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Top 10 Foods for Clean Eating, Recommended by a Dietitian

You'll want to choose whole, natural foods that aren't over-processed. Here's an RD-approved shopping list!

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Woman at supermarket pushing a shopping cart filled with fresh fruit and vegetables.Stokkete/Shutterstock

The idea of clean eating is pretty straightforward. “Clean eating is about eating more whole foods in their least processed state,” says Michelle Dudash, RDN, author of Clean Eating for Busy Families. She adds that whole foods tend to be higher in nutrients, and have no added sugar or refined oils. Here are 10 clean foods to look for at the supermarket!

(For a meal plan, check out the 7-Day Clean Eating Survival Guide.)

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Coconut lentils with riceTaste of Home

Lentils


These high protein, vitamin- and mineral-dense, fiber-packed superstars are the perfect meal mix-in. (Here’s why I love lentils.) Add ’em to your cold salads, bake into casseroles or even mix into spaghetti sauce. The goal is to eat 1/2 cup lentils 3x a week–which our Tasty Lentil Tacos will certainly help you do.

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A four bowls overflowing with summer berries like strawberries, raspberries, blueberries and blackberries.sematadesign/Shutterstock

Berries


Loaded with phyto-nutrients (cancer-fighting chemicals) and antioxidants, berries are a bright addition to your clean eating plan. See our 38 Healthy Berry Recipes for both sweet and savory ways to bring more berry goodness to the table!

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Anchovies in an opened tin can on woodThomas Ramsauer/Shutterstock

Anchovies


This underappreciated fish is a top source of Omega-3 fatty acids, calcium, zinc and iron. Found in your grocery store near the tuna, anchovies are frequently recommended for anyone on the Mediterranean Diet and definitely a top pick for the clean eating kitchen.

Serve up this Mediterranean-inspired Pasta Puttanesca or a classic Caesar salad.

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Kefir yogurt and chia parfaits.Shutterstock / Stephanie Frey

Kefir


Kefir is a fermented milk beverage, similar to a yogurt drink (and often found in the same refrigerated grocery aisle). But it’s packed with even more beneficial bacteria than yogurt. When blending up a morning smoothie, swap the milk with kefir, or swirl a bit of tartness into your morning oatmeal to add a boost of healthy probiotics.

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Watercress Orange SaladTaste of Home

Watercress


Don’t love kale? Don’t worry–watercress is actually a better green to grab! It’s more easily enjoyed in a salad, too. This popular green is loaded with flavonoids, like lutein, zeaxanthin and beta carotene, which means watercress protects your eyes.

For an easy-to-make meal, whip up a Crab, Grapefruit and Watercress Salad.

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Overnight oatmealTaste of Home

Oats


Chewy oats are dense source of soluble fiber, which is a player in lowering your risk for heart disease. They can be prepared so many ways, being served sweet or savory, but the most popular has to be overnight oats.

Watch Us Make: Overnight Oatmeal

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Egg topped avocado toastTaste of Home

Whole Eggs


You should absolutely be eating the whole egg–yolks and all! Eggs are high in protein, Vitamin D, choline and disease-fighting carotenoids. For a clean addition to any salad, toast or even a burger, here’s how to cook your eggs 5 ways.

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Lemon chia seed parfaitsTaste of Home

Chia Seeds


These tiny black or white seeds are an excellent source of Omega-3 fatty acids and fiber. They’re a nutrition powerhouse, and can be served in your favorite lemonade, topped on oatmeal, stirred into yogurt or blended into your favorite salad dressing. Check out 10 more ways to power up with chia seeds!

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Avocado toastTaste of Home

Avocados


Michelle Dudash, RDN, author of Clean Eating for Busy Families, shared this superfood staple as a clean eating go-to that she enjoys daily. Serve up 1/4 of an avocado sliced on toast, diced onto a salad or mashed and tucked into a wrap.

Here’s a recipe for a simple (but delicious) snack, Classic Avocado Toast.

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Assorted nuts in white bowl on wooden surfaceShutterstock / Malyugin

Nuts

Go nutty for nuts, and opt for a blend. Just 1 ounce of nuts per day has heart-healthy benefits in fighting cardiovascular disease. Nuts, like almonds, walnuts and pistachios are dense in heart-smart fats, and make for a clean addition to salads, oats, yogurt, breading or even spread onto toast, like this Oat Nut Bread.

Wendy Jo Peterson, MS, RDN
As a registered dietitian Wendy Jo touches on the science and facts behind food, but as a gardener and world traveler she savors the classical dishes our great-grandmothers once made. When she’s not in her kitchen, you can find her and her family exploring the US in their campervan, Olaf!

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