Clean Eating Ingredient Guidelines September 2, 2020 07:08 8 Comments

1) Healthy fats

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

  • Olive oil
  • Extra-virgin olive oil
  • Coconut oil
  • Organic unsalted butter (preferably grass-fed)
  • Organic ghee
  • High-oleic safflower oil
  • Sunflower oil
  • Grape seed oil
  • Avocado

2) Flours and grains

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

  • Breads
  • Tortillas
  • Pastas
  • Rice
  • Flours
  • Ancient Grains such as quinoa
  • Soba noodles
  • Cornmeal
  • Bread crumbs (or panko)

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 for a list of best choices).

6) Produce

Purchase organic vegetables and fruits on ‘The Dirty Dozen’ list ( 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 is 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

Written by Clean Eating Authors for Clean Eating Magazine and legally licensed through the Matcha publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to