Alcohol-proof your liver. SFAs.

it probably has other benefits, too. 

Tissue lipid turnover, adipose vs. liver.

Can the saturated fat & MCTs in dark chocolate & coconut oil protect liver against the ravages of alcohol?  Tonight?

The studies discussed in “The liver is evil but need not be punished.  SFAs”  entailed chronic alcohol feeding in combination with a high saturated fat/MCT diet – the animals were given a liquid diet of complete nutrition and a LOT of booze.   Not very applicable to humans, imo [hopefully].  Which brings up the question: how long does it take for coconut oil & dark chocolate to flex their hepato-protective muscles?

wine and dark chocolate

Fortunately, [if tissue fat composition is in fact the relevant protective factor], unlike adipose fat which hangs around for years (Beynen et al., 1980 & Katan et al., 1997), liver fat appears to turn over quite rapidly.

For example, a single shot of radiolabeled oleate is cleared out of the liver within a few days, whereas it lingers significantly longer in adipose of rats (Iritani et al., 2005).  And this is actually enhanced in rats fed a higher fat diet.fat-free diet

Similarly, a study on diet-induced changes in liver fat in humans showed that after only 3 days of low carb dieting, liver fat significantly declined in 5/10 patients, and in all of them by day 10 (Hollingsworth et al., 2006):liver fat time course

Shoutout to Mike Eades for directing me to this study.  Whatever happens after 3-10 days, I suspect, will reflect the new dietary pattern – you are what you eat?  :/

I don’t put too much stock in generic nutrition textbooks, but those data are rather close to estimates put forth by Frayn, Arner, and Yki-Jarvinen (2006, free full text):Frayn

Translation: while a single meal of dark chocolate and coconut oil may not acutely protect the liver from alcohol [tonight], a few days’ worth just might.


Red meat.   While the saturated fat content of red meat is expected to similarly bolster liver resistance to oxidative stress, another component – carnitine (of the recent TMAO infamy) – may also provide some benefit by enhancing liver fat turnover (Kepka et al., 2011 sorry no full text, so only in theory).  Taurine, also found in red meat, also prevents some alcohol-induced liver pathologies [in rats] (Kerai et al., 1998 & Pushpakiran et al., 2005).

Coffee, too (Gallus et al., 2002Tverdal et al., 2003; Klatsky et al., 2006; Lopez-Garcia et al., 2008Sugiyama et al., 2010).  Probably has more to do with prevention of lipid peroxidation via antioxidant polyphenols.  just sayin’     …compared to the SFA’ers, would those on a high PUFA diet benefit more from coffee in this regard?

The culprit isn’t red meat or TMAO, its cigarettes & sedentary obese HFCS PUFA empty calories – the bona fide confounding factors in most anti-nutrition propaganda.

calories proper

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  • George Henderson

    Yup. Excellent data on fat turnover, Bill. It’s probably the membrane fat we should most be interested in.
    Caffiene works to protect the liver by inhibiting adenosine receptors, adenosine is an activator and chemoattractant for hepatic stellate cells; so caffiene actually impedes an immune/repair response, resulting in less scarring (but possibly more short-term loss of cells).
    Caffiene stimulates and coffee antioxidants spare eNOS NO, preserving the hepatic microvascular tone. Good stuff. Might not be so great for your skin, where collagen is more desirable, to drink vast amounts of caffiene though.

    • William Lagakos

      Hi George,

      Thanks for the comment and insights. Coffee (not just caffeine, it works w/ decaf too! PMID: 16801515 [sometimes, eg, PMID: 23193459) contains a whole load of ‘goodies’ – chlorogenic acid(s), MAOi’s, those weird coffee lipids found in Greek/unfiltered coffee, etc., etc. Could be a whole post in itself!

      Best regards,

  • Ash Simmonds
    • William Lagakos

      Hi Ash,
      I’d agree it’s pretty good news all around. And thanks for the link – they do pretty good stuff over at PHD.

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  • George Henderson

    Look what I found Bill – a paper by Sam W. French commenting on an Amin A. Nanji paper. My 2 favourite researchers, they extrapolated the SFA/PUFA alcohol hypothesis from the correlation between pork and cirrhosis, then proved it experimentally in animals. That’s an example of epidemiology being put to proper work.

    • George Henderson

      Also this

      Long term highly saturated fat diet does not induce NASH in Wistar rats
      Absence of hepatic lipid accumulation with high fat (butter 42% or coconut 45%) diets

    • William Lagakos

      Excellent find, George.

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  • Susan

    Great info. My chocolate wine tasting clients will love this news.

  • ktrosper

    Sweet! I’m getting wasted!