Small changes can add up to big health benefits when you do them consistently. Want to get more nutritional “bang for the buck?” Try these healthy food changes, simple substitutions you can make in your diet to eat healthier. It’s easy to give your diet an upgrade by making these small changes.
Healthy Food Changes: Switch Yogurt for Greek Yogurt
Yogurt is a yummy breakfast food and a guilt-free snack as long as you don’t choose one with lots of added sugar, but you’ll get greater benefits if you switch from traditional yogurt to Greek yogurt. How so? Greek yogurt has almost twice the protein of traditional yogurt and almost half the carbs. Because it’s strained, it has less lactose than traditional yogurt, making it more tummy-friendly for people with lactose intolerance. It’s also thicker and creamier than regular yogurt. Use it as a substitute for sour cream or mayonnaise when making dips, sauces, and tuna or chicken salad. It’s just as creamy – and better for you.
Healthy Food Changes: Switch Mayonnaise and Butter for Avocado
When you make your next sandwich, nix the mayo and use mashed avocado instead. It has a creamy texture like mayonnaise but it’s rich in heart-healthy monounsaturated fats. For even more flavor, use avocado to make guacamole sauce and spread it on a sandwich or use as a dip.
You can also substitute mashed avocado in a ratio of 1:1 for up to half the butter when you bake. This will reduce the amount of saturated fat in your baked goodies. When you do this, lower the baking temperature by 25%. Two tablespoons of butter have around 200 calories. An equal amount of mashed avocado? Only 60 calories. Plus, avocados are a good source of fiber and phytosterols, compounds that help to reduce inflammation. That’s a switch worth making.
Healthy Food Changes: Switch Brown Rice for Quinoa
Brown rice has more fiber than white rice, but recent research shows it has high levels of arsenic. Who needs that? Make the switch to quinoa instead. Quinoa is a seed, although it’s sometimes classified as a whole grain, with a lower glycemic index than brown rice, meaning it won’t spike insulin levels. Plus, it’s rich in fiber, magnesium, potassium, zinc, and folate. Not only is it a good substitute for rice, but it also makes a delicious, protein and fiber-rich breakfast cereal. Just pop it in the slow cooker with water and wake up to piping, hot cereal to start the morning off right. Quinoa is one of the few vegetarian sources of protein with all the essential amino acids.
Healthy Food Changes: Switch Watercress for Lettuce
Get more benefits from your next salad by substituting half the lettuce with watercress. Watercress is a cruciferous vegetable like broccoli, kale, and cabbage. That gives it natural cancer-fighting properties. Plus, it contains a chemical that your body converts to another compound called PEITC that helps your liver detoxify. It’s also a rich source of carotenoids that offers protection against cataracts and macular degeneration, two diseases that destroy your vision. Plus, it has more vitamin C than an orange. One study even showed compounds in watercress reduce damage to DNA that can lead to cancer. Enjoy it raw for the most health benefits.
Healthy Food Changes: Switch Almond Butter for Peanut Butter
Skip the packaged peanut butter with added salt and sugar you find at the supermarket. Head over to a natural food store and use the grinder to make fresh almond butter. Almond butter has 25% more vitamin E than peanut butter does. Vitamin E is important for protecting cell membranes against free radical damage. Plus, it contains more bone-building calcium than peanut butter and is richer in heart-healthy monounsaturated fats. Yet it still has that deliciously, nutty flavor that makes you want to spread it on a whole grain cracker and pop it in your mouth.
Healthy Food Changes: The Bottom Line?
Give your diet some variety and get more health benefits by making these easy switches. Who says change isn’t good?
FDA.gov. “FDA’s Analysis of Arsenic in Rice and Rice Products”
World’s Healthiest Foods website.
Am J Clin Nutr February 2007 vol. 85 no. 2 504-510