Breaking unhealthy eating habits can be hard, but healthy eating doesn’t have to mean deprivation. Thankfully, there are healthier substitutions that are just as delicious, and far more exciting, making it easier than you think to choose a healthier option! Here are 6 healthy food swaps to try today.
Replace butter for avocado
Did you know butter has around 50% saturated fat?! A diet high in saturated fat can increase our risk of heart disease. The Heart Foundation recommends replacing saturated fats with healthier unsaturated fats, so a good place to start is ditching butter for avocado. Not only is avocado packed with healthy monounsaturated fats, its also a good source of fibre, folate, potassium and Vitamins C and K. Avocado is also incredibly versatile with its ability to replace butter in cakes and desserts, on toast or a sandwich and it even goes well with Vegemite – need I say more?
Switch potato chips for plain, air-popped popcorn
Reaching for the chip packet when those pesky hunger pangs approach can be an easy habit to fall into and it can be hard to stop at just a handful! Did you know that most Australians get 1/3 of their daily energy from ‘junk’ foods? These foods provide us with little nutritional value and are often high in saturated fat, sugar, salt and excess kilojoules (or energy). Plain air-popped popcorn is a delicious and healthier alternative to potato chips – and still provide you with that satisfying crunch! Popcorn is high in fibre and low GI, meaning it will help to keep you fuller for longer and with a sensible portion size, is the perfect snack to keep those munchies at bay.
Trade fruit juice for whole fruit
While guzzling down a glass of fruit juice may seem like an easy way to get your daily serve of fruit, most types of fruit juice naturally contain similar amounts of sugar and kilojoules to that of soft drink. Fruit juice is a concentrated source of sugar, lacks fibre and is all too easy to over consume, meaning it can easily cause blood sugar levels to skyrocket! Swapping fruit juice for a good old-fashioned whole piece of fruit is a great way to increase our daily fibre intake, which helps to keep our bowels regular, lower cholesterol and can help to stabilize blood sugar levels.
Swap white rice for brown rice
Not all carbohydrates are created equally! In short, brown rice is a wholegrain and white rice isn’t, and it’s all in the processing! Brown rice contains all three layers of the grain, which means it’s a nutritional powerhouse, offering loads of fibre, protein, vitamins and minerals. As for white rice, these important nutrients found in the outer layers of the grain are lost during processing. Research has shown that eating three serves of wholegrain foods each day is associated with a 30% reduction in the risk of developing type 2 diabetes!
Exchange a chocolate bar for a healthy sweet treat
Chocolate bars, although tempting, are notoriously high in saturated fat, packed with sugar and can quickly send you on a blood sugar roller coaster! Try satisfying your sweet tooth with a chocolate bliss ball instead. This chocolate alternative not only tastes just as great, but also provides you with a hit of protein, fibre and antioxidants. There are loads of recipes online to suit a range of taste preferences. Now, excuse the pun but this sounds like bliss!
Substitute potato for sweet potato
If you haven’t already noticed, the sweet potato craze is one of the latest food trends to sweep our nation – and there’s more than one reason to make the sweet potato switch! When compared to regular potato, sweet potato rates lower on the glycaemic index, meaning it’s digested slower and has less of an impact on blood sugar levels as a result.
The sweet spud is also high in fibre and a rich source of beta carotene, responsible for its colour! For a healthier version of regular potato fries, try baking some sweet potato in the oven with a small amount of olive oil, and keep the skin on for an extra boost of fibre!
This article was kindly co-written by Melisa Potter a student dietitian from The University of Sydney.