Love Your Liver with Wholegrains

Posted December 2023
Porridge made with some Corn Thins slices

Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease (NAFLD) is the most common type of fatty liver disease worldwide. NAFLD puts you at greater risk of other diseases such as heart disease and can progress to more serious conditions such as non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH) and cancer. NAFLD is increasing at the same rate as obesity and is becoming an epidemic in society. There are many ways you can reduce your risk of this chronic disease including diet and exercise.

Your liver is vital for detoxification, immune and metabolism of nutrients in your body. As the largest organ in your body, you want it functioning optimally. People with NAFLD have a high amount of saturated and monounsaturated fat in their liver. Also, a high level of triglycerides in their liver.

A study which investigated the effects of resistant starch on liver triglycerides over a four month period. There are many different types of fiber and one of these is called resistant starch. Resistant starch is a type of carbohydrate which resists digestion in your small intestine. It is a fuel source or prebiotic fiber for the health promoting microbes which live in your large intestine. It is beneficial to your health for many reasons to include resistant starch as a component to your daily diet. One way you may not have considered is to benefit the health of your liver.

Researchers investigated the possible link between resistant starch and liver triglyceride levels using two hundred people with NAFLD. These participants received a balanced dietary plan provided by a nutritionist. In addition to this, one hundred also received a resistant starch powder made from maize. The other one hundred participants received a calorie-matched non resistant corn starch. Twenty grams of the starch mixture was drunk twice daily before meals.

After four months, the participants who received the resistant starch powder made from maize had almost forty percent lower liver triglyceride levels compared to the participants who received the non resistant corn starch powder. Further benefits were seen as the resistant starch group also had lower levels of liver enzymes which are linked to liver inflammation and injury.

Before you head to the supplement store, by eating a variety of whole plant based foods you can provide your body with enough total fiber including resistant starch each day to keep your entire body, including your liver, healthy.

Good sources of resistant starch include:

  1. Wholegrains such as cooked and cooled rice and pasta and oats. Also, corn tortillas.
  2. Legumes and beans
  3. Green bananas
  4. Cooked and cooled potatoes


This means that enjoying leftovers not only helps reduce waste, but also increases the level of resistant starch.

Take home message: Your liver is an essential organ for your health. Keeping it working at its best will allow you to live your best life. One important lifestyle strategy to help look after your liver is through a varied and balanced diet. As a part of this including enough dietary fiber and specifically resistant starch each day is important. Providing your body with adequate amounts of resistant starch may help promote healthy cholesterol levels within your liver and reduce inflammatory enzymes which may reduce its ability to function optimally.



  1. Weiping Jia & colleagues, Resistant starch decreases intrahepatic triglycerides in patients with NAFLD via gut microbiome alterations, Cell Metabolism (2023). DOI: 10.1016/j.cmet.2023.08.002. … 1550-4131(23)00297-8
Ashleigh Felth…
Accredited Practising Dietitian
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    • Ashleigh Felth…