19 Essential Cleansing Foods to Try

Our bodies neutralize and eliminate dietary and environmental, and bodily toxins every day. Certain foods can support this process by providing vitamins, antioxidants, minerals, essential fatty acids, fiber, and other needed nutrients. If you're interested in improving your diet, give these superfoods a try.

1

Pomegranate

Pomegranate

Verywell /?Alexandra Shytsman

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 inflammation and reduce the risk of heart disease, cancer, and diabetes. Anthocyanins also help with visual health and prevent weight gain.

Preliminary research indicates that they may also help to slow skin aging by reducing the weakening of skin’s collagen and elastin fibers and preventing dark spots.

Healthy Ways to Enjoy It

The jewel-toned, sweet-tart seeds can be added to a salad or sprinkled on top of breakfast cereal. You can also have them as a snack. If you can’t get a hold of the seeds, try adding a splash of unsweetened pomegranate juice to water to liven up the taste and help you increase your fluid intake.

Or try a low-carb pomegranate salad or an herbed farro salad with pomegranate and feta. Just be sure not to overdo it — large amounts of pomegranate juice have the potential to interact with many medications.

2

Arugula

Arugula in a bowl

Verywell /?Alexandra Shytsman

A culinary staple in Mediterranean cooking, arugula is a type of cruciferous vegetable (like broccoli, kale, and watercress) that contain a number of compounds that aid with antioxidants such as sulforaphane and indole-3-carbinol.??

Arugula is also packed with vitamins and minerals such as vitamin K, vitamin C, magnesium and folate and the phytochemicals lutein and zeaxanthin, which may protect against age-related macular degeneration and cataracts.??

Healthy Ways to Enjoy It

Use arugula in a salad. Another way to use arugula is in pesto as a substitute for basil. If it's peppery flavor is too strong, try baby arugula, which has a milder taste. Consider making black bean-arugula tostadas or grilled peach avocado and arugula flatbread.

3

Garlic

Garlic

Verywell /?Alexandra Shytsman

Another antioxidant favorite, garlic contains sulfur-containing compounds that may fight harmful bacteria and yeast in the intestines.??? 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.

Healthy Ways to Enjoy It

Garlic must be crushed or chopped in order to release the beneficial sulfur compounds. Try adding it to salad dressing or make a white bean or chickpea dip with white beans (or chickpeas), olive oil and lemon juice. Or make an Asian chopped salad or a lemon-garlic herb salad dressing.

4

Seaweed

Seaweed

Verywell /?Alexandra Shytsman

A dietary staple in many Asian countries, seaweeds-such as dulse, kelp, nori, wakame, and agar — are becoming popular for a good reason. They are packed with minerals such as iodine, which aids in the production of thyroid hormone. Certain seaweeds, such as arame and hijiki have plenty of soluble fiber which also promotes intestinal movement of toxins and heavy metals that are then excreted through the feces.

Healthy Ways to Enjoy It

Kelp noodles have become popular because they are gluten-free with almost no calories. Chopped dulse is good in salads and can also be added to sandwiches or rice or quinoa bowls. Nori can be cut into thin strips or crumbled on salads, rice, or soups. Try adding wakame, the seaweed used in miso soup, to soups.

Another way to enjoy seaweed: arame, a mild-tasting seaweed, can be soaked, rinsed, drained and used raw. Try adding it to salads. Also look for seasonings made with dried, flaked seaweed such as kelp to use as a substitute for table salt or flavor enhancer. Or try a recipe such as Japanese onigiri rice triangles.

5

Lemons

Lemons

Verywell /?Alexandra Shytsman

One of the most popular antioxidant and versatile foods around, lemons are packed with vitamin C, which protects the body's cells from being damaged.??A small fruit (58 g) contains 34% of your vitamin c needs based on the daily value set by the FDA.??

Healthy Ways to Enjoy It

Add the juice of a quarter of a lemon to a glass of water. Also, try using lemon juice instead of vinegar in a salad dressing. Keep some lemon wedges handy to squeeze into water or on top of steamed vegetables or meals to up flavor. You can also try making a gluten-free lower-carb lemon bar recipe.

6

Apples

apple

Verywell / Alexandra Shytsman

Apples are high in insoluble fiber and the soluble fiber pectin, which binds to toxins and metals which are then swept through the intestines. They are low-glycemic, which means that they are absorbed slowly with a gradual rise in blood sugar and insulin.??

Healthy Ways to Enjoy It

Besides eating a whole apple, make a snack of apple slices with almond butter or have unsweetened applesauce instead of dessert. Make muesli with oats, apples, berries, almonds, and flaxseeds and soak overnight or add apples and cinnamon to oatmeal. Add sliced apples to a salad or try a recipe such as a healthy apple crisp or a baked apple with olive oil crumble.

7

Cabbage

Cabbage

Verywell /?Alexandra Shytsman

One of the more affordable antioxidant foods, cabbage has glucosinolates, sulfur-containing compounds that are converted into active forms isothiocyanates and indoles. These compounds may decrease some cancer risks such as lung, breast, kidney, and more. It is also high in vitamin K and vitamin C and ? cup have only 11 calories.???

Isothiocyanates, a molecule found in cruciferous vegetables like cabbage, may prevent cancer by promoting the elimination of potential carcinogens from the body.

Healthy Ways to Enjoy It

The enzyme that converts glucosinolates into its active compounds is destroyed by heat, so try having cabbage raw in salads or eat it lightly cooked (blanched). But even if you do cook this vegetable all the way, it still has nutritional value. Two fermented foods that are made with cabbage (which have the added benefit of probiotic bacteria) are sauerkraut and kim chi. Try cabbage in sweet potato and red cabbage slaw or in a creamy coleslaw.

8

Quinoa

Quinoa

Verywell /?Alexandra Shytsman

Quinoa has been cultivated in South America for over 5000 years.

Wheat-free and gluten-free, quinoa is a popular antioxidant food and technically the seed of a plant (related to beets and spinach) rather than a whole grain.

A protein powerhouse, one-half cup of cooked quinoa has 3 grams of protein.?? Quinoa has 50 percent more protein than grains and contains all nine essential amino acids, making it a complete protein similar to meat and other animal foods and a great food for people who follow a vegetarian or vegan diet.

Quinoa is also low on the glycemic index, meaning that it causes a gradual rise in blood sugar and insulin, and it is high in the amino acid lysine, which is involved in tissue repair.

Healthy Ways to Enjoy It

Try steamed quinoa instead of wheat or gluten-containing starchy foods, make a warm breakfast cereal with quinoa and almond milk, add quinoa to a salad, or use quinoa as an alternative to couscous in recipes. Consider making a vegetarian southwest quinoa salad or a quinoa tabouli salad.

9

Wheatgrass

wheatgrass juice
AWEvans/E+/Getty Images

A popular ingredient at juice bars, wheatgrass is thought to have potent antioxidant abilities.??

Chlorophyll, amino acids, vitamins, minerals, and enzymes contribute to the antioxidant properties of wheatgrass.

Healthy Ways to Enjoy It

Wheatgrass is usually juiced, because of the tough cell walls that make the nutrients difficult to extract. You can find wheatgrass shots at many juice bars. You can also grow and juice wheatgrass at home, depending on the type of juicer you have.

10

Almonds

almonds

Verywell / Alexandra Shytsman

Almonds are actually a fruit because they're the seeds of a fruit that is a close relative to the plum and peach. Almond milk can be an alternative to cow's milk. Almond milk can be made at home, or you can find it at many grocery stores and health food stores.

Almonds are also fantastic because they have a high vitamin E content (one ounce has 35% of the daily recommended intake), fiber (one ounce has 3 grams), vegetable protein (one ounce has 6 grams), and monounsaturated fats (almonds are 51% monounsaturated fat). They're also rich in magnesium, phosphorus, calcium, iron, folate, and phytochemicals, all of which may help prevent chronic diseases.???

Healthy Ways to Enjoy It

Some suggested ways to eat more raw almonds: try adding them to a smoothie, sprinkling chopped almonds onto cereal, adding chopped almonds on top of salads or vegetable dishes, using them in pesto instead of pine nuts, or substituting almond butter for peanut butter. Almond recipes include gluten-free pancakes (made with almond flour) or gluten-free muffins.

A handful of almonds also makes a great snack with a piece of fruit or in homemade trail mix.

11

Avocados

Avocado

Verywell /?Alexandra Shytsman

During the low-fat diet craze of the 1980s and 90s, avocados became an off-limits food because of their fat content.

While avocados 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.

Fat is essential to absorb fat soluble vitamins, cell structure in the body, and to protect the organs. Fat also promotes the release of bile from the gallbladder, allowing for the elimination of toxins, drugs, bilirubin (breakdown of red blood cells), and cholesterol from the body.

It also promotes the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins including vitamin A, vitamin D, vitamin E?, and vitamin K.??? Besides providing a desirable fat, avocados also contain vitamin E, folate, vitamin B5, and potassium. One half-cup of avocado has a whopping 8 grams of dietary fiber.

Healthy Ways to Enjoy It

Another reason avocado is prized as an antioxidant food is its natural rich and buttery texture. It adds creaminess to smoothies. Avocado can also be added to salads or made into a dip. Try recipes including a 5-minute avocado and egg toast or a light avocado chicken salad.

12

Blueberries

Blueberries

Verywell /?Alexandra Shytsman

A true antioxidant superfood, blueberries are packed with fiber and has a little vitamin C. They are low in calories (1/2 cup has 45 calories) and are 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. Their intake is associated with improved weight maintenance, neuroprotection and a reduced risk for cardiovascular disease, death, and type 2 diabetes.??

Healthy Ways to Enjoy It

Blueberries are tasty, so it is easy to up your intake. Try adding a handful to your cereal, salad or smoothie. In green smoothies, the dark blue pigment is very good at masking the color of green vegetables. Or simply have them alone as a delicious way to end your dinner. Delicious blueberry recipes include a no-sugar added blueberry crunch yogurt bowl or whole grain wild blueberry muffins.

13

Ginger

Ginger

Verywell /?Alexandra Shytsman

No list of antioxidant foods would be complete without ginger.??

A natural anti-inflammatory food, ginger also helps to ease nausea thanks to compounds called gingerols and shogaols.

Healthy Ways to Enjoy It

Try making a pureed carrot ginger soup, adding freshly grated ginger to salad dressing, or juicing fresh ginger root along with vegetables. Ginger recipes include crystallized ginger or homemade ginger ale.

14

Cauliflower

Cauliflower

Verywell /?Alexandra Shytsman

Don’t let its lack of color fool you.

Cauliflower makes our list of top antioxidant 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 which protect against cancer.

Healthy Ways to Enjoy It

Unlike other cruciferous vegetables, cauliflower can stand in for starchy foods. Chopped finely in a food processor then steamed, cauliflower can mimic the texture of rice. It can also be mashed as an alternative to mashed potatoes. While it lacks color, cauliflower is actually a good source of vitamin C, as well as fiber. Try cheesy cauliflower cakes or learn to make cauliflower rice.

15

Parsley

parsley chopped on a kitchen towel

Verywell / Alexandra Shytsman

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 cell death.

Healthy Ways to Enjoy It

Try chopping parsley and adding it to a salad or using it alongside or instead of basil in pesto. Parsley can also be added to juices or smoothies. Recipes that use parsley include spinach spaghetti aglio e olio or Italian tuna and beans.

16

Beets

Beets

Verywell /?Alexandra Shytsman

Packed with potassium, folate, fiber, and antioxidants, beets are a star antioxidant superfood.

Beets also contain betaine, a compound that has been found to lower the levels of several inflammatory markers and protect against liver damage.

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.??

Healthy Ways to Enjoy It

Try adding raw grated beets to a salad or try thinly sliced raw beets in a sandwich. Beets can also be juiced or added to smoothies. Beet juice pairs well with juiced apples and ginger. Beet greens are rich in vitamin K, magnesium, potassium, iron, and the antioxidant lutein.??

Although beets can be messy, using gloves can protect against red-stained hands and used waxed paper over permeable countertops or cutting boards. Beets are also fantastic in borscht soup. Be aware that beets may temporarily result in red-tinged stools or urine.???Beet recipes include roasted red beet hummus and roasted beet and feta salad.

17

Green Tea

Green tea

Verywell / Alexandra Shytsman

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, the EGCG in green tea may protect the liver against damage from toxins, prevent the oxidation of ?LDL cholesterol, and may help prevent heart disease and certain cancers.

18

Fennel

Fennel

Verywell /?Alexandra Shytsman

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. A one-half cup serving has about 14 calories.??

Fennel seeds are mildly diuretic, which may help with urine output.

Healthy Ways to Enjoy It

Fennel bulb can be sliced thinly and added to salads or it can be juiced, along with apples, celery, carrots, and pears. Try a fennel recipe such as roasted tomato and fennel soup or chicken with turmeric and fennel.

Fennel seeds have long been used as a remedy for bloating, flatulence, and constipation. Try fennel seed tea, or chew on some fennel seeds for fresh breath or to ease digestion.??

19

Flaxseeds

Flaxseed

Verywell / Alexandra Shytsman

Flaxseeds contain alpha-linolenic acid, a heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acid that appears to to reduce the risk for high cholesterol, heart disease, high blood pressure, cancer, and diabetes.??

Flaxseeds have soluble and insoluble fiber, which helps the body by promoting bowel regularity and helping the body to eliminate excess toxins, cholesterol, waste, and heavy metals.

Flaxseeds are also a good source of manganese.??

Healthy Ways to Enjoy It

You can buy ground flaxseeds in many grocery stores and health food stores, but for maximum freshness, you can also grind them yourself in a coffee grinder. It’s ideal to grind the seeds as you need them, as grinding them shortens their shelf life.

Sprinkle them on cereal, salads, yogurt, and other dishes or add them whole to the blender when making smoothies. Flaxseeds can also be used in baked goods. The seeds form a gel when combined with water, so they can be used to thicken soups or can be used as an egg replacement in some baked goods. Try gluten-free apple walnut flaxseed muffins or low-carb flax meal breakfast pudding.

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Article Sources
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