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