Jameela’s A to Z guide to nutrition

By Jameela Ali

I thought I’d kick things off for my nutrition column by having a regular column of “A to Z” of foods, highlighting some of their biggest health benefits. Without further ado, A is for…


Apples are at the top of the list when it comes to detoxifying your liver. Apples are full of a particularly important fiber called pectin. Pectin promotes regularity and helps to cleanse the intestinal tract by binding to fats and ridding the body of any undigested food particles and accumulated toxins, like food additives. The phenolic compound found in apple skins also prevents “bad” LDL cholesterol from solidifying onto the walls of your arteries.


Choose organic Red Delicious or Granny Smith apples as they contain the most antioxidants according to a 2004 USDA study. Other pectin-rich foods include pears and guava.


The alfalfa plant has been used around the world for centuries due to its strong health-promoting qualities. The leaves and seeds contain high levels of enzymes that help with digestion and delivery of nutrients to various organs. Not only does it act as a diuretic, cleansing the urinary tract, but it also purifies the blood and liver. Alfalfa also has a strong alkaline effect on the body, which balances our very acidic Western diet and can prevent many diseases, according to recent studies. I enjoy alfalfa leaves by drinking Yogi Healthy Fasting tea. This tea includes other powerful cleansing herbs like burdock root, cinnamon bark and cardamom seeds. Add raw honey, to taste.



Known for their ability to support our body’s natural cleansing of the liver, artichokes promote bile flow due to an abundance of the antioxidant compound known as caffeoylquinic acid. Bile itself is an emulsifier that breaks down fats and carries toxins and other waste from the liver to the small intestine for eventual elimination when nature calls. For a great side dish or snack, roast artichokes in an oven or boil them in water until soft to touch. Drizzle olive oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper.


This spring blossoming plant is not only a natural diuretic but is also packed with antioxidants. Asparagus is a rich source of a detoxifying compound called glutathione. Glutathione, which is also found in avocado, kale and Brussels sprouts, can slow the aging process by neutralizing harmful free radicals like carcinogens (cancer-causing substances) that can cause damage to our cells. Glutathione blocks at least thirty different carcinogens while aiding detoxification of synthetic chemicals from the liver. It also blocks the absorption of certain fats by the intestines that cause oxidative damage to our cells. Choose green asparagus over white or purple varieties for maximum health benefits. Stir-fry with mushrooms, onions and some minced garlic or steam for 30 to 40 seconds and blanch in cold water to stop cooking, which will help retain its crispness.


Like most fruits, avocado is rich in both soluble and insoluble fiber. However, the ratio of soluble fiber to insoluble fiber is 1:3, which is rare and adds to its cleansingproperties. Insoluble fiber promotes regularity, which cleanses the colon and reduces LDL cholesterol. Soluble fiber is also very important to the body’s natural detoxification process. This particular fiber not only absorbs water into the digestive tract, but it creates a “gelling” effect similar to psyllium husk, which helps bind to substances in the digestive tract, moving them out quickly and preventing toxic buildup.
Fresh Avocados from Mexico

Avocados also dilate blood vessels while blocking toxins from harming our arteries. And don’t forget, it contains the same cleansing powerhouse compound, glutathione, as asparagus. Aim for ¼ cup a day.
See also: Guacamole recipe, Avocado: Dry Hair Remedy

Stay tuned for next week’s column!

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