From the editors of Women’s Health; Photography by Freepik
Well, this was a bit of an eye-opener!?
So, these are the “clean” foods you’ve been happily eating — but should actually pay attention to, because you’re probably stocking up on the wrong variety! Prepare to be just a little bit shocked…
1. Tinned spinach
Sure, a tin of spinach is far from junk food and may still provide some health benefits – but you’re going to lose out on taste and texture and add a lot of unwanted sodium to your diet. While frozen is cleaner, it has less vitamin C than a fresh bunch. A bag of fresh spinach retains most nutrients and is far more versatile: use it to prepare quick soups and salads, saute and use as a base for your protein, or blend some up in a smoothie.
2. Conventional beef
These animals spend much of their life in cramped factory pens, where they’re fattened up on a diet of non-organic grains and often given growth hormones and antibiotics. Conventional beef contains far fewer omega-3s and more cholesterol and saturated fat than grass-fed and organic. Not great for your ticker! While organic beef is clean (no hormones or antibiotics), most are fed a diet of organic grain, which diminishes the nutritional profile of their meat. Your best bet is 100 percent grass-fed beef — they graze only on pasture and so the meat retains its nutrients.
3. Farmed salmon
While farmed (Norwegian) salmon has health benefits, they are far more likely to be exposed to persistent organic pollutants (POP) than fish that have lived their lives in a natural environment. POP have been associated with obesity, diabetes and cancer. Tinned wild salmon is clean and gives you an omega-3 fatty acid boost, but wild Alaska salmon is by far the cleanest, with fewer kilojoules, a significantly lower fat content and a heart-healthy omega-3 punch!
4. Caged eggs
These babies are best avoided. Not only are they less nutritious than pasture-raised eggs, studies show that they have higher levels of salmonella than eggs from organic and cage-free hens. This is because lots of hens kept in cages in cramped quarters generate more waste, which attracts more disease-carrying insects and rodents. Cage-free eggs are clean, but unless they’re raised organic, cage-free hens are fed grains made from crops heavily treated with pesticides. Your cleanest option: organic free-range. These contain two-and-a-half times the omega-3s and twice as much vitamin E as ordinary eggs.
5. Baked beans
Sure, they’re delish and may be perfect for an occasional treat, but, as a rule, pass on the baked beans. They contain added sugar (some as much as 12g per 150g), salt, fat and preservatives. Pre-cooked beans are clean and provide protein and fibre, but you’ll end up consuming heaps of salt and, in the case of tinned varieties, you could expose yourself to the chemical BPA (linked to cancer). Always choose beans in cardboard packaging or bottles! Cleanest: dried beans — they’re rich in soluble fibre, higher in cancer-fighting isoflavones and rich in ligans, which help prevent heart disease and osteoporosis. Soak overnight to reduce prep time.
6. White rice
Your typical white rice isn’t unhealthy, but its nutritional value simply doesn’t begin to measure up to wild or brown rice. Brown is clean and packs a dose of fibre, but your very best bet is wild rice, which contains protein, fibre, folate, manganese, zinc, magnesium, phosphorus, niacin and iron — whoa! Plus: It’s way lower in carbs than brown rice.
7. Conventional peanut butter
Most conventional nut butters have added salt, sugar and vegetable fat. Non-organic nut butters can contain pesticides and other synthetic ingredients. Plus, plastic jars may contain potentially dangerous chemicals that could leak into your food. Those with no added sugar and salt are much better (just make sure you choose a glass jar, not plastic), but your cleanest option is organic, 100 percent pure — a bit more pricey, but worth it!
8. Normal store-bought salad dressing
Most of these are loaded with added sugar, sodium, artificial colourings and preservatives. They may also contain trans fats, in the form of partially hydrogenated vegetable oils, which are linked to heart disease. Organic or non-GMO dressings are cleaner — just look out for a sugar content less than 5g per 35ml. And pick one that has some fat — it helps to absorb the nutrients in your veggies. Ultimately, though, our first choice is homemade dressing. Go for a vinaigrette of olive oil (full of anti-inflammatory monounsaturated fats) and apple cider vinegar (it can slow the rise of blood sugar, reduce cravings and improve insulin sensitivity).
Excerpted from Women’s Health Eat Clean Get Lean Volume 2