Saturday 18 November 2017

Swap it! Ten healthy substitutes for the food you love

Woman watching television in kitchen
Woman watching television in kitchen

The most difficult thing about pursuing a healthy lifestyle is the feeling that you are being deprived of the foods you love.

Fear not, there is a healthy substitute for everything. Replace the foods you love with these healthy options and keep food as something you enjoy.

If you have any other substitutes, let us know in the comments below:

1. Swap bananas for blueberries

"Berries are significantly lower in sugar than bananas. They are also extremely rich in antioxidant and anti inflammatory phytonutrients which have powerful anti ageing benefits," explains nutritionist Kim Pearson.

"Plus," says Dalton Wong, "as we're at the height of the berry season, it also means you'll get the maximum amount of vitamins and minerals out of them right about now too."

Woman holding fresh blueberries

2. Swap diet drinks for sparkling water

"Diet drinks may have low calories but again perpetuate the desire for sweet tasting things later," explains nutritionist Ian Marber (some studies have shown we subconsciously make up for those empty calories that our body has expected from a sweet tasting drink naturally). "Have fizzy water with a generous squeeze of fresh lime juice instead," he says.

"Fresh lime also gives you the added benefit of a vitamin C boost," says Pearson.

3. Swap nuts for seeds

Remember, not all nuts are made equal. As Pearson explains, "some are roasted and salted making them a less healthy option - and peanuts can contain goitergens, a substance known to inhibit thyroid function."

"Swap from nuts as a snack to mixed seeds (sunflower, sesame and pumpkin are particularly good). They are easier to digest for many, while being more dense in minerals including magnesium which 75 per cent of women are estimated to be low in," explains nutritionist Henrietta Norton .

4. Swap coffee for green tea

"Caffeine may give you a short term jolt but green tea contains the antioxidant catechin, which actually helps with longer term weight loss," says Pearson.

If you've already made the green tea leap of faith take it a step further and try oolong tea, "the taste is creamy and more similar to black tea but contains even more health and weight loss boosting properties than green tea," explains Norton.


5. Swap low fat yoghurt for plain yoghurt

"Flavoured yogurts may be low fat but it simply means they contain sugar and sweeteners which can encourage you to want more sugary food - have plain low fat and add fresh fruit instead," advises Marber

6. Swap milk chocolate for organic dark chocolate

"Most chocolate bars are high in sugar and come with zero nutritional value. However, dark chocolate is naturally lower in sugar - a small bar of Green & Blacks dark chocolate contains less than half the sugar of your average KitKat. Dark chocolate has also been shown to increase blood flow to the brain as well as to the heart, so it can help improve cognitive function and reduce the risk of stroke," says Pearson.

7. Swap fruit smoothies for green smoothies

"Keep smoothies green to boost the rejuvenation of the body," says Norton. Try green veg blended with avocado (for the vitamin A, E and monounsaturated good fats), coconut milk (rich in lauric acid which is antimicrobial & antibacterial properties for digestive health), a teaspoon of linseed or flaxseed oil (rich in omega 3 & 6) and mixed berries (rich in anthocyanidins which have antioxidant properties as well as supporting circulation). This is an excellent skin tonic too."

"And stick to 'smoothies', rather than 'juices' which typically have no skin or fibre in them," says Marber.

smoothie with fruit and vegetables

8. Swap sweetener for stevia

"Artificial sweeteners have been linked with a number of health concerns - it's claimed that aspartame has 92 potential side effects - from skin rashes to depression. Stevia on the other hand is a completely natural leaf extract containing no carbohydrates or calories. Studies show that stevia could also help lower blood pressure in individuals with elevated blood pressure," explains Pearson.

9. Swap table salt for coloured salt

"A little salt is fine for you," explains Wong, "but make sure it's Himalayan pink salt or grey Celtic Sea Salt; both still contain essential minerals." A study by the University of Gratz in Austria also linked Himalayan crystal salt to better sleep, concentration and energy levels.

10. Swap white for wholemeal

Ditch the white sliced pan and instead invest in a wholemeal or wholegrain. You'll feel the difference straightaway.

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