If you read about ancient torture methods, you’ll find some pretty gnarly stuff like something called “infusion,” in which a victim is bound and then force fed a list of repulsive substances like salt water, honey, vinegar and hot peppers. But wait! Isn’t that the Master Cleanse?
Truth is, you don’t need to kill yourself with a “detox” regime this New Year’s for rapid weight loss, or to cleanse your body of the damage you over the holidays. Good news is your liver and kidneys do a mighty fine job at the cleanse thing without juices, fasts, or strange concoctions. And there are a handful of foods—delicious ones—with impressive detoxifying and slimming properties, including tea, which I made the cornerstone of The 7-Day Flat-Belly Tea Cleanse, on which test panelists lost 10 pounds. So hold the vinegar and cayenne and give yourself and cleanse away the pounds, torture free, with my new plan—and the delicious foods below!
1. The Fat Zapper: Grapefruit
Instead of overhauling your entire diet in an attempt to slim down for New Year’s, simply eat half a grapefruit before each meal. This tactic can help whittle your middle—by up to an inch—in just six-weeks according to a study published in the journal Metabolism. The scientists attribute the powerful effects to the grapefruit’s fat-zapping phytochemicals. But that’s not all! Another study conducted by Japanese researchers found that the scent of grapefruit can “turn on” calorie-burning brown fat cells, enhancing the breakdown of fat while reducing appetite. Sounds like a great reason to add it to your spring cleaning diet to us. The fruit can interact negatively with certain medications, though, so check in with your M.D before indulging in the citrus appetizer.
2. The Belly Deflator: Hibiscus Tea
If you’ve been keeping warm all winter by sipping on soup, your pants may be feeling tight. Lighten up! You likely haven’t packed on the pounds if you generally stick to a healthy diet; you’re just bloated from all the salty broths. When you consume a lot of sodium the body retains fluids, resulting in a paunchy belly. Luckily, there's a simple solution: Sip some hibiscus tea, at the key times indicated in The 7-Day Flat-Belly Tea Cleanse. Doing so will help your pooch deflate. The flavonoids in the hibiscus plant counteract bloating by influencing how aldosterone, the hormone that regulates water and electrolytes balance, affects the body.
3. The Stomach Settler: Guacamole
Think of guacamole as a designated driver for your digestive system. A study in The Journal of Agricultural Food Chemistry analyzed the effects of feeding 22 different fruits to a group of rats with liver damage caused by galactosamine, a liver toxin. The fruit that proved most beneficial? You guessed it: the avocado. Cilantro, the savory herb that gives guac its distinctive flavor, contains a unique blend of oils that send a “simmer down!” message to an upset stomach. In fact, these two oils (specifically, linalool and geranyl acetate) are so powerful they’ve been shown to have a positive impact on irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), according to a study published in the journal Digestive Diseases and Science. (There are easy ways to enjoy it on the run, too. Check out Wholly Guacamole's 100-calorie packs and the rest of our list of the 50 Best Snacks for Weight Loss.)
4. The Belly Fat Blocker: White Tea
Any tea will help soothe your nerves, but white tea, part of The 7-Day Flat-Belly Tea Cleanse, packs a particular one-two punch that can actually attack belly fat. A study published in the journal Nutrition and Metabolism showed that white tea can simultaneously boost lipolysis (the breakdown of fat) and block adipogenesis (the formation of fat cells). The tea’s combination of caffeine and epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG) seems to set fat cells up for defeat.
5. The Pain Killer: Turmeric
You can put an ice pack on your throbbing head, but to get the same anti-inflammatory effect throughout the rest of your body, order the curry. Curcumin, a compound derived from the bright-orange spice turmeric, works as a powerful anti-inflammatory in the liver, research shows. A study in the journal Gut found supplementing with curcumin could significantly reduce bile duct blockage and curbed scarring (fibrosis) by interfering with chemical reactions involved in the inflammatory process.
6. The Hangover Cure: Asparagus
When you’re huddled over a plate of greasy diner food, begging the Hangover Gods for forgiveness, ask the waiter for a side of steamed asparagus. According to a study in the Journal of Food Science, the amino acids and minerals found in asparagus may alleviate hangover symptoms and protect liver cells against toxins. The veggie spears are also a natural diuretic, which will help flush the excess toxins from your system.
7. The Cholesterol Buster: Collard Greens
A staple vegetable of Southern cuisine, collard greens have an incredible ability to cleanse your system of excess cholesterol, especially when steamed. A recent study published in the journal Nutrition Research compared the bile acid binding capacity of steamed collard greens to Cholestyramine, a cholesterol-lowering drug. Incredibly, the collards improved the body’s cholesterol-blocking process by 13 percent more than the drug! Just hold the artery-clogging fried chicken. And click here for the essential 30 Foods That Melt Love Handles!
8. The Detoxifier: Lemon Water
Start each day by making a large pitcher of “spa” water filled with sliced whole lemons, and make a point of sipping your way through at least 8 glasses before bedtime. Citrus fruits are rich in the antioxidant de-limonene, a powerful compound found in the peel that stimulates liver enzymes to help flush toxins from the body and gives sluggish bowels a kick, according to the World Health Organization.
9. The Artery Plumber: Wild Salmon
If quitting smoking is a New Year’s resolution, add a side of salmon. Researchers say a healthy diet rich in anti-inflammatory omega-3 fatty acids may then help to reverse arterial stiffness—a common side effect of smoking, which, like a kinked hose, inhibits the flow of cleansing blood through the arteries and to vital organs. A three-week study in the International Journal of Cardiology found smokers who supplemented with just 2 grams of omega-3s a day—what you’ll find in a 4-ounce portion of salmon—saw marked improvement in the elasticity of the arteries, allowing for healthy blood flow. (Just make sure you're buying wild versions. Find out why in our exclusive report on the 8 Reasons You Should Never Order the Salmon.)
10. The Cell Regenerator: Beets
While we wouldn’t recommend a hard-core, food-free detox to get ready for New Year’s, adding some naturally-detoxifying beets to your plate is a strategy we can get behind. These jewel-toned roots contain a type of antioxidant called betalains that help repair and regenerate cells in the liver, the body’s primary detox center. If you’ve been boozing to stay warm (no judgement, hot toddies are delicious), your liver may be feeling overworked. Beets will give it a bit of support so you’re ready for that packed party schedule come spring.
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