10 Food Swaps to Make Today, According to a Dietitian – Health News Hub

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Think you need a total diet overhaul to eat healthier? Think again. In truth, better nutrition often comes down to four simple words: Swap this for that.

“Whether you’re trying to lose weight, lower your cholesterol, or have better controlled blood sugars, subtle food swaps can be a great way to improve your health,” says Dana Purcell, RD, a registered dietitian with the Hartford HealthCare Digestive Health Institute seeing patients in Fairfield and Wilton.

Here are her top 10 food swaps.

5 swaps for kitchen staples

  • White bread: Swap with whole grain bread. Whole grain products have more fiber, vitamins and minerals than white grains, and also support healthy weight and cholesterol levels.
  • Chicken thighs with skin: Swap with boneless, skinless chicken breast. By choosing a leaner protein, you cut back on saturated fats. “With the right seasonings and preparation, it can still be packed with flavor,” says Purcell.
  • Store-bought creamy salad dressing: Swap with homemade dressing (oil, vinegar, balsamic, lemon juice). Typically, premade dressings are loaded with unhealthy extra ingredients. By preparing your own, you’ll have less saturated fat, trans fat and sugar.
  • Sour cream: Swap with nonfat plain Greek yogurt. Plain Greek yogurt tastes similar to sour cream, and contains less fat and extra protein. “Try it out as a topping next time you have tacos or chili,” suggests Purcell.
  • Mayo: Swap with avocado. Mayo is filled with saturated fats (less healthy), while avocado is an excellent source of unsaturated fats (healthier). “If you’re a fan of tuna, chicken or egg salad, try swapping out the mayo with avocado,” says Purcell.

> Related: 4 Ways to Speed Up Your Metabolism

5 swaps for beverages, snacks and desserts

  • Soda: Swap with seltzer. Keep the bubbles, lose all the extra sugar and chemicals.
  • Fruit juice: Swap with whole fruits. You’ll get more fiber and less sugar.
  • Chips and crackers: Swap with raw veggies like cucumbers, carrots or peppers. “This is great if you need something crunchy to snack on,” says Purcell. “For added flavor, sprinkle fresh veggies with salt and pepper or dip them in hummus.”
  • Oil or butter in baking: Swap all or some with apple sauce. In many recipes, this is an easy way to cut back on fats.
  • Butter in baking: Swap some with banana. This is another baker’s secret to reduce fat without sacrificing flavor. Note: “This often works best when used with another type of oil,” says Purcell.

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General tips for impactful food swaps

First, beware of packaged products, even when they claim to be low-fat, light or sugar-free.

“When an ingredient like sugar or fat is removed form a packaged product, it’s replaced with other ingredients that may not be much better for you,” says Purcell. “Sometimes it’s best to stick with the original item and focus on the serving size.”

Finally, remember that you don’t have to say goodbye to all your favorite treats.

“The best strategy for a healthy diet is to find a balance between all foods,” says Purcell. “You can still eat those foods that provide less nutrition. Just focus on portion control and moderation!”

To put it in swapping terms: Simply swap more for less.

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