Love Your Liver
This salad, a liver supportive oestrogen detox recipe is ridiculously simple. Chop ingredients, assemble on plate, shake dressing in a jar, pour over. That’s it. Well there is some toasting of walnuts in there somewhere, but honestly that’s the only cooking involved.
I designed this salad specifically to support hormonal health – in particular for detoxification from oestrogen dominance (estrogen in USA) – the female hormone. I studied and researched the subject of dysmenorrhrea (painful menstruation) for my final presentation at natural chef college and discovered that a dominance of oestrogen is often to blame. This is due to the fact that under oestrogen dominance there is often an increase of menstrual prostaglandins. Painful painful periods occur when a high level of menstrual prostaglandins are released from cells in the uterus lining as it sheds during menstruation (Chan, 1981 / Ludwig, 1996)¹. Oestrogen dominance and painful periods are a complex subject and the human body is not a simple machine with an accompanying ‘how to’ manual. There are many other conditions that exist as a result of oestrogen dominance but this is not an area of expertise I yet have. However, I hope this has given you a taster of how fascinating naturopathic nutrition can be, and how I came to design this salad. This salad was factored into my 1 week meal plan I designed for my final assignment. Back then it was a mere listing of ingredients – today it has been developed into a proper recipe.
So, to combat oestrogen dominance an all natural ‘clean’ anti-inflammatory diet is a good place to start. Avoiding commercial hormone rich meat & dairy, and xenoestrogens from plastics and beauty products (such as BPA, paraben) & reducing stress is also highly recommended. There is much debate about avoiding soy too.
To add value to this ‘clean’ diet there are some wonderful naturopathically supportive foods that can be added in to improve liver function, which will in turn aid detoxification. This salad highlights a few of them;
- Beetroot: Has a stimulating effect on the liver’s detoxification process. (Murray 2008, 167)² . The liver is where the body cleans out toxins. I’ve used vacuum packed beetroot as this is a 5 minute recipe, but if you have time, oven roasted beetroot is deliciously superior, mostly because the roasting process brings out the natural sweetness of the beet.
- Grapefruit: Also supportive to the liver – helps make toxic compounds more water soluble for excretion. It is the compounds glucarates in grapefruit pulp which may help rid the body of excessive oestrogen (Murray 2008, 280)²
- Rocket (arugula): A leafy green which is (surprisingly) from the cruciferous family, like cauliflower, kale, brussels, cabbage, collards, radishes etc. Crucifers are stimulators of natural detoxifying enzymes in the body. (Murray 2008, 230)². Dandelion greens are the ultimate liver detoxing green – you could definitely benefit by adding them to this salad!
- Walnuts: Rich in Omega 3 – helps to reduce inflammation, and also provide raw material for production of good prostaglandins (Duke 2008, 275)³
- Cruciferous vegetables in general are fabulous for oestrogen balancing because the Isothioncynates in cruciferous veg oppose oestrogen by blocking it from taking effect. How about also checking out my cauliflower tabbouleh for a great way of getting cauliflower in your diet.
The Encyclopaedia of Healing Foods by Michael Murray, is a great book if you’re interested in reading about the naturopathic application of foods further.
- 40g walnuts, toasted (in a drizzle of oil & pinch of salt)
- 1 x red (or pink) grapefruit, supremed* (reserve juice for dressing)
- 2 Tbs olive oil
- ½ Tbs reserved grapefruit juice
- ½ Tbs lemon juice
- tsp honey
- tsp Dijon mustard
- salt & pepper
- 250g vacuum packed beetroot, drained, and quartered
- 75-100g rocket
- Toast the walnuts in a hot pan for a couple of minutes, this improves the flavour. Remove from the hot pan and cool.
- Prepare the grapefruit*, reserving some of the juice and set aside.
- Put the oil, grapefruit juice, lemon juice, honey, mustard and seasoning in a small jar. Screw on the lid and shake together to emulsify.
- Slice the beetroot into wedges.
- Toss the rocket with the grapefruit and the beetroot, drizzle over the dressing, and scatter the walnuts on top.
You could also add avocado to this salad.
Perfect served with an oven baked piece of salmon or mackerel - upping those Omega 3's!
I demo’d this recipe along with Tabbouleh at London’s College of Naturopathic Medicine on June 11th and will be repeating at their short course open morning on 25th June [more info here]. If you pop along do say hello!
- Chan, WY., et al. (1981) “Prostaglandins in primary dysmenorrhea. Comparison of prophylactic and nonprophylactic treatment with ibuprofen and use of oral contraceptives” . Am J Med. Abstract (Pubmed) / Ludwig, H (1996). “Dysmenorrhea”. Ther Umsch. Abstract (Pubmed)
- Murray, Michael. The Encyclopedia of Healing Foods. Bath, UK: Index Books Ltd, 2007.
- Duke, James A. The Green Pharmacy Guide to Healing Foods. New York: Rodale, 2008