15 Detox Foods That Work Even Better Than Apple Cider Vinegar

Updated: Oct. 03, 2023

Move over, apple cider vinegar. These tasty foods can help support your immune, digestive and lymphatic systems to naturally detox your body.

Glass of water
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Wind down with this calming drink before bed

Magnesium, especially when combined with zinc, is the perfect one-two detox combo, according to Carolyn Dean, MD, ND, a naturopath, doctor, author, and medical advisory board member for the Nutritional Magnesium Association. “Magnesium stimulates cell activity so that toxins are released into the bloodstream while zinc acts as a strong antioxidant which helps destroy ‘free radicals’ in the body and at the same time removing heavy metals,” she explains. You can find magnesium in spinach, almonds and dark chocolate but if you’re looking to get a larger dose without eating cups of greens, try dissolving magnesium citrate in water. Bonus: Magnesium’s science-backed benefits include calming and relaxation properties.

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Nuts manchurian (Juglans mandshurica).It is distributed in Northern China, Manchuria, Korea, in the Russia.
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Add this nut to your next salad

Nuts provide not only provide a tasty crunch to boring greens but they are also packed with nutrients that can help strengthen your body’s own detoxing systems, says Frank Lipman, MD, a functional and integrative medicine specialist, author of How to Be Well, and founder of Be Well. He particularly likes black walnuts. These have a very strong detoxifying effect on the system as they are a natural antifungal and antimicrobial that can kill parasites in your system, he says. Most people take theirs in capsule form but you can also sprinkle them on a salad or use the oil to make a tasty dressing.

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Solid background from flowers of red clover. Filmed in the Studio. Inflorescence Trifolium rubens already prepared for drying.
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Pick this pretty poppy

Red Clover is a common flower with characteristic bright blooms filling fields in the springtime. But this beauty is also a great detoxifier, Dr. Lipman says. It does double detox duty as a blood cleanser and detoxifier of the liver, he adds. You could munch your way through a meadow, a la Ferdinand the bull, we suppose, or you could buy it in capsule or tea form.

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Take your latte to the next level

“Don’t eat yellow snow” is definitely good advice, but eating yellow foods can be a great way to support your body in getting rid of toxins. Enter turmeric. This mellow yellow spice, popular in Thai and Indian cuisines, is chock full of antioxidants, reducing inflammation in the body and supporting healthy digestion, making it a powerful detoxing agent, Dr. Dean says. One trendy way to get your daily dose is by making “golden milk,” sometimes called a “Thai latte.” Start with coconut milk (or your favorite non-dairy milk), add a sprinkle each of turmeric, cinnamon, ginger and pepper, top with a dollop of honey and heat through.

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closeup fresh cilantro coriander. Chinese parsley.
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Celebrate Taco Tuesday

Not that you need a reason to eat delicious tacos, but one of their classic toppings can help you detox. “Cilantro is very cleansing for the system as it binds to heavy metal toxins and helps expel them from the body,” Dr. Lipman says. If you’re not a fan of tacos, try sprinkling the greens on chili, scrambling them with eggs or adding them to a salad.

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coconut oil

Serve this for dessert tonight

Add detoxing to the long list of health benefits from coconut oil! (At this point, we should be asking what can’t coconut do, frankly.) The key is the caprylic acid in coconut oil, Lipman says. “It has antifungal, antiviral and antibacterial properties,” he explains. “It fights inflammation and is very beneficial for combating yeast/fungal overgrowth in the intestines.” The options for getting your daily dose are nearly endless: Use it to stir fry veggies, spread coconut butter on baked goods, drizzle on salads, mix unsweetened coconut chips into granola or whip up a tasty dessert. Just don’t go overboard with it.

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salmon close up texture.

Put fish on the menu

Your lymphatic system is a network of vessels and glands throughout your body, and its entire job is to help remove waste. Give yours a boost by getting a daily serving of fish oils, Dr. Dean says. “The lymphatic system can get clogged as we age, and omega-3 fatty acids, like the kind found in fish, keep this system clear and functioning properly, which in turn helps keep your immune system strong,” she explains.

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dandelion close up

Sip a cup of this herbal tea

Think dandelions are just for weeding or wishing? Think again, as these humble plants have powerful detox properties, Dr. Lipman says. “Dandelion root is fantastic for liver detoxification as it supports bile production, and bile helps transport toxins out of the body,” he explains. “It also helps promote regular bowel movements because of its diuretic action.” You can find dandelion teas in most grocery stores or in health food stores.

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Slices of Watermelon, Close up view
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Slice up this summer fruit

“Watermelon fights inflammation and helps hydrate the system,” Dr. Lipman says. “Additionally it helps fight free radicals and therefore reduce toxins in the system.” Enjoy this sweet summer melon by the slice, or dice it and stick it in a salad with feta and mint.

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close up pink creamy homemade blueberries or strawberries yogurt texture background

Blend a tangy smoothie

Smoothies are a tasty, convenient way to eat many plants you might not otherwise enjoy on their own and it turns out that the base of nearly every smoothie—plain yogurt—may have detoxifying properties. Probiotic foods, including yogurt and fermented vegetables, may provide a small protective effect from environmental toxins, according to a study published in mBio.

Background from pink Milk thistle

Supplement with this prickly plant

Milk thistle isn’t an herb most people commonly think of, but this plant has been used for centuries to help flush and detox the liver and gallbladder, Dr. Lipman says. “It also helps improve digestive function by eliminating metabolic waste,” he adds. He recommends taking it in tincture or capsule form.

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A very close view of dried cut and sifted burdock root.
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Roast this root

Burdock looks about as appetizing as it sounds, but don’t discount this perennial yet. “Burdock has antimicrobial properties that help cleanse the blood and is loaded with detoxifying nutrients,” Dr. Lipman says. “It is a diuretic which helps expel toxic buildup.” Many stores carry burdock root that you can cook up or brew as tea, or you can buy it dried.

Licorice roots close up on the table

Indulge in this spicy candy

Regardless of which side you take in the Great Black Jelly Bean Debate, the truth is that licorice (the real kind, not the flavoring generally used in candies) can be great for your health. “Licorice is beneficial in a detox protocol for its gut healing and potent anti-inflammatory properties,” Dr. Lipman says. You can find licorice candy made with the real deal (check the ingredients list), or try a cup of licorice tea.

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Mint leaves, mint leaves green and grow up. close up, background.

Eat the garnish on your plate

Yeah, your dining companions might think you’re weird for nibbling the green sprig on your dessert plate, but mint is just as powerful as it is decorative. “Mint is extremely high in antioxidants and helps detox while soothing the digestive system,” Dr. Lipman says. “Additionally it has antimicrobial properties, which is why it is commonly found in oral care products.”

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Chew on this bark

We’re not going to tell you to hug a tree… but we are going to tell you to lick one? Neem, an Indian tree in the mahogany family, is a lesser-known but still very powerful detoxifying herb, Dr. Lipman says. “Neem is antibacterial, antiviral, antifungal, and antiseptic,” he says, adding that it helps detox the body by ridding it of metabolic waste. If you don’t have a neem tree handy, look for Neem in capsule form.

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