Detox Food
Helps You Be Healthy

Detox Food: Top 10

man cleaning dishes

There's no escaping the fact we live in a food world filled with toxins:

  • chemicals
  • pesticides
  • additives
  • preservatives
  • antibiotic residues
  • hormone residues
  • heavy metals
  • carcinogens

While this is concerning, the good news is that our bodies are designed to resist damage from toxins. We have built in detox systems: skin, sweat, sneezing and elimination are all ways the body rids itself of pollutants. The detox "powerhouse" of the body, however, is the liver.

While the body certainly has the natural ability to detox, it can only handle so much! We're exposed to more chemicals today than ever before. If the body is overloaded with toxins, it may need a little extra help getting rid of them.

This can be (and should be) accomplished using a 2-pronged approach:

  1. Decrease the load of toxins the liver must transform in the first place by eating low on the food chain and informing yourself of where toxic chemicals may be hiding in food.)
  2. Enhance your liver's ability to rid the body of toxins.

Certain foods contain nutrition that enhances the liver's ability to clear toxins from the body...

...I call these detox foods and encourage you to include them regularly as part of your healthy eating habit.

Detox Food: Top 10

  • Garlic and Onions
  • Cruciferous Vegetables (broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, cabbage)
  • Whole Grains
  • Turmeric
  • Berries
  • Green Tea
  • Yogurt
  • Legumes (beans), nuts and seeds
  • Soy
  • Red Grapes

Incorporating Detox Food Into Your Regular Diet

Garlic and Onions

  • Roast a bulb or two of garlic every week and keep it in the refigerator to eat straight up or add to your cooking. Mash and spread on bread or add to pasta sauce. How to roast garlic.
  • Purée fresh garlic, canned garbanzo beans (a good detox food), tahini, olive oil and lemon juice to make quick and easy hummus dip.
  • Sauté steamed spinach, garlic, and fresh lemon juice.
  • My favorite detox food is (red) onions. I prepare a bunch in advance to have on hand for the week. Try this: slice and sauté in nonstick cooking spray over low to medium heat until the onions caramelize. Yummy in omelettes, salads and on sandwiches or add to most any vegetable dish.
  • For a quick Mediterranean salad, combine chopped raw onions, tomatoes, cucumber and toasted whole wheat pita bread. Drizzle with lemon juice and olive oil.
  • A classic Italian salad: sliced onions, tomatoes and (organic) mozzarella cheese drizzled with olive oil.

Cruciferous Vegetables

Includes broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, kale, collards, kohlrabi, bok choy, watercress.

  • Sauté cauliflower or broccoli with garlic, minced ginger and low sodium soy sauce.
  • Snack on cauliflower or broccoli florets dipped in salsa.
  • Roast Brussels spouts...yummy! Another of my favorite detox foods. I never liked Brussels sprouts until I tasted them roasted.
  • Sauté kale with fresh garlic and sprinkle with lemon juice and olive oil.
  • Combine chopped kale, pine nuts and goat cheese with whole grain pasta drizzled with olive oil.
  • Add steamed kale as a topping on homemade pizza.
  • Drizzle cooked collard greens with olive oil and lemon juice.
  • Steam collard greens and serve with black-eyed peas and brown rice (another good detox food).

Whole Grains

  • Have old fashioned oatmeal for breakfast.
  • Heat up brown rice with milk or soymilk. Add cinnamon, nutmeg, raisins and honey for a quick rice pudding.
  • Look for brown rice sushi rolls.
  • Serve brown rice and beans (also a detox food) rolled up in a whole wheat tortilla with salsa.
  • Use sprouted wheat berries in vegetable and grain salads.
  • Toss chilled cooked hulled barley with chopped vegetables, olive oil and lemon juice to make a quick cold salad.
  • Combine cooked barley with sautéed mushrooms for an easy pilaf.


Turmeric is an ancient spice, native to Southeast Asia. It has a peppery, warm and bitter flavor and a mild fragrance slightly reminiscent of orange and ginger. It's best known as one of the ingredients used to make curry.

  • Add turmeric to egg white salad to give it a bold yellow one will ever know the yolks are missing.
  • Mix brown rice (a good whole grain) with raisins or cranberries and cashews or pecans (nuts are also top detox foods), seasoned with turmeric and cumin. That's 3 detox foods in one meal!
  • Turmeric is also delicious sprinkled on sautéed apples, steamed cauliflower (good detox), steamed green beans, or sauteed onions (more good detox).
  • For a low-calorie dip, mix turmeric and dried onion with a little plain nonfat yogurt, salt and pepper. Serve with raw cauliflower or broccoli.
  • Turmeric is a great spice to complement recipes that feature lentils, which are a good detox food themselves.


Strawberries, blueberries, raspberries and blackberries. Eat them straight up, add them to oatmeal, or blend them in fruit smoothies.

Green Tea

If you're like most people (including me) you don't love the taste of green tea straight. If that's the case...

...good news. You can still incorporate green tea in your diet. Replace water in cooking with green tea whenever you can....particularly in foods that absorb water, like rice, soup, get the idea!


  • Here's one of my favorite meals (but don't hold it against me!). Mix canned sardines (high omega-3) with plain yogurt and sauteed onion. Really, it's great!
  • Toss cubes of cooked eggplant with plain nonfat Greek yogurt (Fage or Trader Joe's are good brands), chopped mint leaves, garlic (detox food) and cayenne.
  • Add chopped cucumber and dill to plain yogurt and use as a dip for raw vegetables, or serve it atop grilled (organic) chicken.
  • Yogurt parfaits: Layer yogurt, berries and lowfat granola in a parfait glass.

Legumes, nuts and seeds

Beans, peas, lentils, peanuts, nuts and seeds.

The nuts and seeds are pretty easy to work in...

...sprinkle walnuts, pecans, pumpkin seeds or sunflower seeds on salad or yogurt or snack on them straight up (in small portions).

Combine cooked lentils and cooked chopped sweet peppers to make a delicious cold salad. Season with your favorite herbs and spices.

Toss whole wheat pasta with cooked beans or lentils and broccoli florets (detox food). Top with olive oil and garlic.

Make a bean burrito with canned (rinsed and drained) black beans, salsa, and (organic) cheese wrapped in a whole wheat tortilla.


Eat Food...Not Chemicals!

Looking for other ways
to lighten your toxic load?

Avoid mercury in fish
Consider organics when possible
Use this organic produce priority list
Improve Omega 3/Omega 6 ratio
Steer clear of food additives
Limit processed foods
Drink clean water
Know where toxins hide
Don't let label claims mislead you
Top 10 detox foods
Be scared of Frankenfoods!

  • Snack on edamame.
  • Add soybeans to vegetable stews and soups.
  • Use unsweetened soymilk in place of cow's milk as a beverage, on cereal, and in smoothies.
  • Scramble tofu together with your favorite vegetables and turmeric (remember: a good detox food) to give it a yellow "egg-like" coloring. Serve as is with toast on the side or wrap up in a whole wheat tortilla with beans and salsa.

Red Grapes

  • Freeze them...they're extra yummy to snack on that way!
  • Slice grapes and add to chicken salad or (canned light) tuna salad.
  • Toss grapes in with salad greens and pecans (nuts are detox foods too).

With so many good ways to eat the top detox foods, there's hardly room for anything else! Enjoy!

Read more about the toxins that make detox food necessary.

More on healthy eating.

Back to Personal Nutrition Guide Home.