When I grew up in the 1970s, I remember my mom saying to me:
“The whiter the bread, the quicker you’re dead.”
At the time, I didn’t quite understand what she was talking about, but now, decades later, it’s clear to me. If we look at our current food supply, there are several foods that are “white” and unhealthy because they’ve been stripped of nutrients: table sugar, flour, rice, pasta, bread, marshmallows, and crackers, to name a few. In all these cases, white is not considered a healing color of purity and detoxification – in fact, just the opposite!
There are, however, some nutritious, white-colored foods which I incorporate into my Whole Detox program. Here are some examples and some tips:
It is one of the many cruciferous vegetables that can assist in healthy detoxification processes in the liver, more than half as potent as the “detox superstars,” broccoli and kale; Eating some occasional cauliflower is a good way to add some variety to your cruciferous vegetable intake.
A study in 2007 (Kirsh et al.) found that “High intake of cruciferous vegetables, including broccoli and cauliflower, may be associated with reduced risk of aggressive prostate cancer, particularly extraprostatic disease.” Cauliflower has a low glycemic index of 15-30. One of my favorite ways to prepare it is to briefly sauté the florets in extra-virgin olive oil and spices and serve warm.
These gorgeous white orbs are healing and helpful for blood sugar, heart health, and, of course, detox! They contain at least 25 different plant compounds called flavonoids, with one of the most popular ones, known as quercetin, which is a potent antioxidant.
Red onions tend to contain just a bit more of the flavonol phytonutrients than the yellow onions, although there is some variability based on where the onion was grown. Most of those phytonutrients are right below the skin, so do not peel your onions too much! Onions have a very low glycemic index of 10-15.
Coconut Milk and Oil
The Whole Detox recipes emphasize coconut oil and coconut milk, primarily because of the content of short- and medium-chain fats which are helpful for the healing of the gut, and also because they are quickly burned as fuel by the liver.
Coconut products have a reputation for their anti-microbial and anti-viral effects. One recent study showed that an extra-virgin coconut-containing diet decreased waist size and increased good cholesterol in people with coronary artery disease.
Garlic is a detox heavy-hitter, much like the other white foods listed here. It has so many medicinal uses, from lowering cholesterol to balancing blood sugar to helping with heart health and blood pressure. When it comes to detox, its sulfur and selenium contents come in handy. Let raw garlic sit after cutting it to maximize the production of protective antioxidants.
Turnips (low glycemic index for raw form, high for cooked) and parsnips (medium to high glycemic index when cooked) in stews and soups. Both provide great opportunities to increase fiber intake, along with a complex array of different plant nutrients that protect the body from oxidative stress damage. Do not overcook them because they will become mushy and their glycemic impact will increase. If you want, you can shred them into your salads as a tasty touch!
So next time you think of “white foods,” know that there are several varieties of foods that are healthy and delicious. When I refer to the colors of foods – yellow, orange, green, blue, purple, and red – I also include “white” in that list. Our human vision may not pick up all the colorless phytonutrients, but they are present and extremely valuable!
Enjoy a complimentary recipe below that uses white foods from my book, Whole Detox!
Creamy Spiced Cauliflower Soup (Vegan) with Lamb (Omnivore)
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½ pound organic, grass-fed, boneless lamb, cubed (omnivores only)
2 teaspoons coconut oil
½ medium yellow onion, diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
Pinch of crushed red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon turmeric powder
Pinch of ground coriander
Pinch of ground cardamom
Pinch of sea salt
Dash of ground black pepper
½ large head cauliflower, roughly chopped
1 cup unsweetened, full-fat coconut milk
2 cups organic vegetable broth
1 bay leaf
1 tablespoon cashew nut butter
In a large soup pot set over medium heat, warm the coconut oil.
For omnivores, add the lamb and sauté it for several minutes before adding the onion and garlic.
Both omnivores and vegans, sauté the onion and garlic, stirring occasionally, until the onions become translucent, about 3 minutes. Add the red pepper flakes, cumin, turmeric, coriander, cardamom, salt, and black pepper, and stir the mixture well for about 1 minute. Then add the cauliflower, coconut milk, broth, bay leaf, and cashew nut butter. Bring the soup to a boil, then reduce the heat and let it simmer gently for about 15 minutes, until the cauliflower is tender and, for omnivores, the lamb is cooked.
Ladle half the soup into a serving bowl and serve it warm.
Nutritional Facts per Serving
|Calories||Protein (g)||Carbs (g)||Fat (g)||Sat Fat (g)||Unsat Fat (g)||Fiber (g)|
Anderson GH, Soeandy CD, Smith CE. White vegetables: glycemia and satiety. Adv Nutr. 2013 May 1;4(3):356S-67S. doi: 10.3945/an.112.003509.
Cardoso DA, Moreira AS, De Oliveira GM, Raggio Luiz R, Rosa G. A COCONUT EXTRA VIRGIN OIL-RICH DIET INCREASES HDL CHOLESTEROL AND DECREASES WAIST CIRCUMFERENCE AND BODY MASS IN CORONARY ARTERY DISEASE PATIENTS. Nutr Hosp. 2015 Nov 1;32(n05):2144-2152.
Kirsh VA, Peters U, Mayne ST, Subar AF, Chatterjee N, Johnson CC, Hayes RB; Prostate, Lung, Colorectal and Ovarian Cancer Screening Trial. Prospective study of fruit and vegetable intake and risk of prostate cancer. J Natl Cancer Inst. 2007 Aug 1;99(15):1200-9. Epub 2007 Jul 24.
Sharquie KE, Al-Obaidi HK. Onion juice (Allium cepa L.), a new topical treatment for alopecia areata. J Dermatol. 2002 Jun;29(6):343-6.
Slimestad R, Fossen T, Vågen IM. Onions: a source of unique dietary flavonoids. J Agric Food Chem. 2007 Dec 12;55(25):10067-80. Epub 2007 Nov 13.
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