Detox is a natural, ongoing process of neutralizing and eliminating dietary and environmental toxins from the body. Certain foods can support, or even speed the process, by providing vitamins, antioxidants, minerals, essential fatty acids, fiber, and other needed nutrients.
So grab a pen and make a shopping list. Here's what you need. One caveat: please buy organic. Conventional versions of these foods often contain glyphosate (a harmful pesticide)! The health impacts of glyphosate are insane, and not worth the risk.
Almonds are actually a fruit because they're the seeds of a fruit that is a close relative to the plum and peach. They're a detox essential because most detox diets don't include cow's milk, and almond milk is one of the best-tasting, most readily available plant-based alternatives. Almond milk can be made at home, or you can find it at many grocery stores and health food stores. this is my favorite homemade almond milk process.
Apples are high in insoluble fiber and the soluble fiber pectin, which soaks up toxins and waste and sweeps them through the intestines. They are low-glycemic, which means that they are absorbed slowly with a gradual rise in blood sugar and insulin. Apples contain glucaric acid, which helps the body get rid of estrogen-like chemicals and heavy metals. Apples are also high in quercetin, which is a plant polyphenol that supports zinc getting inside the cells to promote the body's innate resistance to pathogens.
A culinary staple in Mediterranean cooking, arugula is a type of cruciferous vegetable (like broccoli, kale, and watercress) that contains a number of compounds that aid in detoxification, such as sulforaphane and indole-3-carbinol. Arugula is also packed with vitamins and minerals such as vitamin K, vitamin C, magnesium, folate, and the phytochemicals lutein and zeaxanthin, which may protect against age-related macular degeneration and cataracts.
During the low-fat diet craze of the 1980s and 90s , avocados became an off-limits food because of their fat content. While they do contain a fair amount of fat, they are high in heart-healthy monounsaturated fat which won’t interfere with the balance of omega-3 to -6 fatty acids in the diet.
Packed with potassium, folate, fiber, and antioxidants, beets are a star detox food. Beets also contain betaine, a compound that has been found to lower the levels of several inflammatory markers, protect against liver damage, and help the liver process fats. It also contains the beautiful reddish-purple antioxidant pigment betacyanin, which is responsible for a host of health benefits and may provide anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and detoxification support (notably supporting glutathione-dependent phase 2 detoxification). Beets are low in calories – 1/2 cup of beets contains 40 calories.
A true detox superfood, blueberries are packed with fiber and vitamin C, are low in calories (1/2 cup has 44 calories), and are one consistently ranked at the top when it comes to antioxidant capacity.
Blueberries get their blue color from antioxidant pigments called anthocyanins, which help protect cells from free radical damage, enhance glutathione production, and guard against heart disease, cataracts, glaucoma, peptic ulcers, Alzheimer’s disease, allergies, diabetes, and certain cancers. Anthocyanins may also slow aging by reducing the breakdown of collagen and strengthening blood vessels and capillaries.
One of the more affordable detox foods, cabbage has cleansing properties due to its high content of glucosinolates, sulfur-containing compounds that are converted into active forms isothiocyanates and indoles. Isothiocyanates may prevent cancer by promoting the elimination of potential carcinogens from the body. It is also high in vitamin K and C and ½ cup has only 11 calories.
Don’t let its lack of color fool you. Cauliflower makes our list of top detox foods because it is a cruciferous vegetable (a family that includes broccoli, cabbage, and bok choy) that is high in phytochemicals called glucosinolates. These chemicals are broken down in the intestines to isothiocynates and indole-3-carbinol, compounds that regulate the body’s detoxification enzymes and protect against cancer.
Fennel, a root vegetable with a licorice flavor, is low in calories and is a good source of folate, potassium, and antioxidants such as anethole, a phytochemical which has been found to reduce inflammation. It is also mildly diuretic, which may help with the removal of toxic substances from the body Half a cup of raw fennel has only 14 calories.
Flaxseeds contain alpha-linolenic acid, a heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acid that appears to improve how the body uses insulin, the hormone that clears sugar from the bloodstream. They also have soluble and insoluble fiber, which helps the body’s detoxification by promoting bowel regularity and helping the body to eliminate excess toxins, cholesterol and waste. Flaxseeds are also an excellent source of manganese.
A detox favorite, garlic contains sulfur-containing compounds that may fight harmful bacteria and yeast in the intestines and boost the body’s ability to detox by increasing the production of glutathione, needed for the elimination of certain toxins. The sulfur compounds, called allicin, are broken down in the body to allyl sulfides, which may guard against heart disease, certain types of cancer, arthritis, and diabetes.
No list of detox foods would be complete without ginger. A natural anti-inflammatory food, ginger also helps to ease nausea, support digestion, and promote detoxification by speeding the movement of food through the intestines, thanks to compounds called gingerols and shogaols. I love this ginger citrus tea.
Why Green Tea?
If you are trying to cut back on your coffee intake, green tea is a good substitute. It has some caffeine (about 15 to 40 mg per cup), but also contains epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG). A potent antioxidant, EGCG may protect the liver against damage from toxins, prevent the oxidation of LDL cholesterol, and may help prevent heart disease and certain cancers.
One of the most potent detox foods around, lemons are packed with vitamin C and are thought to help restore the alkaline-acid balance of the body, enabling us to more effectively remove dietary and environmental toxins.
Known primarily as a culinary herb, parsley contains vitamin C, chlorophyll, beta-carotene, vitamin K, and folate, which are all needed by the body for detox. Parsley also raises glutathione levels and may guard against liver dysfunction due to insulin resistance.
Give yourself a serious antioxidant boost! Pomegranates are loaded with anthocyanins, a type of antioxidant that gives the seeds their deep, red color. It’s possible that anthocyanins may protect against DNA damage and support normal, healthy inflammatory levels, heart health, seasonal allergies, and support healthy blood sugar levels. Preliminary research indicates they may also help to slow skin aging by reducing the weakening of skin’s collagen and elastin fibers. Pomegranate is also great for increasing Akkermansia, a type of beneficial gut bacteria that is critical for overall health.
Sauerkraut supports the body's ability to remove stored up toxins mainly because of its high content of indole-3-carbinol, which is found in cruciferous vegetables such as cabbage, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, and broccoli. However, when you cook these vegetables, indole-3-carbinol degrades, along with vitamins. So that is where sauerkraut comes in to save the day and your detox! When fermented, vital nutrients are retained AND the formation of lactobacilli strains (probiotics) supports digestion, so it helps you to absorb more of the indole-3-carbinol as well as vitamins and minerals.
A dietary staple in many Asian countries, seaweeds-such as dulse, kelp, nori, wakame, and agar- are becoming popular with good reason. They are packed with minerals such as iodine, which aids in the production of thyroid hormone and regulates our metabolism, calcium, magnesium, and potassium. The high mineral content can help to flush toxins from the body. Certain seaweeds, such as arame and hiziki have plenty of soluble fiber, which also promotes detoxification.
A popular ingredient at juice bars, wheatgrass is thought to have potent detoxifying abilities, being packed with chlorophyll, amino acids, vitamins, minerals, and enzymes.