Are Clean Eating Blogs a Source of Healthy Recipes? A Comparative Study of the Nutrient Composition of Foods with and without Clean Eating Claims
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Food blogs are an increasingly popular source of information about food and nutrition. There is a perception that foods published on clean eating blogs, which promote unprocessed foods, are healthier than comparable foods without these claims. However, foods with these claims and their nutrient composition have not previously been evaluated. The purpose of the study was to describe the nutritional content of clean eating recipes compared to recipes without clean eating claims and the nutritional guidelines published by the World Health Organisation (WHO). Clean eating recipes were systematically selected from 13 popular clean eating blogs and were described and compared with control recipes without clean eating claims. The nutrient profiles from the included recipes were summarised and evaluated against criteria from WHO recommendations for chronic disease prevention and criteria from the U.K. Food Standards Agency. Data for 86 clean eating recipes were extracted that represented five food categories: breakfast, snacks, treats, desserts, and smoothies. These were matched with 86 control recipes without clean eating claims. The clean eating recipes, per portion, provide the equivalent of 15% of daily energy intake. The average serving sizes were not significantly different between clean eating and control recipes. Overall, the clean eating recipes contained significantly more protein (8.1 ± 7.3 g vs. 5.7 ± 4.1 g, p = 0.01), fat (15.8 ± 10.6 g vs. 12.4 ± 9.3 g, p = 0.03), and fibre (5.0 ± 4.3 g vs. 2.8 ± 2.9 g, p < 0.01) per serving than control recipes. There were no significant differences between clean eating and control recipes with respect to the energy (1280 ± 714 kJ vs. 1137 ± 600 kJ, p = 0.16), carbohydrate (31.5 ± 27.3 g vs. 33.9 ± 19.4 g, p = 0.51), sugar (21.1 ± 20.9 g vs. 23.2 ± 14.9 g, p = 0.46), and sodium content (196.7 ± 269 vs. 155.8 ± 160.8, p = 0.23). Less than 10% of clean eating and control recipes met the WHO constraints for proportions of energy from fat and sugar intake. A simulated nutrient profile of an average clean and control recipe shows that nutrients for both are similarly classified as moderate to high in fat, saturated fat, salt, and sugar. Foods with clean eating claims contained the same amount of energy, sugar, and sodium as foods without those claims. Clean eating claims are potentially misleading for consumers who may believe these foods are healthy alternatives, potentially undermining people’s efforts to eat a healthy diet
© 2018 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland. This article is an open access article distributed under the terms and conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) license (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/).