How to Eat Clean: The Best (and Worst) Clean Eating Foods

How to Eat Clean: The Best (and Worst) Clean Eating Foods

Author: Millennia TEA’s Official Science Steeper, Allison Tannis, MSc RHN

Looking for a neat list of foods to eat clean may be harder to find than you think – clean eating isn’t actually a tidy affair. Some dirty problems can arise. But, with this know-how, including the best foods to include, learning how to eat clean can be easy. Come mop up some of these helpful facts and start enjoying eating clean. 

What is Clean Eating?

Clean eating is a trendy diet idea that encourages more whole foods than processed ones. Taking out the so-called dirty foods isn’t such a bad idea: convenience and processed foods tend to be high in sugar, salt, and fat. The consumption of convenience foods has been shown in research to be harmful to health. 

6 Tips to Eating Clean, Backed by Science

  • Eat more whole foods – nutrient-rich to support health.
  • Shrink the number of processed foods you buy - linked to poor health
  • Eat lots, don’t restrict - restrictive diets can be harmful, warn experts
  • Build sustainable eating patterns - make changes you can stick with
  • Avoid the Dirty Dozen – whenever possible choose these foods in organic formats
  • Enjoy the Clean Fifteen – grown typically with fewer pesticides 

Is It Safe to Eat Clean?

The idea of eating “clean” is based on nutritional evidence that whole foods provide the body with a lot of nutrients it needs to be at its best. Eating clean includes whole foods and products with short, simple ingredient lists. That’s a pretty broad and wide range of foods. Broad choices are important otherwise diets can become restrictive, unhelpful, and increase the risk for eating disorders. 

How Do You Start to Eat Clean? 

It’s easy to start eating clean. A few easy changes to your daily routine will do:

  • Add fruit to your breakfast oats or try making a smoothie
  • Stack more veggies on your sandwich at lunch
  • Serve up more salads with your dinner 

If you’re already enjoying lots of fruits and vegetables, there’s more you can do to clean up your eating habits, such as tossing extra greens in your favourite soup, stew, or curry recipes.

Is Clean Eating Good for Weight Loss?

Most trendy diets start with promises of weight loss. Whether this diet is effective for weight loss, evidence is still needed. Studies have found clean eating tends to lead to less consumption of processed foods, and more plants, meats, and alternatives. Similar eating patterns, such as the Mediterranean diet, are known to support health and weight management.

The Best Clean Foods to Eat

Everyone should eat plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables, according to dietary recommendations around the world. But, making this switch can be dirty! Changing from a Western diet to eating clean has been found to increase insecticide, organophosphate and pyrethroid exposure as some produce have high pesticide residues. Research suggests there may be negative impacts on health to consuming pesticides. Seeking fresh produce with low pesticide residues, or buying organic versions are the best clean foods to eat. Here are the best and worst foods, if you’re trying to eat clean.

12 Clean Food Sources (The Dirty Dozen)

Whenever possible, the Environmental Working Group suggests choosing organically grown:

  • Apples
  • Bell & hot peppers
  • Cherries
  • Celery
  • Grapes
  • Kale, collard & mustard greens
  • Nectarines
  • Peaches
  • Pears
  • Spinach
  • Strawberries
  • Tomatoes

Of note, beyond the first dozen, are potatoes, blueberries, cherry tomatoes, winter squash, lettuce, cucumbers, tangerines, green beans, plums, broccoli, eggplant, and raspberries.

The Clean Fifteen

According to the Environmental Working Group, the following list is produce typically sold with low residues of potentially harmful pesticides. 

  • Avocados
  • Sweet corn
  • Pineapple
  • Onions
  • Papaya
  • Sweet Peas
  • Asparagus
  • Honeydew Melon
  • Kiwi
  • Cabbage
  • Mushrooms
  • Cantaloupe
  • Mangos
  • Watermelon
  • Sweet Potatoes

What’s Organic? 

Organic produce was grown without synthetic chemicals or fertilizers, genetic engineering, radiation, or sewage sludge. A product that is certified organic is verified to meet these standards. 

Millennia Tea is Organically Certified

To ensure it’s the purest and most natural, antioxidant tea anywhere, Millennia Tea is organically certified and screened for pesticides, heavy metals, and coliforms. 


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The dirt on clean eating: a cross sectional analysis of dietary intake, restrained eating and opinions about clean eating among women. Nutrients 2018 Sep; 10(9): 1266.

Diet and food type affect urinary pesticide residue excretion profiles in healthy individuals: results of a randomized controlled dietary intervention trial. Am J Clin Nutr 2021 Oct 27; 115(2): 364-377.