10 Simple Food Swaps for a Healthier Diet

Getting to a healthier you doesn’t have to happen overnight. You can give your taste buds time to adapt by making a few simple food swaps at a time. We’ve identified 10 easy swaps to help you trim added sugar as well as boost fiber, good-for-you fats, vitamins and minerals.

1. Swap Fruit Juice for Fresh Fruit

Heard that you need to slash back on added sugar? You’re doing yourself zero favors by pouring a glass of juice. Juicing strips fruit of its fiber, which helps keep you regular and prevent your blood sugar from spiking. Did you know, gram-for-gram, orange juice squeezed from a fresh piece of fruit contains almost as much sugar as cola? Instead of drinking your fruit, stick to a wholesome piece of fruit!

Orange Juice (100 grams) Cola (100 grams)
Calories 45 Calories 42
Carbohydrates (g) 10.4 Carbohydrates (g) 10.4
Fiber (g) 0.2 Fiber (g) 0
Sugar (g) 8.4 Sugar (g) 9.9

Source: USDA Nutrient Database

2. Swap White Bread for 100% Whole-Grain Bread

Swapping white bread for 100% whole-grain or whole-wheat bread can help you reach your fiber goal because each slice contains 2+ grams of fiber. Why focus on the F-factor? If you’re like most Americans, you average a paltry 15 grams of fiber daily when the recommended goal is 20-30 grams of fiber daily.

White Bread (1 slice) 100% Whole Wheat Bread (1 slice)
Calories 77 Calories 81
Carbohydrates (g) 14.3 Carbohydrates (g) 13.7
Fiber (g) 0.8 Fiber (g) 1.9
Sugar (g) 1.6 Sugar (g) 1.4

Source: USDA Nutrient Database

DID YOU KNOW? White bread is a refined carbohydrate made with flour stripped of its original nutrients, so it has to be enriched with vitamins and minerals.

3. Swap Margarine for Avocado

Margarine had its heyday during the low-fat diet craze as butter’s better brother, which contains more saturated fat. Even so, margarine contains artificially produced trans-fat. This spells heart trouble because trans-fat has been shown to raise your LDL-cholesterol (aka “bad” cholesterol) and lower your HDL-cholesterol (aka “good” cholesterol). Instead of margarine, try mashed avocado on your toast for creaminess that doesn’t pack excess fat. The fat that comes with avocado is mostly good-for-you unsaturated fats.

Margarine (1 tablespoon) Avocado (1 tablespoon)
Calories 101 Calories 23
Fat (g) 11 Fat (g) 2
Saturated Fat (g) 2.36 Saturated Fat (g) 0.3
Trans Fat (g) 2 Trans Fat (g) 0
Unsaturated Fat (g) 8.5 Unsaturated Fat (g) 1.7

Source: USDA Nutrient Database

Tasty Recipes to Try:

4. Swap White Potato for Sweet Potato

Cooked potatoes (read: not French fries) are a great source of potassium, but there’s always room for improvement. Sweet potato is more nutritious than the typical spud because it has just as much potassium while still packing in more vitamin A and fiber. A quarter cup of baked sweet potato easily meets 200 percent of the vitamin A you’ll need for the whole day!

White Potato (100 grams) Sweet Potato (100 grams)
Calories 97 Calories 90
Carbohydrates (g) 21.4 Carbohydrates (g) 20.7
Fiber (g) 2.43 Fiber (g) 3.3
Sugar (g) 1.1 Sugar (g) 6.5
Potassium (mg) 550 Potassium (mg) 475
Vitamin A 0% Vitamin A 384%

Source: USDA Nutrient Database

Tasty Recipes to Try:

5. Swap Iceberg Lettuce for Leafy Greens

Iceberg lettuce may be popular, but this bland vegetable is a far cry from nutrient-rich leafy greens like spinach, baby kale and romaine. In an effort to define “powerhouse” status, the Center for Disease Control (CDC) scores fruits and veggies by how nutritious they are. Based on this scoring system, spinach, kale and romaine rated at 86, 49 and 63, respectively. Iceberg lettuce rounds out the bottom at 18!

Tasty Recipes to Try:

6. Swap Sour Cream for Greek Yogurt

Looking for a tangy, creamy topping that won’t set you back? Instead of topping your tacos with a dollop of sour cream, use whole-fat, plain Greek yogurt.

Sour Cream (30 grams) Greek Yogurt (30 grams)
Calories 59 Calories 29
Fat (g) 5.8 Fat (g) 1.5
Saturated Fat (g) 3 Saturated Fat (g) 0.7

Source: USDA Nutrient Database

Tasty Recipes to Try:

7. Swap Sugar for Cinnamon

You can cut down on sugar in your baking adventures and still get all the sweetness you need by sprinkling in some cinnamon. If you regularly add sugar into your morning coffee, try replacing some of that with cinnamon instead. Not only are you saving on empty calories, but cinnamon has also been shown to potentially help with Type 2 Diabetes.

Tasty Recipes to Try:

8. Swap Boxed Cereals for Oatmeal

Breakfast cereal may energize you in the morning but you can hit a sugar crash by lunchtime with a sugary variety. Cereals like Froot Loops and Apple Jacks contain over 40% sugar by weight! Choosing oatmeal allows you to trim sugar from your diet and helps you sneak in more fiber to your day. One packet of instant oats (about 28 grams) contains up to 3 grams of fiber.

Tasty Recipes to Try:

9. Swap Milk Chocolate for Dark Chocolate

Chocolate should be enjoyed in moderation (think: a square at at time), and if you have the choice, go for dark chocolate that’s at least 60% cacao. The cacao part of chocolate is where you’ll get most of your nutrient-bang. One ounce of dark chocolate that has 60-69% cacao contains 17% of your daily value (DV) for copper, 12% of your DV for magnesium and 10% of your DV for iron. Dark chocolate also contains more theobromine, an antioxidant that can reduce inflammation and blood pressure.

Tasty Recipes to Try:

10. Swap Ice Cream for Homemade Banana Ice Cream

Don’t cry over overripe bananas! Make ice cream out them. If your ice cream eating habits keep you from hitting your health goals, frozen bananas are a great swap. Bananas are naturally sweetened so you don’t have to add more sugar. You can try making this one-ingredient banana ice cream, or if you’re lazy like me, just chop up bananas and place them in the freezer overnight.

Do you have another great food swap you’d like to share? Please add it in the comments below!

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