20 Better-for-You Food Swaps to Make Right Now

20 Better-for-You Food Swaps to Make Right Now

These smart food alternatives will keep you feeling healthy and more satisfied.

By: Maressa Brown

When it comes to eating right, it’s easy to just stick to what you know. But that can set you up for boredom, which might backfire and lead to snacking on junk. Eek! Thankfully, there are numerous better-for-you alternatives to many food staples. Making a swap can not only preempt diet monotony, but it may also help you be healthier. Here are 25 healthier food choices you can make ASAP.

1. Instead of milk, choose Greek yogurt. Skipping low-fat milk and grabbing non- or low-fat Greek yogurt can make you feel much more satiated, as yogurt has almost double the amount of protein (generally 14 grams vs. 8.5 per cup).

2. Instead of orange juice, choose an orange. A cup of OJ contains 24 grams of sugar, which is double the amount you’ll get out of simply eating an orange. Plus, the whole fruit offers 3 more grams of filling fiber.

3. Instead of crackers, choose apple slices. Apple slices may not be exactly the same as crunchy wheat crackers, but if it’s crunch you’re craving, the swap is worth a shot. And it’ll save you the 200 mg sodium that adds up in five wheat crackers.

4. Instead of milk chocolate, choose dark chocolate. Nothing wrong with a little bit of chocolate, but you’re better off going with the dark variety, which has half the sugar of the milk variety. Limit yourself to 1 ounce a day.

5. Instead of a cinnamon roll, choose cinnamon raisin toast. OK, so it’s not dripping in ooey-gooey icing, but you can have two slices of toasted raisin bread plus light cream cheese sweetened with a teaspoon of powdered sugar to save big on calories, fat, and sugar.

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6. Instead of a quesadilla, choose tortilla soup. If you need a Tex-Mex fix, go for a bowl of tortilla soup, which has 60 percent less fat and calories than a quesadilla. And because it has high water content, it will get you full faster.

7. Instead of spaghetti, choose udon noodles. These Japanese noodles are made from whole wheat, so they have 40 percent more fiber.

8. Instead of rice, choose a baked potato. You might think these two carby sides are equally “bad,” but the potato has three times more fiber than the rice.

9. Instead of diet soda, choose coffee. If it’s a caffeine boost you’re looking for, you’re better off heading to a cafe instead of the vending machine, because at least coffee has antioxidants.

10. Instead of corn tortilla chips, choose bean chips. Though the two varieties usually have about the same amount of fat (roughly 7 grams a serving), you get more satiating bang for your buck if your chips are made predominately out of beans. Some brands have as much as 4-5 grams of fiber and protein per ounce.


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11. Instead of couscous, choose quinoa. Couscous can’t even begin to compete with its super-grain competitor’s 8 grams of protein per cooked cup.

12. Instead of hummus and pita, choose hummus and red bell pepper slices. Not only will your snack be lower in carbs, but you’ll get a nice dose of the antioxidant beta-cryptoxanthin, which may help prevent lung cancer.

13. Instead of a doughnut, choose a croissant. If it’s pastry you’re craving, picking a butter croissant over a doughnut can save you 16 grams of sugar or more.

14. Instead of white flour, choose whole wheat. Whether you’re baking up a batch of cookies or a loaf of bread, using 100 percent whole wheat flour can help you keep blood sugar stable, considering that it’s much lower on the glycemic index (51 vs. 71) than the white variety.

15. Instead of butter, choose olive oil and vinegar. The bread basket at a restaurant is a temptation few of us can resist, but consider skipping the butter and opting for heart-healthy olive oil and vinegar to feel fuller after your meal, thanks to acetic acid in vinegar that stabilizes blood sugar.

16. Instead of iceberg, choose spinach. We always hear that the greener, the better, and spinach is no exception. It’s full of vitamin K, vitamin A, calcium, and iron.

17. Instead of peanut butter, choose almond butter. Both pack a protein punch, but the latter has more vitamin E. One tablespoon offers about 27 percent of your daily requirement of the free radical-neutralizing vitamin.

18. Instead of sugar, choose a spice (like cinnamon). If you just need a bit of extra flavor for anything from coffee to pancakes, subbing in a spice for the sweet stuff can save you big on calories and sugar grams.

19. Instead of mayo, choose mustard. The yellow stuff is naturally fat free and adds just the right kick to your sandwich.

20. Instead of fried eggs, choose hard-boiled. We may think eggs need to hit the skillet to be suitable for breakfast, but you’ll cut out a good deal of fat -- and grease -- by going the hard-boiled route.

Which of these swaps do you make already? Which do you want to start making?

Maressa Brown is a senior staff writer for The Stir. She loves writing about and reading up on health/fitness, relationships, and pop culture -- preferably on a beach somewhere.

Image ©iStock.com/gollykim

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