6 Smart Food Swaps to Upgrade Your Diet

You probably want to eat a healthier diet, but the intimidation factor of overhauling your entire gastronomic routine to get on one of the trendy diet plans may be getting in your way. 

Many of these other ways of eating have proven to be beneficial, but you don’t have to throw out everything in the pantry and start from scratch to level up your nutrients and get on track to a healthier way of life. 

Try substituting a few foods or ingredients for something that has a little more nutritional oomph and you’ll be surprised by the extra energy and clarity you experience, and you could drop a few pounds, too! 

Swap out salt for herbs and spices
Sodium is one of the hardest ingredients to avoid in processed food, but it increases our risk for high blood pressure and heart disease by retaining enough water to tax our circulation system. Try cooking with turmeric, cinnamon, garlic, ginger and other healthy seasonings that transform your food in ways salt never can.

Ditch sugary and highly processed cereals at breakfast
Try oats as oatmeal or in one of its many other formats with fruit or a small amount of honey. You can also bring more veggies into breakfast by sneaking them into your oatmeal, frittatas, tacos or omelets. Carrots, zucchini, onions, tomatoes, spinach, arugula and so many more can find a place on your plate.

Replace Refined Grains with Whole Grains or Greens
White bread may be about as American as you can get, but nutritionally that may not be such a good thing. When you need to wrap something around the innards of a sandwich, find a whole-grain pita or loaf of bread or try lettuce or kale for the ultimate guilt-free pleasure! 

Forego processed and red meats for lean sources of protein
Fresh or canned fish, fresh chicken or turkey breast with the skin removed and all manner of beans and legumes are much healthier sources of protein, which builds muscle mass and immunity among other things. Look closely at plant-based burgers or meat substitutes as these tend to be highly processed.

Drop cheesy or creamy sauces and gravies for vegetable-based options
It’s likely going to be tough to part with your alfredo sauce or sawmill gravy, but the difference can be huge! For one example, a half-cup of a basic store-bought marinara sauce carries about 80 calories with about 4 grams of fat and 420 milligrams of sodium, while the same amount of an Alfredo sauce can pack 120 calories or more, with 9 grams of fat and 740 milligrams of sodium.

Switch soda and energy drinks out for coffee and tea
When looking for that caffeine boost, turn to these beverages that naturally bring you high concentrations of antioxidants including catechins and chlorogenic acids. They’re both calorie- and sugar-free (but watch what you add to them), while sodas and energy drinks have little to no nutritional value even without sugar.