Ten healthy alternatives to the 'bad' foods we love.
Whether you want to lose weight or boost your health, there are many small changes you can make to your diet to achieve these results. To help cut out the bad stuff without compromising on taste, check out our top 10 healthy food swaps.
Porridge instead of cereal
Packaged breakfast cereals may look like a healthy option, but most cereals are laden with sugar. Not only does this add to the overall calories consumed, but it can lead to a mid-morning sugar slump that will have you craving more. Instead, start your morning with a bowl of low-GI porridge - it's a good source of slow-release energy that will fill you up quicker and keep you feeling full for longer.
Pure fruit spread instead of jam and preservesIf you prefer to start your mornings with a few slices of toast, it may be worth replacing jam and marmalades for a healthier spread. Most fruit jams are packed with added sugars or chemical sweeteners, but pure fruit spreads are sweetened only with sugars that occur naturally in fruits. Because of this, they deliver the same sweet taste only with fewer calories and no artificial additives.
Maple syrup instead of sugar
Although all sugars are high in calories and should be consumed in moderation, pure maple syrup is a healthier option than refined sugars. Refined sugars are stripped of nutrients, but maple syrup is packed with minerals, including manganese, calcium, magnesium, iron, potassium and zinc, as well as antioxidants. Maple syrup also has a lower GI than table sugar.
Popcorn instead of potato chips
In terms of health, most chips don't have much going for them. They're high in saturated fats, calories and salt, and have almost no nutritional value. Craving a salty snack between meals? Try a bowl of plain or lightly seasoned popcorn. You'll give your body a boost of antioxidants, nutrients and fibre, and save yourself about 8g of fat and 50 calories per 25g serving.
Go for fruit, not snack bars
Many people believe that cereal, nut and fruit bars are the perfect between-meals snack. However, as with so-called healthy cereals, many of these bars are actually packed with cane sugar, corn syrup and saturated fat. In fact, cereal bars can contain as much fat, sugar and calories as a chocolate bar or a few biscuits. If you fancy a sweet snack between meals, have a piece of fruit and save yourself more than 100 calories.
Choose kumara instead of potatoes
Although spuds contain several nutrients, sweet potatoes may be a better option for those watching their weight. Potatoes are high on the glycemic index, so can lead to energy slumps and cravings, but kumara are a complex carbohydrate with a much lower GI ranking. Sweet potatoes are also packed with minerals and vitamins including antioxidant beta-carotene. Try swapping your jacket spud for a baked sweet potato, and fries for sweet potato wedges.
Extra virgin olive oil instead of vegetable oil
Extra virgin olive oil is one of the healthiest oils around because of its high monounsaturated fat content and antioxidant properties. The monounsaturated fats ("good" fats) in olive oil can help with weight loss, help control cholesterol levels and lower your risk of heart disease. Use it in place of vegetable oil for salad dressings and low- to medium-heat cooking.
Quinoa instead of couscous
As with potatoes, there is nothing wrong with couscous in itself, but by swapping the processed grain of couscous for quinoa you could benefit from a far more nutrient-dense and waist-friendly meal. Quinoa is not only less processed, gluten-free and a good source of slow-release energy, it is a much better source of fibre and one of the best plant sources of protein. It's packed with nutrients, including iron, phosphorous, magnesium and zinc.
Home-made sauces instead of ones in jars
Most pre-made sauces are heavily processed, packed with unnecessary sugars and salt, and contain chemical preservatives to keep them fresh.
Rather than filling your cupboards with jars and bottles, try making your own sauces from chopped tomatoes, herbs, spices and a variety of fresh vegetables. You'll skip all the nasty additives and extra calories and help boost your intake of essential vitamins, minerals and antioxidants.
Frozen dessert instead of icecream
Icecream may be one of the most popular desserts around, but the frozen treat is extremely high in sugar and fat.
Try swapping icecream for a bowl of low-fat frozen yoghurt. Or try a sugar-free fruit sorbet or dairy-free icecream alternative. Not only are these easier to digest, they are usually purer and lower in saturated fats and refined sugars.
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