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!
The Fat Zapper
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.
The Belly Deflator
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 inThe 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.
The Stomach Settler
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.)
The Belly-Fat Buster
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.
The Pain Killer
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.
The Hangover Cure
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.
The Cholesterol Buster
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!
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.
The Artery Plumber
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.)
The Cell Regenerator
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.
The Skin Glower
If you’re already feeling a bit pasty from winter, cook up some sweet potatoes. You’ll get a sun-kissed complexion from the carotenoids, an organic pigment that gives the spuds their orange color. But, no, you won’t look like an Oompa Loompa—we promise. In fact, given the choice between a real suntan and a glow caused by diet, study participants preferred the carotenoid complexion. Just half a medium potato with the skin provides 200 percent of your daily recommended carcinoid intake, so eat up!
The Metabolism Booster
One of the best metabolism-boosting ingredients out there is likely already sitting in your refrigerator: mustard. Eating just one teaspoon of the stuff—for a mere 5 calories—can boost your metabolism by up to 25 percent for several hours, according to English researchers. Smear some of the spread onto a turkey sandwich, brush some onto a fish fillet before baking, or use it as a meat marinade. Since eating protein can also boost your calorie burn, combining them is a middle-whittling double whammy!
The Appetite Suppressant
Add some spinach to your plate to ward off hunger naturally. The green’s membranes contain a powerful appetite suppressing compounds called thylakoids. A cup of spinach is super-low cal, so go ahead and add some to your breakfast smoothie, morning omelet or lunchtime sandwich to fill up without filling out.
The Water Drainer
No matter how toned your stomach actually is, bloat can banish your abs from sight. Luckily, fighting back against gas and water retention is as easy as biting into a banana. Eating the fruit twice daily as a pre-meal snack can reduce belly-bloat by 50 percent according to researchers! Bananas have two superpowers that help slim your stomach: they increase bloat-fighting bacteria in the stomach and provide a healthy dose of potassium, which can help diminish water retention. Translation: You’ll shimmy into those cute spring fashions with confidence. And click here to see 21 Amazing Things Bananas Do To Your Body!
The Skin Protector
Consuming foods high in antioxidants, like tomatoes, can actually ward off skin damage from the inside out. Study participants who ate five tablespoons of tomato paste a day had 33 percent more protection against sunburn than a control group, in one British Journal of Dermatology study. Don’t worry, you don’t have to down it straight. Look for low-sodium varieties to keep bloating at bay, and add it to soups, stews, sauces, or omelets for a hit of Mediterranean flavor.
The Bowel Mover
If you have sluggish bowels or suffer from chronic constipation, you may be sporting a bit of a belly. While you’ve likely heard that adding fiber to your diet may be helpful, you may not know that few sources of the nutrient are as effective as kiwi. Patients with Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) who ate two kiwis a day for a month had less constipation and a general lessening of IBS symptoms than those who didn’t in a study conducted by researchers in Pacific Asia. Add the powerful fruit to your oatmeal, throw it into smoothies or combine it with other fruits in a light, refreshing salad.
If you typically eat your potatoes warm, you’re missing out on the spud’s super fat-fighting powers. When potatoes are cooked and then cooled in the refrigerator its digestible starches turn into resistant starches through a process called retrogradation. As the name implies, the body has to work harder to digest resistant starch, which promotes fat oxidation and reduces abdominal fat. If the idea of eating cold spuds straight isn’t appetizing, consider using them to make a potato salad. After baking Yukon Gold or red potatoes in the oven, allow them to cool and then cut them into small slices. Dress them with Dijon mustard, fresh pepper, chopped green onions, dill and plain Greek yogurt (its probiotics can help banish bloat, so it’s a win-win). Then, mix everything together and put in the refrigerator to cool before consuming. To lose weight even faster, don’t miss these 25 Ways to Lose Weight in 5 Seconds.
The Liver Fixer
Downing those winter cocktails make you more than fat and hungover; the fatty deposits that build up around your liver after weeks of overeating and drinking put you at increased risk for liver cancer. But just a couple small handfuls a day of vitamin-packed almonds could help cleanse the deposits out, according to a recent study from the Journal of the National Cancer Institute. Researchers found a clear inverse response between vitamin E intake and liver cancer risk; those that consumed the most—about 16 mg, or about 15 almonds—showed a 40 percent lower risk of liver cancer than those who consumed less.
You went out on a limb and bought a tight little dress for your friend’s spring wedding—it’s one size too small. What better motivation to lose weight, right? Now you have a month and a half to shrink your waist. Don’t freak out. Here’s your game plan: Instead of overhauling your entire diet, simply add an artichoke to your dinner salad. For every 10 grams of fiber you eat daily, your middle will carry almost 4% less flab according to researchers. Just one artichoke will help you hit the day’s nutritional mark—and look trim as ever on your friend’s big day! For more fat-blasting tips, click here for 44 Ways to Lose 4 Inches of Body Fat!
The Gas Passer
While eating something that can give you gas to slim down for spring may sound counterintuitive, it’s actually a solid strategy. In one four-week study, researchers found that study participants who ate a calorie-restricted diet that included four weekly servings of legumes lost more weight than those on a calorie-equivalent diet that didn’t include beans—likely due to the legume’s high fiber content. To reap the benefits at home, add lentils, chickpeas, peas and beans into your weekly diet. Those were the exact types of legumes participants ate in the study.
Oats are a rich source gut friendly fiber. One cup of oats delivers 16 grams of fiber, including insoluble, which feeds healthy bacteria in your gut, and a soluble kind called beta-glucan. Bonus: Oats also contain the anti-inflammatory compound avenanthramide, which combined with beta-glucan—help prevent against obesity-related health problems including heart disease and diabetes. And research in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition suggests oatmeal may be the most filling breakfast in the cereal aisle—resulting in greater and longer-lasting feelings of satiety than ready-to-eat breakfast cereal. Enjoy some with a cup of weight-loss tea—choose a decaffinated one from this list of The 21 Best-Ever Teas for Weight Loss.
The Hormone Controller
One cup of antioxidant-rich blackberries packs in 7.6 grams of fiber! Bonus: By combining the two, you trigger your gut to produce butyrate, a fatty acid that reduces fat-causing inflammation throughout your body. In a Canadian study, researchers discovered that those whose diets were supplemented with insoluble fiber had higher levels of ghrelin—a hormone that controls hunger. Shed pounds easily—and in minutes—by cooking up these essential, delicious and proven recipes for overnight oats that help you lose weight.
The Almond Alternative
Sick of noshing on almonds? A quarter-cup serving of sunflower seeds is just over 200 calories and provides 3 grams of fiber. Plus, sunflower seeds make a healthy and filling addition to any diet, serving up a fair share of magnesium, a mineral that keeps blood pressure normal, maintains steady heart rhythm and helps boost lipolysis, a process by which the body releases fat from its stores. Try tossing them into oatmeal and salads for extra crunch.
The Chocolate Cure
If you’re a chocolate addict, we’ve got some good news! Cocoa powder, the raw, unprocessed form of cocoa powder, is a great way combat bloat and sneak more fiber into your diet — while simultaneously quieting your chocolate cravings. With the colder months approaching, try mixing two tablespoons of cacao powder into hot water for a healthy, filling spin on hot cocoa that packs in 4 grams of fiber. We like Rapunzel Organic Cocoa Powder because it hasn’t undergone alkalization, a process that strips out the health benefits of the cocoa bean.
The Detox Water
What if there was an easy way to flatten your belly–almost instantly–without counting calories, sweating at the gym, or trying out that new shapewear trend? There is: Detox water. Sweating away the stress and snacks of the workday is an unquestionably healthy habit, as is trying to eat well for your body. But pesky water weight can cling to your belly through the cleanest day of eating and the most intense workout session, and that’s where water comes in. It’s no secret that chugging plain H2O can be less than stimulating, but there are fun ways to make this healthy habit less of a chore. Certain fruits have detoxifying properties in their flesh and peels; slice them whole into your water to reap the benefits and hit your water intake quota with an infusion of flavor. We rounded up some of the most delicious-looking ways to drink up and de-puff from healthy Instagrammers to inspire you to be creative with your next water bottle refill—click here for The 14 Best Detox Waters That Banish Bloat!