When it comes to our daily food intake, many of us are on autopilot. We buy, prepare and eat the same food week after week. Thinking of cleaning out your pantry and starting fresh? Starting today, you can make BIG changes with just a few strategic ‘food swaps’. Some simple substitutions can help you lose weight, lower cholesterol or increase your energy level. Here are a few suggestions to get you started:
FRUIT SWAPS Instead of oranges, bananas or grapes—try berries instead. Blueberries, strawberries, raspberries and blackberries are lower in sugar than many other fruits. Also, a recent Harvard study found that young women who eat blueberries and strawberries have a reduced risk of heart attack.
EGG SWAPS Not a fan of egg whites? You can still have egg dishes—try taking just one yolk out of your two-egg omelette and you’ll enjoy the same taste while saving 5 grams of fat and 59 calories.
BREAD SWAPS Making whole-wheat toast instead of bagels or muffins can save you at least 250 calories a day! Make sure the label says “100% whole grain” or that “whole-wheat” is listed as the first ingredient. According to research in the journal Nutrition, Metabolism & Cardiovascular Diseases, increasing your daily consumption of whole grains to 2.5 servings from .2 servings can lower your risk of cardiovascular disease by 21%.
SNACK SWAPS Instead of potato chips, eat pistachios. Research in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition and at Penn State concluded that eating pistachios daily reduced the risk of cardiovascular disease by significantly reducing LDL (bad) cholesterol levels. Also, pistachios are a great source of fiber, vitamins, and potassium.
OIL SWAPS Instead of cooking vegetables with oil, you can steam vegetables in microwave bags without adding water or oil. If you simply must use cooking oil, then substitute your palm or corn oil for olive oil cooking spray or use a cooking spray mister. Olive oil has some “good” fat; in fact, the FDA states that 2 tablespoons of olive oil daily “may reduce the risk of coronary heart disease.” Or, consider the benefits of coconut oil. A 2009 study showed that women who consumed two tablespoons of coconut oil a day for 12 weeks avoided gaining weight and lowered their abdominal fat.
MEAT SWAPS Instead of steak, give wild salmon a try. Wild salmon is an excellent, low-fat source of protein and gives you high concentrations of omega-3 fatty acids. The American Heart Association and many studies have documented the health benefits of a diet rich in omega-3 fatty acids and their role in guarding against heart disease and Alzheimer’s.
Drink water! We keep saying this because you probably don’t drink enough. Even mild dehydration can make you tired. Water is a great substitute for soda, juice, sport drinks and coffee. Replace at least one beverage a day with a glass of iced water. It will keep you hydrated and moving throughout the day.