How many of you remember that time of harsh parental discipline when as a child you were forced to eat broccoli or your most disliked food just because they say that it is good for health?
It has always been a message of eat this, it’s healthy from our parents, science, doctors, that neighbor anti, and the guy on YouTube.
Mostly, the importance of healthy eating does not cross our minds. If at all, the only concern is of some extra fats around the waistline, and this we handle with the exercise or through the bliss of ignorance.
Bethenny Frankel, a famous TV personality used to say,
Your diet is a bank account. Good food choices are good investments.
Things that we eat have an impact in the long run, and that is why we need to do some healthy food swaps. Instead of sending a general disquisition your way, this article aims to convey in a friendly tone that what simple food swaps can prove healthy for you.
15 food swaps for a healthy eating
You turn into a better person when you have good food on the plate – and I don’t mean pasta or waffle, I mean healthy food. Check out these food swaps that are simple, easy, and delicious.
1. Grilled chicken instead of fried chicken
A pan full of hot oil and a food low in fat content, when combined together result in food that has more cholesterol, higher calories, and of course, great taste. We all know that deep frying the food ups the fat and calories; is there a better alternative?
Take an example of a fried chicken breast piece. Every 226 grams of this fried chicken piece has 590 calories, 20 grams of carbohydrates, and 29 grams of fat. This data is in accordance with the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Nutrient Database.
Whereas, the same piece of chicken when grilled on rotisserie contains 417 calories and 18 grams of fat. The grilled chicken is also high in protein content as compared to the fried piece.
Occasionally eating deep fried food won’t do disasters, but keep it to the bottom of your healthy list. Prefer grilled chicken.
2. Yogurt instead of sour cream
An old food item, yogurt has been in use for more than 4000 years. It easily makes to the list of healthy eating and comes with health benefits such as reduced risk of heart diseases and osteoporosis. Whereas, sour cream is not much popular for healthy eating.
As yogurt is created from milk, it has good calcium content. One cup of yogurt contributes to more than 45 percent of your daily calcium requirements. Those of you who don’t like milk can try yogurt. It is probably not an equivalent alternative, but then something is better than nothing.
Yogurt has good amounts of proteins, vitamin B12, riboflavin, magnesium, phosphorus, and vitamin D. All in all it has numerous health benefits. With some effort, you can swap sour cream with yogurt for a healthy eating.
3. Oatmeal instead of cereal bar
Grains are essential parts of our food, and oats are considered one of the healthiest grains on our planet. It is true that cereal bars are promoted as high nutrient food products that are best for busy people, but cereal bars contain high levels of sugar and saturated fats.
Oatmeal (steel-cut oat), on the other hand, takes just 15 minutes to cook and is a healthy substitute for cereal bars. Take a look at the nutritional value of oats.
Oats are also a good source of fiber and antioxidants.
4. Brown rice instead of white rice
We mostly fill our plates with white rice while brown rice carriers the tag for a healthier option. White rice loses the fibrous bran and nutrient-rich germ during the refining process. Whereas, brown rice is a whole grain and retains all parts. Brown rice is a healthier option because of more fiber, vitamins, minerals, and anti-oxidants. See the difference:
- 100 grams of brown rice has 1.8 grams of fiber
- 100 grams of white rice has 0.4 grams of fiber
Brown rice also reduce the risk of heart diseases and obesity. All you need to do is replace white rice with brown rice.
5. Figs instead of cookies
If you ever had the experience of baking cookies, you do realize that they are high in sugar. However, they taste so good that one cannot resist them.
How bad can one cookie be?
Pretty bad. One leads to two, and two eventually leads to an empty pack of cookies.
To find a healthier alternative, we need something as sweet and tasty as a cookie.
What about figs?
They are natural, full of nutrition and have significant health benefits, and they also have a sweet taste.
Figs have low calories and zero fat. They have fiber and calcium – which cookies badly lack. You can have variety with figs. Eat them fresh or in dried form.
6. Green tea instead of energy drinks
National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH) states that most energy drinks have high levels of caffeine. A 24-oz of energy drink may contain caffeine levels equaling 4 cups of coffee. Large amounts of caffeine can cause heart problems.
There is little evidence that energy drinks improve strength and power; they may, however, temporarily increase the alertness.
A better alternative is green tea. It does not contain as much caffeine as we have in coffee or energy drinks, but it sure can improve your brain function. It also lowers the bad cholesterol in your body.
7. Dark chocolate instead of white
The delicious white chocolate that is full of sugar is hard to avoid, but dark chocolates are a better alternative. They are sweet and full of health benefits. Dark chocolates are a rich source of antioxidants and have potential cancer-fighting properties.
Flavonoid-rich dark chocolates have shown to improve heart circulation in a healthy population. It is suitable for cholesterol profile and improves the cognitive function. Swap your dairy milk chocolate with the dark chocolates.
8. Berries instead of donuts
A round donut sprinkled with sugary content is a perfect eye candy, but donuts are made from refined flour that lack the fiber content; they have sugary toppings that add some bad calories to your box of donuts. You need to give up on bakery products for a healthier eating.
A natural, yet toothsome alternative is berries.
Berries are one of the healthiest food items. They are loaded with antioxidants that protect you from cellular damage. Berries have good amounts of fiber, something that aids your digestion. They are a good source of vitamin C and K.
Want to know the caloric content of berries?
- One cup of strawberries has 49 calories.
- One cup of blueberries has 84 calories.
The best part is that this low caloric food can actually be incorporated into almost all types of diets including paleo, vegan, Mediterranean, and vegetarian diets.
9. Lemon water instead of fizzy drinks
It is common for us to find out the health benefits of all kinds of foods, yet lemon water remains unpopular. More importantly, it is difficult to renounce your fizzy drink dependence. Let us find out the health benefits of lemon water and see if we can replace fizzy drinks with this alternative.
What is the name of that inexpensive drink that contains good amounts of vitamin C, aids in digestion, and beautifies your skin?
Correct; it’s lemon water. If you avoid adding heaps of sugar, it can do wonders.
Lemon water can help in
- Weight loss
- Energy boost
- Skin healing
It is the best alternative to fizzy drinks. Just make sure you buy some lemons on your way back home.
10. Avocados instead of butter
A bad choice for your heart health, butter has been under a bad label since the time it was linked to high saturated fats. People shifted to margarine as a better alternative. However, the truth is that there is no good evidence for margarine being a better food choice.
Instead of butter or margarine, why not spread avocados on your morning bread slices? They are incredibly nutritious. The rich flavor and soft texture of this fruit makes it a favorite item in most food preparations.
Avocados have high levels of potassium that is good for healthy blood pressure and contain heart-healthy monosaturated fatty acids.
While it is okay to use butter in moderation, but you still need to reduce the intake. Consider avocados instead.
11. Spinach instead of iceberg lettuce
The myth of iceberg lettuce being useless in regards to nutritional value is both old and untrue. It does have some nutritional value, but nothing compared to spinach.
Spinach is rich in niacin and zinc, and has low-fat content. You get proteins, all sorts of vitamins, fiber, iron, calcium, folate, copper, phosphorus, and much more. Spinach also has different plant compounds that have multiple health benefits. Seems like Popeye was right about spinach.
12. Green salad instead of chef’s salad
The green salad makes an excellent item on your healthy eating list. Chef’s salad, on the other hand, contains Swiss cheese, eggs, roasted beef, and turkey. These ingredients make it a high caloric food. Not that it should be avoided at all cost, but it is not a good choice for your daily salad intake.
A green salad is packed with fiber, vitamins, antioxidants, and minerals. Researchers have found multiple pieces of evidence that show low risk of diseases as a result of eating lots of fruits and vegetables. Green salad, therefore, is a better alternative to chef’s salad.
13. Air-popped popcorn instead of chips
While chips are great in taste, they are low in nutrition and high in calories. There are around 223 calories and 221 mg of sodium in a typical 1.5-ounce chips packet.
It is okay to have chips snack once in a blue moon, but do not allow yourself a frequent consumption. French fries, potato chips, hash browns and any other form of potato preparation that require frying pan are generally considered a bad food choice.
Experts specifically warn against chips because of their high acrylamide and sodium content. Acrylamide has unknown health consequences, and potato chips have the highest amount of this chemical.
Instead of chips, try popcorns that are rich in fiber, antioxidants, and whole grains. Use air-popped popcorns instead of microwave popcorns.
14. Frozen banana instead of ice cream
If you find yourself craving for ice creams every other day, a frozen banana is a better option. It is cold, natural, full of nutrients, and an economical option. Bananas improve your digestion and are good for your heart health.
Ice cream is a high caloric, dense energy food. It cannot be referred to as healthy, but an occasional indulgence is not that bad.
15. Hard-boiled eggs instead of fried eggs
Eggs are the kind of things that can form babies. They contain a little of almost all the nutrients that are important to our health. Eggs have high cholesterol, but that contributes to healthy fat.
We can consume eggs in multiple forms, boiled eggs being the best in nutritional values. Eggs when fried with cooking oil or butter, have higher fat content. It is, therefore, better to opt for boiled eggs.
Food swaps are not a difficult thing if we consider our diet and embark on a journey to healthier eating. We tend to perform better when we feed ourselves with the best food. Try the 15 food swaps mentioned in this article and see for yourself the benefits of healthy eating.