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10 Simple Substitutes for Healthy Eating

Private: Kathy McManus, MS, RD, LDN
Contributor Kathy McManus, MS, RD, LDN

When it comes to healthy eating, small changes can make a big difference.

“Many people become overwhelmed when thinking about changes in their diet,” says Kathy McManus, MS, RD, LDN, Director of the Department of Nutrition at Brigham and Women’s Hospital. “The fact is that simple food substitutions can have major benefits, including fewer calories, less cholesterol, and more stable blood sugar levels. These changes often lead to weight loss and lower your risks for heart disease, diabetes, cancer, and other diseases.”

Tips for healthy food substitutes

To make recipes healthier for you and your family, try these ten simple substitutes:

1. Use applesauce instead of oil when baking. Try substituting applesauce for half the oil requested in cake and brownie recipes. You’ll cut down on calories without losing flavor or texture.

2. Eat brown rice instead of white rice. Brown rice has more fiber and nutrients than white rice. The fiber also makes it more filling.

3. Use egg whites instead of whole eggs. Swap ¼ cup of egg substitute or two egg whites for each egg in a recipe to cut calories and cholesterol.

4. Choose multigrain or whole wheat pasta instead of white pasta. Some pastas also have Omega-3 fatty acids, an added benefit.

5. Select low-fat cheese over full-fat cheese. There are many delicious reduced-fat cheeses that reduce calories and saturated fat without compromising flavor.

6. Use fat-free yogurt instead of sour cream to cut calories and saturated fat and leave you feeling better about your meal.

7. Try fresh herbs and spices instead of salt and salt-based herbs. You’ll leave behind the sodium and add new flavor to your meals. If you can’t use fresh herbs, dried herbs and spices are great alternatives.

8. Choose skim or low-fat milk over cream for cream-based soup recipes or when baking to reduce calories and fat.

9. Select whole wheat flour over all-purpose flour to increase fiber in your recipes.

10. Use ground turkey, ground chicken, or extra-lean ground beef in chili, burgers, meatballs, meatloaf, and lasagna to save on calories and fat.

Interested in additional tips and ideas for healthy eating? Access our healthy recipes.

Private: Kathy McManus, MS, RD, LDN
Kathy McManus, MS, RD, LDN

Kathy McManus, MS, RD, LDN is Director of the Department of Nutrition and the Director of the Dietetic Internship at Brigham and Women’s Hospital. In addition, she serves as the Director of Nutrition and Behavior Modification Programs for the Program for Weight Management.

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Get more tips on eating well and learn about the many benefits of good nutrition. Read more nutrition articles.