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10 Healthy Food Swaps Experts Say Could Change Your Life

The next time you hit the supermarket, keep these slimmed-down substitutions in mind. With these healthy food swaps from our registered dietitians, you'll cut back on calories and fat.

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Unpopped popcorn in white ceramic bowl isolated on painted white wood from above. Spilled popcorn.; Shutterstock ID 664547797; Job (TFH, TOH, RD, BNB, CWM, CM): Taste of HomeMoving Moment/Shutterstock

Buy: Whole kernel popcorn
Forget: Microwave popcorn

How long has it been since you popped popcorn on the stove? With a heavy saucepan, a small amount of oil and a few minutes, you can have popcorn seasoned your way without all the salt, artificial flavors and coloring that show up in some microwave versions.

Try whole kernel popcorn now.

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Raw Organic Steel Cut Oats in a Bowl; Shutterstock ID 267494765; Job (TFH, TOH, RD, BNB, CWM, CM): Taste of HomeBrent Hofacker/Shutterstock

Buy: Raw steel-cut oats
Forget: Instant oatmeal packets

Piping-hot oatmeal can be a comforting start on a chilly morning, but the cost of those quick-and-easy instant packets adds up. They also contain additives and sugar. Instead, get the real thing. Top your steel-cut oats with one of these surprising ingredients for a more nutritious breakfast.

Try steel-cut oats now.

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Plain Yogurt in wooden bowl on wooden background with pink cotton and spoon, Health food from yoghurt concept; Shutterstock ID 556732294; Job (TFH, TOH, RD, BNB, CWM, CM): Taste of HomeDONOT6_STUDIO/Shutterstock

Buy: Plain yogurt
Forget: Flavored yogurt

Not only do you pay more for a few mushy berries swirled in your yogurt, you’re also paying for added sugar, high fructose corn syrup and food coloring. Instead, pick up some plain yogurt and add your own fresh fruit for sweetness and additional nutrients. It will also cost you less in calories.

Have fun dressing up plain yogurt and get your daily dose of fruit all in one with this good-for-you fruit salad.

Try plain yogurt now.

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mexican nachos tortilla chips with guacamole, salsa and cheese dip; Shutterstock ID 756416779; Job (TFH, TOH, RD, BNB, CWM, CM): Taste of HomeOlga Miltsova/Shutterstock

Buy: Baked chips with salsa
Forget: Potato chips and dip

When a craving for crunchy hits, don’t reach for a bag of salty chips and fatty dip. Instead, enjoy fresh homemade salsa and baked chips. One ounce of baked chips plus ¼ cup salsa contains fewer than 130 calories and has only 3 grams of fat. The same amount of regular chips and dip packs on nearly 300 calories and a whopping 20 grams of fat.

Try baked tortilla chips now.

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Fresh baby spinach leaves in bowl on wooden background; Shutterstock ID 1022814211; Job (TFH, TOH, RD, BNB, CWM, CM): Taste of HomeSunny Forest/Shutterstock

Buy: Baby spinach
Forget: Iceberg lettuce

Think all leafy greens are created equal? While spinach and iceberg offer about the same calories and fiber cup for cup, you don’t have to settle for a lackluster salad. Instead, dig into a spinach salad that’s loaded with far more vitamins and minerals. Spinach is a good source of vitamins K, A and C, plus folate and magnesium.

Want to learn more about more varieties of greens? Check out our Lettuce 101 guide.

Try baby spinach now.

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Portion of uncooked Wholemeal Fussili on wooden background; Shutterstock ID 220746949; Job (TFH, TOH, RD, BNB, CWM, CM): Taste of HomeHandmadePictures/Shutterstock

Buy: Whole grain pasta
Forget: Regular pasta

You don’t have to give up on this dinnertime fave just because you’re trying to eat better. Instead, make a smarter choice with whole wheat pasta dishes (like this one-pot spaghetti), which can have three times as much fiber per serving as plain pasta. (Buy types with 100% durum whole wheat flour.)

Try whole grain pasta now.

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fresh raw bream fish fillets, top view; Shutterstock ID 510234850; Job (TFH, TOH, RD, BNB, CWM, CM): Taste of HomeMaraZe/Shutterstock

Buy: Fresh or frozen fish fillets
Forget: Breaded frozen fish

Fish is high in protein and low in calories and can be a reliable source of heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids. But those handy breaded or sauced frozen fish products may be high in calories and fat. Instead, buy fresh or plain frozen fish fillets and season them with your own breading or herbs. You’ll love one of these quick-to-fix fish recipes on a busy weeknight.

Try frozen fish fillets now.

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Butter, bread and a knife isolated on a wooden background; Shutterstock ID 325175198; Job (TFH, TOH, RD, BNB, CWM, CM): Taste of HomeMarietjie/Shutterstock

Buy: Tub margarine
Forget: Stick margarine

If you’re watching your cholesterol and intake of saturated fats, you might have switched to stick margarine. Think you’ve made a change for the better? Possibly not. Instead, make a real difference and switch to margarine in a tub. It has one-third the trans fat of stick margarine. Compare labels to find the brands lowest in fat. (Psst: Did you know that some margarine used to be pink? Find out why!)

Try tub margarine now.

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Homemade yogurt or sour cream in a rustic bowl; Shutterstock ID 369768824Fortyforks/Shutterstock

Buy: Plain Greek yogurt
Forget: Sour cream

Sour cream is a cool and creamy way to temper the heat in your favorite Mexican dishes. And who can resist a dollop on a baked potato or a bowl of spicy chili? Unfortunately, sour cream is high in saturated fat and calories. Instead, substitute healthier Greek yogurt for sour cream. It boasts a thick and creamy consistency and is high in protein, calcium and vitamin D. Reach for Greek yogurt the next time you need to make a fabulous dip for a party. And bakers, rejoice: It even works in baked goods like muffins and cakes.

Try Greek yogurt now.

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Quinoa in bowl from top view background with space; Shutterstock ID 720434374; Job (TFH, TOH, RD, BNB, CWM, CM): Taste of Homeeverydayplus/Shutterstock

Buy: Quinoa
Forget: White rice

White rice is a refined starch. While it’s easy to digest, it’s high on the glycemic index, so it’s not an optimal choice if you’re trying to watch your weight or your blood sugar. Try replacing white rice with quinoa. Most famous for packing in the protein, quinoa also contains a wealth of fiber and minerals. One cup of cooked quinoa has about 40 fewer calories than the same amount of rice. Added bonus? Like rice, quinoa is gluten-free. Check out delish quinoa recipes that use this superstar seed.

Try quinoa now.

Note: Every product is independently selected by our editors. If you buy something through our links, we may earn an affiliate commission.

Amy Glander
Amy is a book editor at Taste of Home where she gets to pour her passions for food and storytelling into trade and series cookbooks. When she’s not writing or editing, you’ll find her antiquing, cooking and baking from her favorite vintage cookbooks and exploring Milwaukee’s urban beauty with her digital SLR in hand.