Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) is the most common form of primary liver cancer in adults and often follows the development of cirrhosis.

Because cirrhosis negatively affects appetite and nutrient absorption and increases metabolic needs, people with HCC can be at risk of severe malnutrition. Adequate nutritional support can be essential to managing this cancer.

A healthcare professional may outline nutritional plans for a person based on their specific needs. This comprehensive nutritional assessment may involve an extensive physical examination, an analysis of medical history, and laboratory data, as well as other factors relating to the cancer.

While health professionals will generally provide specific nutrition guidelines based on the needs of the individual, some foods have an association with potential benefits for managing and reducing the risk of liver cancer. Conversely, some foods can worsen symptoms and possibly increase liver cancer risk.

Learn more about liver cancer.

Foods to include

Healthcare professionals may recommend that people with liver cancer include certain foods in their eating plan.

Whole grains

Research suggests that consumption of whole grains has an inverse relationship with liver cancer. In a 2021 study, groups who ate the most whole grains had the lowest liver cancer risk and lower liver cancer mortality rates. This may be largely due to dietary fiber.


Legumes such as beans, lentils, and chickpeas are another great source of fiber. They may potentially protect against liver cancer and may have an inverse relationship with the condition. Research suggests that people may benefit from consuming 8–40 grams of legumes per day.

Fruits and vegetables

Fruits and vegetables are rich in vitamins, minerals, fiber, and antioxidants, and regularly consuming them may help prevent various types of cancer.

A 2023 study suggests that cruciferous vegetables and lettuce have the most potential to reduce liver cancer risk and chronic liver disease (CLD) mortality risk.

Some research from 2019 found that men who consumed more vegetables had a 50% reduction in liver cancer risk.


One study from 2010 found an inverse relationship between the consumption of white meat and fish and CLD risk. This includes oily fish rich in n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acid (n-3 PUFA), such as:

Research suggests that consuming enough n-3 PUFA may even protect against HCC development in people with existing hepatitis B or C infections.

Lean fish, fatty fish, crustaceans, and mollusks may also have independent associations with lower HCC risk, according to research from 2013.

Read about cancer-fighting foods.

Foods to avoid

People may wish to limit or avoid certain types of foods that might potentially increase cancer risk.


Aflatoxins have a potential association with an increased risk of liver cancer. They can be present in foods such as:

  • corn
  • rice
  • peanuts
  • sesame seeds
  • sunflower seeds
  • wheat
  • some dried foods and spices

Aflatoxins are the result of fungal infection or crop contamination before and after harvest. They can also transmit to livestock through feed, resulting in the contamination of meat and other animal products, such as eggs and dairy.

Myotoxins affect around 25% of the world’s crops, and most of those toxins are aflatoxins. However, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regularly tests food for aflatoxin contamination, and no known outbreaks of aflatoxin-induced illness have occurred in the United States.

Red meat

Research from 2017 notes that red meat has a positive correlation with HCC and CLD, meaning that high consumption of red meat can increase a person’s risk of developing liver cancer.

High red meat intake may also increase the risk of mortality for those already living with liver cancer, according to a 2021 review.

Processed meat

Processed meat is a Group 1 carcinogen, which means there is evidence that it can cause cancer in humans.

It is high in iron and saturated fat, which have links with cancer development. Processed meat also has links with the development of high risk factors for cancer, such as diabetes and obesity. Insulin resistance, which has an association with processed meat consumption, also has a direct relationship to liver cancer.

Learn more about diet and cancer risk.

People who are receiving treatment for liver cancer may have to undergo chemotherapy or liver resection (the removal of part of all of the liver). Certain foods might help manage symptoms associated with treatment in people with liver cancer.

During chemo

During chemotherapy treatment, it is essential for people to eat enough protein and calories. People undergoing chemo may find that their appetite decreases. They may also experience other symptoms that make eating difficult, such as mouth sores and diarrhea.

This means it can be important for a person to try new foods and supplement their diet with high protein, high calorie snacks such as:

Read more about diet and chemotherapy.

After surgery

It is also important to eat well-balanced and healthy meals after surgery. The following foods have associations with lower CLD mortality:

  • lettuce
  • sweet potatoes
  • cruciferous vegetables, such as:
    • broccoli
    • cabbage
    • cauliflower
  • legumes
  • carrots

During periods of recovery, healthcare professionals typically recommend that people severely limit or avoid alcohol consumption.

Several common diets claim to treat or even “cure” cancer. However, there is no scientific evidence to support this, and no diet can replace professional medical treatment.

These diets include:

Cancer resources

To discover more evidence-based information and resources for cancer, visit our dedicated hub.

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A person’s risk of developing liver cancer might decrease if they include cruciferous vegetables, legumes, whole grains, and fish in their diet and limit their consumption of red and processed meats.

For people who have liver cancer or are recovering from it, these same dietary elements may help manage symptoms during treatment or reduce mortality risk. However, situations vary from person to person, and a person should always seek individual advice from a medical professional.