Lycopene, a compound found in a number of fruits and vegetables, can help address the symptoms of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD), proving just how important these foods are to living a full and healthy life.

Excessive fat has far-reaching repercussions on your health. You may be familiar with the role it plays on cardiovascular health, but it can also negatively affect your other organs. For instance, the accumulation of fat in your liver leads to NAFLD.

By itself, NAFLD is not too serious – it can be managed and even reversed. But left untreated, it can progress to nonalcoholic steatohepatitis, a condition that causes inflammation in the liver. This inflammation leads to scarring and eventually, irreversible damage. At its worst, nonalcoholic steatohepatitis may result in complete liver failure and death.

Apart from regular exercise, a healthy diet is needed to address NAFLD and supply the liver with nutrients it needs for optimal function. According to a study published in the Journal of Medicinal Foodone of these nutrients is lycopene.

The study’s goal was to evaluate the effects of lycopene treatment in conjunction with a healthy diet on NAFLD. The authors divided rats into two groups: For four weeks, one received a normal diet while the other followed a high-fat diet to induce NAFLD.

After this, the rats in the NAFLD group were divided further: For another four weeks, one group followed a normal diet while the other received lycopene while also on a normal diet.

The researchers found that reverting the members of the NAFLD group to a normal diet helped reverse most of their symptoms. However, it was the group that received lycopene together with a normal diet that showed the most recuperation, particularly, in terms of liver weight, hepatic TC, serum LDL, and even in the macroscopic and microscopic images of the liver.