Taking your healthy eating to the next level is all about having a kitchen well-stocked with foods that make it easy. Sure, you can load up on skinless chicken breasts and organic brown rice, but this year, why not go a step further? From seasoning to side dishes and everything in between, we curated the 15 healthiest diet swaps and additions to start eating today.
Yearning for a burger, guilt-free steak, or tasty bowl of chili? Try swapping buffalo (bison) for your conventionally raised beef or chicken. Lower in calories, fat, and cholesterol than chicken, and higher in protein than beef, buffalo is becoming a popular substitute. Buffalo contains zinc and selenium, two must-have minerals for thyroid health. It’s also loaded with magnesium and potassium, and offers essential amino acids our bodies can’t produce on their own, like lysine. Buffalo is the perfect source of iron and folate for pregnancy. It delivers antioxidant-rich omega-3 fatty acids and vitamin E to keep our clients glowing from the inside out. And it’s a nutrient-dense lean protein that keeps our beautiful clients satiated after workouts.
Himalayan Pink Salt
Ditch your table salt! Himalayan pink salt is packed with over 84 trace minerals and elements, as opposed to table salt that is 97.5 percent sodium chloride. Excess sodium increases your risk of hypertension, osteoporosis and kidney disease, whereas the diversity of elements in Himalayan pink salt is shown to create an electrolyte balance within your body, strengthen bones, lower blood pressure, and improve circulation. It also helps to protect the delicate balance of minerals in your cells, avoid excess water retention and prevent premature aging. Processed foods are loaded with sodium, so limit your processed food intake, and when cooking at home, use the pink stuff!
Swapping coconut aminos for both soy sauce and its gluten-free alternative, Tamari, has a number of clean benefits. Coconut aminos are made from coconut sap and natural sea salt. This still-salty replacement contains 17 amino acids and B vitamins. Swapping out soy means eliminating phytoestrogens, phytic acid, and MSG, all of which are bad for you. It also means consuming 700 mg less of sodium than you otherwise would. That’s the difference between 36 percent of your daily recommended sodium intake and a mere 5 percent. Bloat-y sushi hangover begone!
Salmon and Sardines
Two low-mercury alternatives for tuna are sardines and salmon. Cold-water fish (like tuna, herring, salmon, mackerel or sardines) are a great source of protein and healthy fat. However, some have more mercury in them than others. Mercury is a neurotoxin that interferes with the brain and nervous system, fertility and fetal development. We suggest saving your tuna consumption for special occasions and opting for a low mercury alternative most of the time. Sardines are one of the most concentrated sources of the omega-3 fatty acids EPA and DHA, and provide three times your need for B12. If you find it hard to stomach sardines, salmon is a great option to hydrate your cells with omega-3, while lowering your triglycerides and cholesterol levels.
Goat and Sheep Cheese
Cow dairy (unless organic and 100 percent grass fed) contain antibiotics and growth factors that are intended to grow baby cows, not humans. Furthermore, regular consumption of cow dairy can result in irritable bowel syndrome and may exacerbate asthma, other respiratory and sinus disorders, and some skin disorders. Goat and sheep cheese are two delicious swaps that don’t come with all that potential baggage. They have less lactose and are closer to the structure of human milk.
Cinnamon is popular in the diabetic community because of its ability to help increase insulin sensitivity. It’s also a powerful antioxidant, antibacterial and source of manganese. But before you load up your morning coffee, daily smoothie, or Moroccan chicken dish with cinnamon, make sure you are using ceylon cinnamon and not cassia cinnamon. Ceylon cinnamon is not only more effective in blood sugar balance, but it’s also lower in coumarin, which has been linked to liver damage in excess.
A good swap for flax seed is ch-ch-ch-CHIA! Although both seeds are touted as superfoods, chia is beating out flax for its place in your blender. Flax benefits come from fiber, omega-3 fatty acids, and phytochemicals called lignans. All of these are present in chia, plus the ingredient is a complete protein, and it’s higher in fiber, calcium, and phosphorous than flax.
In 2012, arsenic was found in over 60 varieties of rice. A recent Consumer Report reconfirmed these findings by retesting an additional 128 samples at the end of last year. Arsenic is linked to an increase risk of bladder, lung, and skin cancer. It accumulates in the outer layers of rice, which are removed to make white rice. As a result, brown rice may contain 80 percent more arsenic than white varieties. Further, arsenic levels may vary by region and types of rice. White basmati rice from California and sushi rice have 38 percent less arsenic than white rice from Arkansas, Texas, and Louisiana, which rank among the highest regions. So save your rice for sushi nights and pick up a clean Cali-basmati for your home if needed. Alternative grains to rice such as amaranth, millet, and quinoa all have significantly less arsenic than rice.
Organic (no sulfite added) wine is the way to go if you like your vino. Sulfites are added to wine to increase flavor and depth, but they are also naturally occurring in the wine. Choose the wine without added sulfites. These compounds are what cause broken capillaries, sinus mucus, headaches, swelling, sneezing, rashing, and acne.
Sick of coconut oil? Don’t be! Bulletproof coffee (that’s coffee made with butter) is all the rage and the fat-filled blended coffee is pretty delicious. For a quick creamer alternative, jump on the bandwagon (a little) and blend 1 tablespoon of coconut oil into your coffee. Not only do the medium chain triglycerides help produce ketones and quick brain fuel, the lauric acid will kill candida and yeast overgrowth. Most importantly for weight loss, the medium chain triglycerides in coconut oil have been shown to increase 24-hour energy expenditure by as much as 5 percent, potentially leading to significant weight loss over the long-term.
Here are some other quick-fire swaps for a variety of foods:
Parsnips and cauliflower make a great replacement for white potatoes, whether mashed or roasted.
Zucchini noodles and spaghetti squash can replace that starchy pasta without guilt.
Cucumber slices are crunchy like crackers without the sodium, carbs, and sugar. They fill you up due to water content and fiber, helping you to eat less overall.
Avocado makes a great mayonnaise substitute in chicken, salmon, and tuna salad.
Choose omega-3 eggs. Always! The chickens are fed flax and their eggs provide us an anti-inflammatory increase.