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Healthy Shopping List: What Foods are Best For Clean-Eating?

8 mins read
Ievgeniia Dobrynina
Fact checked by Ievgeniia Dobrynina
Ievgeniia Dobrynina

Fact checked by Ievgeniia Dobrynina

Ievgeniia Dobrynina is the Head of Nutrition and a fact checker at Unimeal.

The Unimeal team works to give you the most accurate and up-to-date information. All texts are reviewed by a panel of experts and editors and updated according to the latest research. Only evidenced-based and verified sources of leading medical publications and universities get into the article materials.
Rashida Ruwa
Written by Rashida Ruwa on November 07, 2022

It's no secret that eating well is the key to a happy, healthy life. But for many of us, when it comes to clean eating, knowing what to eat and what to avoid can be incredibly overwhelming. The clean-eating diet is a modern lifestyle choice that has been proven to have many health benefits.

Table of content

While the diet can seem restrictive at first, it's actually very simple and easy to follow. So, we've created a clean eating diet food list you can use as your guide when navigating the grocery store aisles or cooking at home. Whether you're looking to prepare a simple snack or something more substantial for dinner, this list will help you find just what you need.

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Clean eating diet for beginners

Clean eating is a diet that focuses on consuming whole foods while avoiding processed foods and refined sugars. The goal of this diet is to eat foods that are as close to their natural state as possible. While this may seem like a lot of work, clean eating can be incorporated into your everyday life and doesn’t have to be a major change.

The ultimate clean eating food list

It is easier to plan meals when all the ingredients are already in the kitchen. Here is the ultimate food list that you can use to start your clean eating diet:

Dry Goods

  • Brown rice
  • Steel cut oats
  • A mix of grains, including quinoa, wild rice, barley, and buckwheat
  • Low sugar granola
  • A mix of healthy pasta, including whole wheat pasta, chickpea pasta, vermicelli, and quinoa pasta
  • Rolled oats
  • Healthy bread like whole grain, sourdough, or rye
  • Whole grain crackers

Canned Goods

  • Tomatoes (crushed, diced, roasted, sundried)
  • Legumes, including black beans, chickpeas, and lentils
  • Corn
  • Canned tuna and wild-caught salmon
  • Unsweetened coconut milk
  • Chicken or vegetable broth

Nuts and Seeds

  • Nuts (almonds, walnuts, pistachios, pecans, hazelnuts, etc.)
  • Seeds (pumpkin, sunflower, chia, ground flax, hemp, etc.)
  • Nut butter (peanut, almond, cashew, walnut, etc.)
  • Seed butter (tahini and sunflower)

Oil, Sauces and Dressings

  • Oil ( extra virgin olive, avocado, coconut)
  • Sauces (soy sauce, pasta sauce, naturally sweetened ketchup, naturally sweetened BBQ sauce, and hot sauces)
  • Dressings (apple cider vinegar, balsamic vinaigrette, honey mustard, and coconut cream dressing)

Herbs and Spices

  • Herbs (basil, oregano, parsley, thyme, and rosemary)
  • Spices (black pepper, turmeric, cinnamon, chili powder, cayenne pepper, cumin, curry powder, ground ginger, paprika, and red pepper flakes)

Snacks

  • Rice crackers
  • Popcorn
  • 80% or 90% dark chocolate
  • Low-sugar granola and energy bars
  • A mix of healthy chips like kale chips and plantain chips

Bakery

  • Spelt flour, whole wheat flour, buckwheat flour, oat flour, and rye flour
  • Grain-free flours like almond flour, cassava flour, and coconut flour
  • Dark chocolate chips
  • Coconut sugar
  • Maple syrup
  • Honey
  • Medjool dates
  • Dried fruits (dates, berries, raisins, cranberries, etc.)
  • Shredded coconut

Dairy

  • Dairy-free milk like almond, oat, soy, rice, cashew, or coconut
  • Greek or Icelandic yogurt
  • Healthier cheese like feta, parmesan ricotta, and cottage cheese
  • Plant-based yogurts like coconut or almond
  • Eggs

Vegetables

  • Artichoke
  • Asparagus  
  • Beets
  • Bell peppers 
  • Broccoli
  • Brussels Sprouts
  • Cabbage
  • Cauliflower 
  • Cucumber
  • Eggplant
  • Kale
  • Mushrooms
  • Peas 

Fruits

  • Apples
  • Avocados
  • Bananas
  • Blueberries
  • Grapefruit
  • Pineapple
  • Mango
  • Pears
  • Peaches
  • Oranges

Fermented Foods

  • Miso paste
  • Kefir
  • Fermented vegetables like onions and carrots
  • Kimchi
  • Sauerkraut 
  • Kombucha

Freezer

  • Organic poultry
  • Grass-fed beef
  • Fish like salmon, cod, and tuna
  • Frozen bread and tortillas
  • Frozen vegetables like stir-fry blends, spinach, and peas
  • Frozen fruits like peaches, raspberries, and mangos

Extras

  • Herbal teas like peppermint and chamomile
  • Matcha powder
  • Fish oil
  • Probiotic supplement
  • Coffee

Meat, Seafood, Protein

  • Meat (beef, pork, and lamb)
  • Seafood (salmon, crab, prawns, lobster, shrimp, and sardines)
  • Protein (tofu, tempeh, organic poultry, and dried legumes)

Foods to Avoid

You'll want to avoid a few foods while following the clean eating diet. Here are some of them and why they're no good for you:

Foods that contain trans fats (fried foods)

Trans fats are often used in restaurants and fast-foods because they give foods desirable taste, they are inexpensive and easy to use. Oils with trans fats change rarely in commercial fryers. According to the American Heart Association, eating trans fats can increase your risk of developing heart diseases, stroke and diabetes. Also trans fats raise your bad (LDL) cholesterol levels and lower your good (HDL) cholesterol levels.

Deli meats

Chemical preservatives like nitrates and nitrites are often used in deli meats. 2020 study showed that they could increase the risk of colorectal cancer. But there are healthy options as well - preservative-free meats derived from poultry ( turkey and chicken breast). Compared to beef or pork delis, poultry ones have less saturated fat content and calories per serving.

Cut down or give up alcohol

It's no secret that alcohol consumption has nothing to do with a healthy lifestyle. Alcohol has almost the same calories per gram as pure fat. It may increase the risk of diabetes, may cause cardiovascular disease, and increase blood pressure.

The Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends that adults of legal drinking age can choose not to drink or to drink in moderation by limiting intake to 2 drinks or less in a day for men or 1 drink or less in a day for women.

Sugar-sweetened drinks

Sugar-sweetened beverages, which include the full spectrum of soft drinks, fruit drinks, energy and vitamin water drinks, are composed of naturally derived caloric sweeteners such as sucrose, high fructose corn syrup, or fruit juice concentrates. Collectively they are the largest contributor to added sugar intake in the US diet. If consumed regularly, they can also lead to obesity, diabetes, and other metabolic disorders.

Processed foods

They are full of preservatives, chemicals, and other additives designed to keep them looking fresh and appealing longer than they probably should, making them unhealthy for your body.

Simple ways to follow clean eating diet

When you start a clean eating diet, you want to do it right. That means buying only the best ingredients and preparing them at home. Here are some simple ways you can follow this diet:

  • Take stock of what you already have in your cabinets and pantry and review the ingredients on your food labels, try to avoid anything with added sugars or sodium like ‘’100% Natural” on their labels, these are usually made without artificial ingredients.
  • Stock up on fresh fruits and vegetables. The more colorful, the better. You can always find them at farmer's markets or local grocery stores with an aisle dedicated just for produce like whole foods.
  • Stock up on staples. You'll want to keep a well-stocked pantry full of whole grains, nuts/seeds, herbs, spices, etc.
  • Buy whole foods that are local and in season, as well as organic, whenever possible.
  • Cook your meals at home instead of buying pre-made items from restaurants or grocery stores to avoid processed foods and additives.

Let's summarize

Generally, clean eating is a diet that focuses on eating natural ingredients and whole foods free of artificial ingredients and preservatives. This diet consists of lean protein, whole grains, fruits and vegetables, healthy fats, and dairy products. While the list of foods you can eat is pretty long and delicious, there are also some foods you should avoid, such as highly processed food products.

How do you feel about my article?

Unimeal does not diagnose or suggest treatments. Any description of the diet, training plan or supplement should be discussed with your current physician or nutritionist. This article does not address specific conditions and is simply meant to provide general information on healthcare topics. Following any advice is at your own initiative and does not impose any responsibility on the blog authors for your health and safety.

Sources:

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By choosing high-quality sources, we make sure that all articles on the Unimeal blog are reliable and trustworthy. Learn more about our editorial processes.

1.
Suman Ambwani,Gina Sellinger, Kelsey L. Rose,Tracy K. Richmond and Kendrin R. Sonneville. 7 June 2020. “It’s Healthy Because It’s Natural.” Perceptions of “Clean” Eating among U.S. Adolescents and Emerging Adults Nutrients 2020. DOI:10.3390/nu12061708
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Keller, Rosa M. BS; Beaver, Laura PhD, MS; Prater, M. Catherine; Hord, Norman G. PhD, MPH, RD. 2020. Dietary Nitrate and Nitrite Concentrations in Food Patterns and Dietary Supplements. Nutrition Today. DOI:10.1097/NT.0000000000000253
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Vasanti S Malik, Frank B. Hu. 2012. Sweeteners and Risk of Obesity and Type 2 Diabetes: The Role of Sugar-Sweetened Beverages. Current Diabetes Reports DOI:10.1007/s11892-012-0259-6.