Foods to Detox: My Top Six Choices

Six Top Foods to Detox on

Now that the holidays are firmly behind us, I’ve started to notice a bit too much evidence of the holidays, er. . .behind me.  And as the year begins in earnest, I’m right there with everyone looking to eat cleaner and detox all the excesses of the season. It’s only natural to look ahead with sparkly enthusiasm as a way to kick off the new year, no? And what better way than nourishing your body with clean, nutritious food?

First Up: Time for a Blast from the Past. . .

Since I follow a (slightly modified) version of the anti-candida diet (ACD) all year round, my daily menus are already what most people would consider “clean” (even to the point of “extreme”). But even those of us on yeast-free, sugar-free, gluten-free, vegan, whole foods-based diets can benefit from the occasional detox. Why, you may ask? Well, because (a) despite said diet, I am still capable of scarfing down five cookies in one sitting (even though they happen to be made with my own gluten-free flour mix and stevia/coconut sugar); and (b) there are myriad other toxins in our everyday world besides just food (viz., the air we breathe, the electromagnetic fields in our environment, the water we drink, the clothes we wear, the cleaners and personal body-care products we use. . . et cetera).

Consequently, I’ve decided to start off the year with a bit of a flashback to 2009: I’ve vowed to revisit Stage One of the ACD. This means no sweeteners except stevia, and no sweet fruits for a while; in addition, I’ll be ditching all those flour-based products I’ve come to enjoy again over the past 2-3 years.

Are you about to start an anti-candida diet, too, or just interested in eating clean? Join the Candida Kick-Start and learn everything you need to start–and finish–strong against candida.

I mentioned it briefly in this post, but for those of you who may have missed it: I’m working on a new book! I’m terribly excited about this one, as it focuses on candida, as both a cookbook and guidebook for anyone on the diet or looking to reduce their overall sugar intake. It will contain the full gamut of recipes from appetizer to dessert, sweet AND savory. As you may know, this is a topic about which I’m fiercely passionate, and I am beyond thrilled to be able to help others who are dealing with this condition. [UPDATE, 2016: The book is done! You can learn more and get the book here.]

And now . . . . on to the food! These are my six favorite foods for detoxing. Obviously, they’re not the ONLY detox foods, but these are my go-to ingredients when I want something to cleanse while also providing super nutrition. They’re the foods that I’ll be increasing in my diet over the next few weeks.

Oh, and be sure to check back for the next post, when I share a humongous roundup of 45+ detox recipes–many using these very ingredients!

1. Beets

Candida Diet, detox beet and mint salad on

[Beet the Heat and Mint Salad]

My love of beets is no secret! These garnet gems are filled with an array of B- and other vitamins, important minerals like iron, magnesium and zinc, and heart-healthy fiber. But beets are also a superstar when it comes to detoxification, providing plant compounds called betalains that help to support your liver as it runs through its detox phases. The high fiber content, besides helping to sweep away toxins, also contributes to bowel regularity, essential during any detox so that toxins don’t remain in the digestive tract where they can be re-absorbed into the body.

2. Dandelion Greens (and all greens)

Candida diet, gluten-free, vegan dandelion potato salad on

[Warm Dandelion Potato Salad]

Dark leafy greens are commonly cited as the most health-promoting of all vegetables, and while I’ve always loved them, ever since my osteopenia diagnosis a few years ago, I’ve tried to incorporate at least two servings of dark leafies each day.

But of all the greens, when it comes to detoxification, I think dandelion tops the list. Not only do they offer the usual detoxing properties courtesy of cholorophyll (what makes green veggies green, and helps to flush toxins through the liver), they also add further stimulation to the process because they’re slightly bitter, which prompts bile production to aid in the cleansing. In other words, dandelion supports the liver in two ways. They’re also rich in vitamins, minerals, and fiber, and brimming with antioxidants that can prevent cancer. And, as I mentioned, they’re a great food to eat to help rebuild bone density.

3. Lemons

Vegan, gluten-free, sugar-free raw lemon poppyseed squares on

[Raw Lemon Poppyseed Squares from Naturally Sweet & Gluten-Free. Photo credit: Celine Saki.]

The humble lemon is likely already present in your refrigerator or on your kitchen counter. Who knew it was also such a potent detoxifier? Lemons are commonly prescribed by alternative practitioners to help improve digestion (important to any detox regimen) by stimulating stomach acids that work to break down food. In addition, lemons act as a gentle liver stimulant and support, promoting the release of enzymes that can convert toxins to a water-soluble form so that they can be removed from the body.

4. Garlic

Vegan, candida diet, gluten-free roasted garlic pumpkinseed pesto recipe on

[Roasted Garlic and Pumpkinseed Pesto]

Garlic is just so, well, impressive, isn’t it? I mean, it not only tastes delicious, but it’s one of those few foods that can be used on its own as a medicine. In fact, garlic, a natural antibiotic, was used before the man-made prescription antibiotics made their appearance around 1935 , and it looks like it’s once again being studied for that purpose as we approach a world in which antibiotics are no longer viable to fight certain bacterial infections.

Because of its antimicrobial (anti-viral, anti-germ, antibacterial, anti-fungal) properties, garlic is a perfect detox food. It combats all these unhealthy organisms while supporting the body via allicins, compounds that help keep the bloodstream and heart working optimally. Because it also fights parasites, it clears the digestive tract and improves elimination.  Fresh garlic is best, but cooked is good, too; apparently, letting it sit out after chopping it enhances its health-promoting properties.

5. Seaweed:
anti-candida, spicy nori-sunflower seed cracker recipe on
I know, seaweed may not be on your “must eat” list of foods. Before I went to nutrition school, I never knew there were other kinds of seaweed besides nori sheets, the little square wrappers around sushi.  Nowadays, I try to enjoy different kinds of seaweeds in different foods.

According to this article, recent studies at McGill University (hi there, city of my birth!) demonstrated how seaweeds can bind to radioactive waste in the body, helping to remove it.  And don’t think that only denizens of Hiroshima need to eat it for that reason: radioactive contamination occurs everywhere, either through water, soil, or even some medical imaging (which is why I try to detox after every X-ray or other medical scan). Seaweeds are also known to bind to heavy metals in a similar way, aiding in their detoxification.

6. Cilantro:


Candida diet, gluten-free, vegan glazed tofu cutlet on
This used-to-hate-it-now-I-love-it herb is one of the best for detoxification. Cilantro is also known as a chelator for heavy metals, binding to them and helping to flush them out of the body via elimination. Its deep green hue announces the cholorphyll it contains, another potent detoxifier.


Bonus: Wheat Grass!

vegan, gluten-free wheatgrass juice on

[How I consume my wheatgrass: either freshly juiced, or juiced, frozen, and later defrosted, as here.]
Since most people don’t consider wheat grass a distinct “food” that can be added to regular meals or recipes, I’m including it as a bonus detoxifier. I’ve only been drinking wheatgrass juice for a few years, but it’s such a powerfully cleansing substance that I wanted to add it here. If you can find fresh wheatgrass juice (or juice your own), you’ll reap amazing benefits from this highly regarded practice among alternative healthcare practitioners. At the very least, wheatgrass offers an array of vitamins and minerals, a hefty dose of cholorphyll, and an alkaline boost to your day. When I consume it regularly, I notice a fairly strong shift in my clarity of thought, and a decrease in candida symptoms (particularly sweets cravings).
And. . . there you have it! I’ll be trying to incorporate more of these foods into my diet as I revisit Stage One of the anti-candida diet. Are you ready to join me? Let’s eat better and see how it affects mood, digestion, and overall feelings of well-being.
If you need more foods to help support a detox this month, check out the mega-roundup of over 45 detox recipes!

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  1. Congrats on the book. I will definitely be buying that! Hubby and I
    are revisiting Stage 1 beginning of Feb and I am excited
    For your ACD POSTS!

    • Thanks, Lisa! Congrats on taking the leap (or the leap back?). I’ll be posting more about the group program later today–hope you’ll check it out! And of course there are loads of Stage 1 recipes right here on the blog. 🙂

  2. good luck with your detox and you know I am excited about your book – love the list of foods is mostly everyday foods – was nodding away until you mentioned cilantro – I try to like it occasionally but mostly avoid it – and that is really interesting about the seaweed

    • Thanks, Johanna! And thanks for the good wishes on the book, too. 🙂 So funny about cilantro–I know you’re not crazy about it. Keep trying–maybe you’ll have a change of heart like I did? 😉

  3. Congrats on the new book, Ricki! 🙂 We can never get enough of your books and I love that you’ll get to delve more into ACD in this next one.

    Great info on detox “agents.” I remember being so surprised when I learned about cilantro a few years back. I did get a chuckle thinking about how much cilantro is consumed at the same time as margaritas and cerveza. Maybe the Mexicans have learned “how to have their cake and eat it, too,” so to speak. 😉 Your listing, with all the greens, also reminds me that one blogger friend drinks parsley tea (boiling water and chopped fresh parsley) to detox/relieve bloat, etc.

    I would caution all the folks who are 100% gluten free to be really careful with wheat grass. Dr. Vicki Petersen of HealthNOW Medical Clinic talks about the concerns in a video via this link: The bottom line is that not all wheat grass is gluten free.

    Thanks, Ricki!

    • Thanks so much, Shirley, and thanks for the wheatgrass info. I remember you saying that earlier, too. I don’t have problems with it, but I certainly don’t want anyone who has to be GF drinking it if it might cause a problem! And you know, I might just have to try that parsley tea. . . !! 😀

  4. Yay Ricki! I’m so excited for your next book, how amazing! So soon after Naturally Sweet and Gluten-Free! You rock. I love your detox foods, most of which I eat regularly. Except dandelion greens and wheatgrass! Best wishes for your new book!

  5. Thanks, Maggie! I know, crazy, isn’t it?! I hope you try dandelion again–I was afraid I wouldn’t like the bitterness, but now I love it. And I actually love the taste of fresh wheatgrass juice (not so fond of the dehydrated powder, though). 😉

  6. I am so excited to see a cookbook from you that includes savory!!
    Admittedly, I don’t eat many of these foods, guess it’s time to get a little more adventurous 🙂

    • Ha ha!! Thanks, Alisa! It’s funny because there are more savory than sweet recipes on this blog (or at least the same amount!) but I guess it’s obvious that sweet is my preference. 😉

  7. This post is so great and helpful . I don’t know much about detox or candida but my mom told me I should do a more detox diet (by diet, I don’t mean weightloss diet I mean eating food diet) and incorporate some anti-candida foods. I crave sweets too much.

    • Thanks, Kammie! My understanding (and I’m not a doctor or medical expert, so this is just my own opinion) is that the most gentle detox you can do is to eat real, whole foods (ideally organic), mostly fruits and vegetables, without too many sweet fruits. But I’ll let Elson Haas tell you more, since he’s the king of detox:

  8. You already know how excited I am about your new book. I didn’t realize you had just 2 months to get it done though! I guess you really will be hiding away in your office.
    Thanks for the detox foods info- I use herbs so much now, more for flavour than anything else, but it’s nice to be reminded that they’re full of good stuff too. I’d like to incorporate seaweed into my meals on a more regular basis as well.
    It’s so easy to slip into eating too much sweet stuff isn’t it? I say I’ll have 1 pc of carob and then I have 3!

  9. Lemons, greens, cilantro yum!

    Definitely a big part of my diet for a healthy happy gut and healing from chronic digestive issues.

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