Clean eating is a diet theory that says you should avoid eating processed and refined foods or artificial ingredients, such as additives or preservatives. Instead, you choose to eat natural, whole foods. While it’s true that clean eating may help you feel better, other diets can do the same thing. It’s always good to strive to eat healthily. If you want to try clean eating, here are the ten best foods to start with and five reasons you should pivot away from processed foods.
Is Clean Eating Healthy?
Many physicians advise that eliminating processed foods and eating a natural diet is a healthy lifestyle change–they highly recommend it. There are many different ideas on what foods you can eat on a clean diet. Some people won’t eat foods with hormones, while others say clean eating is not eating packaged foods or foods in jars.
However, this advice comes with one caveat–overthinking this lifestyle can become an obsession for a few people. According to the British Medical Journal, clean eating for some people verges on “Orthorexia Nervosa,” an obsession with eating only healthy and could be on the eating disorder spectrum.
If you think you may have an eating disorder, get help immediately to avoid harming your health. Except for in those rare cases, clean eating helps you live a healthier life.
10 Best Foods to Start Clean Eating
Now that you know about cutting processed foods off your menu, here are ten categories to add to your plate.
1. Fresh fruit
Generally speaking, you can’t go wrong with eating fruit. You’ll receive many nutrients if you choose to eat fresh, fresh, or canned fruits. If you eat canned fruit, be sure it’s canned in juice rather than syrup to avoid extra sugar. Some people worry that fruit is too high in sugar, but fruit’s fiber, vitamins, and minerals outweigh the concerns. Aim for five to eight servings of fruits and vegetables daily. Some of the best fruits you can enjoy for clean eating include these:
Vegetables are another staple food to include in your clean eating. Buy them fresh, frozen, or canned for maximum benefits. They’re good grilled, roasted, boiled, or sauteed. The vegetables you love are the best to eat. Some veggies you may want to add to your clean eating diet include the following:
- Sweet potatoes
Many grocery stores sell pre-cut veggies for easy preparation when life gets busy. These prepared packages help you add veggies to your diet without much effort.
Another natural food to add to your clean eating diet is dried legumes. They’re rich in resistant starch, a carbohydrate that leaves your small intestine and ferments in your large intestine. Resistant starches act like prebiotics, which feed the good bacteria in your gut. These starches help your gut’s overall function and protect you from dangerous bacteria growth. Adding beans to your diet helps you lose weight and feel full when you eat them. Add beans to salads, soups, or stews. Beans offer protein, iron, and fiber. The best beans to add to your diet include:
- Kidney beans
- Navy beans
- Black beans
- Lima beans
- Pinto beans
4. Lean meats
Clean eating includes eating lean meats that are, if possible, hormone and antibiotic-free. Meat is a good source of protein. Protein is essential to regulate blood pressure, bone metabolism, glucose, and immune system. Every cell in your body contains protein. Add protein to your clean diet to help repair your cells and make new cells. Meat provides essential amino acids. Different types of essential amino acids work together to help proteins function.
Amino acids in these ways:
- Have a healthier digestive system.
- It provides you with energy
- Maintains brain chemicals and hormone balance
- Growth of tissues
- Supports healthy hair, skin, and nails.
- Boosts your immune system.
5. Whole Grains
Whole grain foods are those with the entire grain still on them. They contain germ and bran, two dietary fibers. Studies show adding whole grains to your diet is beneficial in preventing type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and pancreatic, gastric, and colorectal cancers.
Skip overly processed bread, pasta, and rice. Instead, choose whole-grain alternatives like oats, brown rice, popcorn, or whole-wheat pasta. These are small changes, but they can significantly impact your health.
6. Dairy or non-dairy products
Dairy products have lots of minerals and vitamins, including:
- Vitamin D
- Vitamin A
Some dairy foods like milk and cheese are great additions to your favorite dishes. However, you must choose coconut, oat, or almond milk for a non-dairy option. Most of these products are calcium-fortified. But be sure to check the food labels on these products. Many of them contain sugar, preservatives, and other fillers.
Seafood and fish are staples of clean eating. They are rich in omega 3, an essential nutrient for good heart health. Fish and seafood are also natural sources of vitamin D and selenium. Seafood includes all kinds of underwater animals, such as
- Freshwater fish
- Saltwater fish
Studies found that eating even a moderate amount of fish can provide you with health benefits and can prevent health conditions such as:
- Myocardial infarction
- Heart failure
- Type 2 diabetes
- Atrial fibrillation
8. Nuts and seeds
Nuts and seeds maximize clean eating. They’re naturally high in protein, fiber, vitamins, and minerals. Although high in fat, they are a good source of heart-healthy fats. Eat nuts in different dishes or by themselves for a quick energy boost during your day.
If you haven’t added eggs to your clean eating diet, you’re missing out on a significant source of nutrition. Benefits include the following:
- Improves your brain function
- Gives you energy
- Repair your muscles and tissues
- It helps your immune system
- Lowers your risk of heart disease
- Increases healthy pregnancy
- Skin health
- Eye Health
- Weight loss
10. Olive or coconut oils
Eating healthy includes healthy oils like olive or coconut oils. Both plant-based oils are excellent sources of minerals and vitamins. Some of the benefits of these oils include.
- Lowers your cholesterol
- It helps manage blood sugar levels
Choose extra virgin olive oil and coconut oils. Please read the labels to be sure they are pure, not recycled, oils.
Why should you eat clean?
Eating healthy is always a good choice. When you eat healthy, natural foods, you receive numerous benefits. Here are five benefits of eating clean, healthy foods.
1. Clean eating lowers your inflammation
These clean foods can lower the inflammation in your body. Inflammation is joint in many chronic conditions that damage your cells, heart, brain, and digestive system. Maintaining a healthy diet is the best way to stay healthy.
2. Clean eating lowers acidity in your body
Some doctors suggest that acidity is terrible for your body, but other scientists aren’t convinced. You may want to try clean eating for some time to see if you feel better and have more energy. Discuss body acidity with your doctor and see if you need to make menu adjustments.
3. Control your blood sugar by clean eating
Processed foods are high in sugar and salt. Eating clean foods helps maintain blood glucose levels, allowing insulin receptors to work well. This helps your body produce hormones and keep your body weight.
Eating a clean diet gives you the maximum amount of nutrients. You’ll feel better, have more energy, and look younger when you eat healthily.
4. Clean eating will help save money
Another reason to eat clean, healthy foods is that you and your family won’t get sick as much. This means fewer trips to the doctor for costly prescriptions and fewer missed days at school and work. Buying fruits and veggies at a local market will help you save money. Clean eating enables you to avoid eating out, which is a considerable expense in your budget.
5. You’ll live longer with clean eating
Consuming fresh whole foods like the ones listed will help you live a longer, healthier life. What you eat matters. If you consume sugary, fatty foods, your body will suffer. Not only will you not feel well, but it’ll shorten your life. The most significant contributors to premature heart-related deaths in multiple studies were the high consumption of salt and trans fats in processed foods, particularly partially hydrogenated oils.
Final Thoughts on Enjoying the Healthy Benefits of Clean Eating and Leaving Processed Foods in the Past
Clean eating is simply eating healthy whole foods. It shouldn’t be so restrictive. It would help if you didn’t eliminate it from your diet. Clean eating should include fresh, natural vegetables, lean meats, olive oil, nuts and seeds, and fruits. Healthy eating always makes you feel better. At the same time, processed foods make you feel sluggish and could contribute to inflammation in your body. Strive to eat healthily. If you want to start eating clean, these natural foods are a great place to begin.