Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Myth: Eating ‘clean’ is healthy.

Woman eating a salad
Answer: Busted

It seems to make sense. Eat "clean" and you’ll be healthier. But is it that simple? Eating "clean" is a popular term now found in popular books, on blogs and in magazines. What does it mean? Unfortunately, there is no clear and consistent definition of "clean" eating. For some, it is a diet and for others it is a method used to make food choices, which reflects their lifestyle.

For some, "clean" eating is choosing minimally processed food. Sounds good, right? For most of us it isn’t practical to eat only minimally processed food because of our lifestyle, the cost of food, our food storage options and food availability. And there is no guarantee that a minimally processed food is healthier for you – it can still contain fat and sugar. For others, "clean" means looking at ingredient labels and choosing foods that don’t contain certain ingredients like sugar or sugar substitutes. If you remove specific foods or categories of foods from your diet in a quest to eat "clean," you run the risk of not getting a nutritionally balanced diet. And rules like this might make eating so restrictive that it’s unrealistic and not enjoyable.

Choosing more fruits and veggies (preferably fresh but frozen and canned are appropriate alternatives), lean dairy and meat with some plant-based options and whole grains provide the wholesome and high-nutrient food choices for good health. And choosing foods with less added sugar, fat and sodium will contribute to your overall good health and well-being.

For more information about healthy eating go to

Contributor: Ellen Schuster, M.S., R.D., Associate State Specialist, University of Missouri Extension,, 573-882-1933

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