Step Up Your Diet with These 4 Food Swaps

Preparing nutritious food is key to a healthy diet. Making time for food preparation is one of the best steps you can take for your health.

Here are some simple swaps to make your diet a little healthier!

1. White Grains (pasta, rice, bread)

Swap it out with: Whole grains (whole wheat pasta, brown rice and whole wheat bread)

You’ve probably heard this advice before, but do you know why? White (refined) grains are simply whole grains with the outer part removed, and that outer part is where all the good stuff (fiber, vitamin B6, magnesium, folic acid, zinc) is!  It’s a lot easier to over-eat refined grains because the fiber (what causes you to feel full) is missing. No need to write off pasta, just make sure to make it whole wheat (and keep your portion reasonable!).


Coloful Fruit Cereal Loops in a Bowl

2. Sweetened breakfast cereals

Swap it out with: Oats

Oats are one of the best foods out there. They are full of soluble fiber which can help keep your cholesterol levels within a healthy range and can help improve insulin sensitivity in those who have type 2 diabetes. Compared to a cup of most sweetened breakfast cereal, oatmeal has more micronutrients and fiber, less sugar, and less calories. A win-win!


3. 70/30 ground meat

Swap it out with: 90/10 ground meat

There is a common misconception that ground turkey is better for you than ground beef. And while ground turkey can be better for you, the amount of fat is more important than the type of meat itself. 70/30 ground meat contains triple the amount of saturated fat than 90/10, regardless of type. A diet too high in saturated fats from animals/animal products can increase your cholesterol levels which puts you at higher risk for heart disease and stroke, so making this swap is a good step for a healthy heart.


4. Fat-free salad dressings

Swap it out with: heart-healthy oils and nuts

Healthy fats in our diet are necessary as they give us energy, absorb vitamins, keep our brains sharp, and play a role in regulating hormones. A fat-free salad dressing is made by removing the oils and adding sugar and lots of additives to help keep consistency. A fat-free ranch dressing has about 11 grams of carbohydrate in it, which is the same as a fun size bag of M&M’s®! So skip the fat-free and choose oil-based salad dressings low in sugar, or add healthy fats like walnuts, avocado or almonds on top for a tasty crunch. Check out these easy, homemade salad dressing recipes.

Elizabeth Bedell

Elizabeth Bedell Marino is a registered and licensed dietitian and the Coordinator for ProMedica Executive Health Program. For her full bio, please click here.