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Healthy Substitutes of Common Foods - Overview


It is possible to make healthier versions of most of your favorite foods, by making some intelligent substitutions. Once you get used to the healthier version, you may not even like the original version any more. For example, most people who make the switch to whole wheat or multigrain bread, no longer like to have the regular white bread.

For the foods that you cook yourself, you need to be aware of the ingredients that are not healthy and substitute them with healthier ingredients. Additionally, you may also be able to modify the cooking method, e.g. pan frying or roasting instead of deep frying. It is even possible to make the healthier version tastier than the regular version.

If you are buying prepared foods, make it a habit to choose the healthier versions. The trick is to look at the ingredients and choose the version with healthier ingredients.

If you are eating in a restaurant, you can not only choose healthier version from the menu, but also give special instructions to make a healthier version of the dish that you order.

Use Healthier Substitutes for Food Ingredients

Here are some general guidelines for substituting some of the common food ingredients with healthier ingredients:

·  Replace oils rich in saturated fat (such as butter, ghee, lard, margarine, palm oil, etc.) with oils rich in unsaturated fats and low in saturated fats (such as olive oil, canola oil, mustard oil, rice bran oil).

·  Replace red meats (beef, mutton, pork) with white meats (chicken, turkey) or fish or soya products (textured soya protein/soya granules, tofu) or beans.

·  Replace refined flours with whole grain flours, and polished grains with unpolished ones.

·  If a recipe requires sugar, try eliminating it. Or reduce the quantity substantially and use brown sugar or honey instead of white sugar. If you do need strong sweet taste, use sugar substitutes such as stevia or sucralose.

·  If a recipe requires salt, try eliminating it. Or reduce the quantity substantially and use spices such as garlic or onion to enhance the taste. You may also use low sodium salts.

·  Replace full fat dairy products with zero fat or low fat versions.

·  Replace eggs with egg whites, particularly if consuming more than one egg in a day.

·  Replace canned fruits/vegetables/beans with fresh fruits/vegetables/beans.

For a list of common ingredients and their healthy substitutes, Click Here.

Choose Healthier Cooking Methods

Consider modifying the cooking method used in your recipes as per the following guidelines:

·  If the recipe requires deep frying, try using pan frying with very little oil (and use a healthy oil), or baking/roasting/grilling with no oil or very little oil.

·  Try steaming as a method of cooking instead of frying. If you add spices to steam cooked foods to enhance the taste, you may not miss the fried taste.

Choose Healthier Versions of Prepared Foods

Take a close look at the ingredients and follow the following guidelines for making a healthier choice:

·  If it contains trans fats and or high amount of saturated fats, avoid it. Choose a substitute with zero trans fats and very low saturated fats.

·   If it has high content of added sugar, avoid it. Choose a substitute with low sugar content.

·   If it has refined flour as an ingredient, avoid it. Choose a substitute with whole grain flour as an ingredient.

Make Healthier Choices in Restaurants

It is possible to eat healthy in a restaurant by choosing wisely and giving special instructions while ordering.

·   Choose foods which are steamed, grilled, baked, stir fried or pan fried instead of deep fried.

·   Avoid choices with red meat or cheese content. Check if they can make the same dish with healthier ingredients.

·   Avoid sugary beverages. Have water instead or some other beverage with no sugar or very little sugar.

·   Give special instructions for whatever dish you choose, such as

-   Using less oil.

-   Using a different cooking method, e.g. steaming or grilling or stir frying instead of deep frying

-   Avoiding unhealthy ingredients and using healthier ingredients, e.g. avoiding high fat dressing or sauce and using low fat type, using egg white instead of whole egg, skipping bacon, etc.

-   Replacing unhealthy side dishes with healthy ones, e.g. french fries with steamed vegetables.