Living in a northern climate often means a long chilly break from fresh produce. By December, produce in the grocery store is looking questionable. By February, fruits and vegetables are low on flavor and even lower in nutrients.
That’s why I love the spring season. Fresh produce is making its return, and it won’t be long before I can get delicious food straight out of the garden or fresh from a farmers’ market. Depending on your location and climate, there are great garden and farm foods available as soon as the frost lifts, many of which give a boost to your body after a long sluggish winter.
When it comes to cleansing your body of harmful toxins, food really is the best medicine. Many of your favorite foods also cleanse the liver, kidneys, skin, intestines, and other detoxification systems. Add more of these nutritious and delicious springtime foods to your diet to help ward off the harmful effects of bad food choices, pollution, food additives, second-hand smoke, among other toxins. Here are my top six picks for seasonal spring detox foods:
Artichokes – Artichokes are a highly underrated vegetable. They are high in vitamin C and fiber and help to increase bile production in the body, which helps the intestines eliminate toxins from the body. Artichokes also contain a substance that helps the liver break down fatty acids. This is good news because the average diet and lifestyle creates tremendous strain on the liver’s ability to filter out toxins. (Need some cooking inspiration? 15 Ways to Use Artichokes)
Asparagus – It is hard to beat asparagus when it is coated in olive oil, sprinkled with sea salt and lightly grilled on the barbecue. This flowering perennial is an excellent source of vitamin K and folate, the latter of which is particularly necessary for pregnant women. Asparagus also contains vitamins A, C, B1, B2, B6, niacin, manganese, potassium, magnesium and selenium. You can find some asparagus recipes here.
Garlic – Forget worrying about your breath and enjoy the potent healing properties of fresh garlic. Where I live, garlic is usually planted in the fall and the ready for harvest in late spring. Garlic is a relative of onion and shares many of its same health benefits. It can destroy harmful bacteria, intestinal parasites, and viruses in the body, helps cleanse buildup from the arteries and lowers blood pressure. Garlic is well known for its anti-cancer and antioxidant properties and also helps cleanse the respiratory tract by expelling mucous buildup in the lungs and sinuses. Keep in mind that store-bought garlic powder offers none of these benefits found in fresh, easy-to-grow garlic. Don’t be afraid to give fresh garlic a starring role in your cooking; try these garlic-heavy recipes.
Onions – Onions are as versatile as they are health promoting. Research on these members of the allium family has uncovered powerful antioxidant and anti-cancer capabilities. Onions also thin and cleanse the blood and lower LDL cholesterol without lessening HDL cholesterol. Rich in biotin (which aids sugar and fat metabolism) and phytonutrients like polyphenols, onions also help detoxify the respiratory tract and fight asthma, bronchitis, hay fever, and diabetes. Onions, like garlic, help cleanse the body of viruses and the intestines of harmful bacteria.
Strawberries – Still not a fan of vegetables? Late spring is the season of nutrient- and enzyme-rich strawberries. Eating eight strawberries (who can stop at eight?) will give you more vitamin C than an orange. Like most delicious berries, they are among the highest foods measured for antioxidant capacity. Fresh or frozen, on a salad or in a smoothie, strawberries offer a delicious treat and protect you from heart disease, arthritis, memory loss, cancer and a host of other health problems. Detox never tasted so good!
Watercress – Not the most common leafy green used in salads but certainly one of the healthiest, this aquatic plant increases detoxification enzymes in the body and contains phytonutrients that have successfully inhibited carcinogens. In a study at the Norwich Food Research Centre in the United Kingdom, smokers who were given 170 grams of watercress per day eliminated higher than average amounts of carcinogens in their urine, thereby reducing their numbers in their body. Watercress has a mild, peppery flavor that enhances salads, soups and sandwiches. (Try this pan-fried tofu with lemon sauce and watercress.)
Image of strawberries via Shutterstock