Vowing to eat healthier doesn’t mean you need to partake in a strict food regimen or drastically overhaul your diet. You’re more likely to successfully alter your eating habits if you integrate small, but effective, changes to your diet on a daily basis. For example, you can make simple ingredient swaps to your meals, which will cut unwanted fat and calories, while adding more fruits, vegetables, nuts, and whole grains to your dishes. Whether you want to use citrus juices in place of salt or substitute Greek yogurt for sour cream, here are five simple ingredient swaps that will make your meals healthier.
1. Whole-wheat for refined grains
Don’t let refined grains like white bread, pasta, and rice sabotage your suppers. Joy Bauer notes that these grains are stripped of bran and germ — the healthiest parts of the grain —during the refining process, resulting in a product that’s missing many of the nutrients it once had. Using whole-wheat products in place of white flour-based foods is a great way to give your meals an instant nutrient boost. “You’re getting fiber, a healthy plant-based protein, vitamins, minerals, and a variety of phytochemicals that will improve your health,” Lilian Cheung, DSc, RD, a lecturer in nutrition at the Harvard School of Public Health, told Health.
The United States Department of Agriculture states that whole grains are important sources of several B vitamins, iron, magnesium, and selenium, and regularly consuming them may reduce your risk of heart disease and help with weight management. To begin incorporating more whole grains into your meals, Mayo Clinic suggests replacing white rice with kasha, brown rice, wild rice, or bulgur, and adding whole-grain bread crumbs or cooked brown rice to ground meat or poultry for a healthier breading alternative. In addition, pasta dinners are instantly improved when you use whole-wheat noodles in place of white pasta, like Fitness does in this recipe for Italian Sausage and Veggie Pasta.