Clean Eating Ingredient Guidelines

Eating clean is about consuming food in its most natural, unprocessed state. Find out what types of foods are clean choices in this handy list you can print out and take with you to the grocery store.
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Eating clean is about consuming food in its most natural, unprocessed state. Find out what types of foods are clean choices in this handy list you can print out and take with you to the grocery store.

1) Healthy fats

Cook with and consume healthy fats on a daily basis. Opt for fats such as:

2) Flours and grains

Look for 100% whole grain varieties of the following, and look for options without additives or preservatives.

Gluten-free flours such as coconut, brown rice (no white rice flours) are also acceptable.

3) Dairy

Use full-fat organic (and grass-fed where possible) options of the following:

  • Plain yogurt
  • Greek yogurt
  • Buttermilk
  • Sour cream
  • Cottage cheese
  • Cream cheese
  • Cheese (goat, Parmesan, ricotta, etc.)
  • Milk

4) Nondairy/Protein Alternatives

Unsweetened plain almond, soy, rice and coconut milks (made without additives such as carrageenan)

  • Organic tofu
  • Organic tempeh

5) Seafood

Sustainable fish and shellfish (check seafoodwatch.org for a list of best choices).

6) Produce

Purchase organic vegetables and fruits on ‘The Dirty Dozen’ list (ewg.org) but otherwise conventional produce is acceptable.
Additive-free frozen fruits and vegetables are permitted.

7) Meats

Opt for hormone- and antibiotic-free organic lean meats whenever possible (and grass-fed if your budget allows).

  • Poultry
  • Lean red meats
  • All-natural/organic bacon or sausages
  • Uncured, all-natural nitrite- and nitrate-free deli meats such as lean ham

8) Salts and Herbs

  • Sea salt or kosher salt (not table salt)
  • Herbs should be free of additives and artificial ingredients

9) Nuts and Seeds

  • Raw unsalted nuts and seeds
  • Natural or organic unsalted nut and seed butters

10) Sweeteners

Try to limit added sugar intake as much as possible, but when you want a sweet treat or are making dessert, the following sweeteners are CE-approved:

  • Date sugar
  • Raw honey
  • Pure maple syrup
  • Sucanat
  • Stevia
  • Organic evaporated cane juice
  • Cacao nibs
  • Dark chocolate - at least 70%
  • Unsweetened shredded coconut
  • Pure vanilla extract
  • Unsweetened cocoa powder

11) Juices

  • Lemon and lime juice must be fresh and 100% juice
  • 100% fruit juices (not from concentrate)
  • Cold-pressed (preferably homemade) juices made of 100% fruits and vegetables

12) Thickeners

  • Arrowroot
  • Tapioca starch
  • Potato starch

13) Canned and Jarred Ingredients

If buying canned beans or tomatoes, only purchase ones that are available in BPA-free cans. Jarred or boxed tomatoes are also great options. Coconut milk from BPA-free cans are also acceptable.

14) Condiments

Make your own salad dressings and condiments whenever possible, however the following store-bought condiments can be used in recipes. Always read the label to ensure the product contains no added sugars, additives or preservatives.

  • Hot sauce
  • Vinegars (red wine vinegar, balsamic, apple cider, etc.)
  • Dijon mustard
  • Reduced-sodium soy sauce or tamari

15) Miscellaneous Ingredients

  • Unsalted tomato paste
  • Agar agar or unflavored gelatin
  • Low-sodium chicken or vegetable broth
  • Natural liquid smoke
  • Unsweetened dried berries or unsweetened 100% fruit sauce

Learn about what eating clean is, why you should eat clean and find easy-to-follow meal plans.