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4 Foods Messing Up Your Clean Diet

Pro tips for how to eat healthy and what foods you should cut from your diet to clean it up.

Eating clean—AKA consuming minimally processed foods—may sound simple, but as it turns out there may very well be several healthy sounding foods or food groups that could be interfering with your prefered diet. For example, did you know that a whole orange is likely much better for you than drinking a glass of orange juice, which could be packed with high-fructose corn syrup and other added sugars? Or that using spices such as cayenne pepper will help you eat cleaner than if you were to add salt to your meal?

Read on for a list of four foods that could be messing with your clean diet, and get more healthy eating inspiration with these 50 Cheap and Easy Slow Cooker Recipes!

Refined Grains

White bread

Eat This! Instead: Whole Grains

When it comes to grains, whole is the way to go. Why, you ask? Because unlike the refined stuff—white rice, white pasta, and white flour—which is stripped of valuable nutrients in the refining process, whole grains are packed with satiating, heart-healthy fiber and they won't negatively affect your blood sugar or weight the way their whiter counterparts do. In fact, a study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that substituting whole grains for refined grains in the diet increases calorie loss by reducing calories retained during digestion and speeding up metabolism. So if you're on a quest to eat cleaner, ditch the white stuff and stock up on whole grains such as buckwheat, brown rice, and quinoa. Speaking of grains, check out these 30 Quinoa Recipes for Weight Loss if you're looking to stay healthy!


Salt shaker spill

Eat This! Instead: Herbs and Spices

You probably don't pay too much attention to the spice rack when you're cooking, but if you are looking to eat cleaner, then what you use to add flavor to your food could make a world of difference. As a general rule of thumb, avoid adding too much belly-bloating salt to a meal since doctors recommend sodium consumption not exceed more than one teaspoon per day, and cook with more whole ingredients instead of processed ingredients, which are typically already loaded with sodium. Instead of reaching for the granular white stuff, punch of the flavor profile of your food with metabolism-boosting spices such as ginseng and cayenne pepper. Your waistline will thank you.

Saturated Fats

Olive oil
Roberta Sorge/Unsplash

Eat This! Instead: Unsaturated Fats

Saturated fats such as those found in whole milk, full-fat cheese, and butter, are fine in moderation, but overdoing it in the saturated fat department can lead to high cholesterol, an increased risk of heart disease and stroke, and more. However, unsaturated fats—those that are plant-based such as nuts, avocados, and olive oil—are excellent sources of protein, fiber, and other valuable nutrients. What's more? Unsaturated fats have also been found to prevent against certain diseases and ailments. In fact, one study published in the journal Diabetes Care found that a diet high in protein and monounsaturated fat can decrease the risk of cardiovascular disease.

Fruit Juice

Grape juice

Eat This! Instead: Whole Fruit

While you might not thing there's a huge difference between eating a whole piece of fruit and drinking fruit juice, nutritionally speaking the two entities are most definitely not one and the same. Whereas whole fruit contains naturally occuring sugars and fiber that can help counteract the bad effects of too much sweet stuff, fruit juice is often loaded with added sugar (such as high-fructose corn syrup) and no fiber to speak of. According to a study led by Harvard School of Public Health researchers, eating more whole fruits, particularly blueberries, grapes, and apples, was significantly associated with a lower risk of type 2 diabetes. On the other hand, a greater consumption of fruit juices was associated with a higher risk of type 2 diabetes. In other words, if you want to eat clean ditch the straw and pick up an apple instead. Practice more healthy habits with help from this list of 50 Ways to Lose the Last 10 Pounds!