Tips for Cleaner Nutrition
Cleaner Produce – Each year, the Environmental Working Group singles out produce with the highest loads of pesticide residues for their “Dirty Dozen List” and the produce least likely to contain pesticide residue for their “Clean Fifteen List” (1). These lists can serve as a guide for helping consumers choose which produce are most important to seek out organically to reduce pesticide exposure. Whenever possible, choose organic versions of produce on the Dirty Dozen List, and feel a little better about purchasing items on the Clean Fifteen List that aren’t organic.
2018 Dirty Dozen List (1)
- Sweet bell peppers
2018 Clean Fifteen List (1)
- Sweet Corn
- Frozen Sweet Peas
Fewer Additives – With over 10,000 additives allowed in foods (2), how do you know which are good for you and which you should avoid? Here are a few practical tips to help you on your way:
- Read the ingredient list. If the ingredients contain natural food ingredients that are good for you (and that you can pronounce), the food product is most likely an acceptable choice. Try to steer clear of sugar and trans-fats.
- While the list of additives you may want to avoid is extensive, the Environmental Working Group has created a “Dirty Dozen Guide to Food Additives” much like the Dirty Dozen List. The additives on this list are associated with serious health concerns, restricted in other countries and deemed the worst offenders by the EWG. Rather than being overwhelmed avoiding all potentially harmful additives, focus on avoiding the additives on this list:
EWG’s Dirty Dozen Guide to Food Additives (2)
- Nitrites and Nitrates
- Potassium Bromate
- Propyl Paraben
- Butylated Hydroxyanisole (BHA)
- Butylated Hydroxytoluene (BHT)
- Propyl Gallate
- Secret Flavor Ingredients
- Artificial Colors
- Phosphate Food Additives
- Aluminum Additives
- Pull up the EWG’s Food Scores database and search for your food or a food you are thinking about buying. The food will be scored by EWG on a scale of one to 10 (one being the best score and 10 the worst) based on its nutrition, ingredient concerns (pesticides, food additives, contaminants, antibiotics) and degree of processing. Check it out for yourself at https://www.ewg.org/foodscores.
- Sticking to “whole” food products with as few ingredients as possible will help you avoid the additives you don’t want. Here are a few tips when choosing whole foods:
While the term “whole” food means different things to different people, in general, reach for the products that are as close to their natural state as possible and contain the least additives. For example, a baked chicken breast is a better whole food choice than a chicken nugget because it has not been altered as much as the nugget, will have fewer ingredients and is closer to its natural state. The same can be said about choosing a baked potato over a potato chip and steamed veggies over vegetable juice.
When shopping for whole foods, stick to the outside aisles of your supermarket. In general, more processed foods are grouped in the inside aisles, while whole foods like fresh meat and produce can be found displayed on the outside aisles. Shopping at your local farmer’s market is another great way to find fresh, whole foods. Cooking at home as much as possible helps you to control the ingredients in your food. In addition, shopping at your local farmer’s market, cooking at home and choosing foods with less processing reduces your carbon footprint and lends to a healthier planet.
Our Simple Superfood Formulas will help guide you through making your own whole food meals.
- Environmental Working Group, EWG’s 2018 Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides in Produce, Accessed November 13th, 2018, <https://www.ewg.org/foodnews/summary.php>
- Environmental Working Group, EWG’s Dirty Dozen Guide to Food Additives, Accessed November 13th, 2018, <https://www.ewg.org/research/ewg-s-dirty-dozen-guide-food-additives>