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    Healthier Alternatives Help You Improve Your Diet Gradually



    Replacing everyday food items with healthier alternatives can have a big impact.

    If healthier eating is one of your New Year's goals, you'll be happy to learn that you don't have to overhaul your diet. Simply try these healthier alternatives to these everyday items. They may help control your blood sugar, protect your heart, and even help you drop a few pounds.




    Try bran flakes instead of cornflakes. Bran is rich in fiber, which may help keep your heart healthy and lower your risk of obesity. On average, a three-quarter cup serving of bran flakes gives you five grams of fiber, compared to just one gram in a one cup serving of cornflakes, according to the USDA Food Composition Database.


    Try a whole-wheat English muffin instead of a bagel. A dense, oversize bagel can easily pack 260 calories and a hefty 53 grams of carbohydrates. Choose a light, airy whole-wheat English muffin instead and you'll save about 126 calories and 26 grams of carbohydrates.


    Try mashed avocado instead of butter. Butter is packed with unhealthy saturated fat that may raise harmful LDL cholesterol. Top your whole-wheat toast or English muffin with a tablespoon of mashed avocado and you'll trim approximately seven grams of saturated fat.




    Try tuna instead of luncheon meats. Luncheon meats like ham, turkey, and roast beef are often loaded with blood-pressure-raising sodium. Reach for a two-ounce serving of water-packed, no-sodium-added tuna instead of a two-ounce serving of luncheon meat and you could cut nearly 750 milligrams of sodium.


    Try a side salad instead of French fries. French fries are high in calories and, if eaten regularly, their high fat content can lead to increased cholesterol levels and weight gain. Non-starchy salad vegetables, such as lettuce, carrots, and tomatoes are high in essential vitamins, minerals, nutrients, and fiber and low in calories and carbohydrates.


    Try a bean taco instead of a beef taco. Legumes (e.g. beans, peas, and lentils) are high in fiber and low in fat, and can improve cholesterol and glucose levels.


    Try a sandwich on whole-wheat bread instead of white bread. When you eat whole grains, your body has to work longer and harder to break down their fiber and bran. The result? A slower release of glucose into your bloodstream.




    Try a salmon steak instead of a sirloin steak. The American Diabetes Association and the American Heart Association (AHA) both recommend eating less red meat. The AHA also suggests eating at least two servings of fish a week. This swap helps you do both.


    Try spaghetti squash instead of spaghetti. You can eat roughly five times as much spaghetti squash for about the same calories as you'll find in just one cup of regular spaghetti.


    Try brown rice instead of white rice. Brown rice is rich in magnesium, a mineral that helps regulate blood sugar. One half-cup of brown rice provides 11 percent of your recommended dietary allowance; that's nearly four times the amount in white rice.




    Try plain yogurt with half a cup of fresh berries instead of fruit-flavored yogurt. Dairy is a great way to get your daily calcium and some high-quality protein, however, some varieties of fruit-flavored yogurt can contain a lot of sugar. A six-ounce serving of plain Greek yogurt, on the other hand, is low in sugar and contains about 12 grams of carbohydrates and 12 grams of protein.


    Try unsalted nuts instead of chips. Nuts are full of fiber, healthy unsaturated fats, vitamins, minerals, and other heart-healthy substances.


    Try popcorn instead of pretzels. Pretzels might seem like an innocent choice, but they're packed with rapidly-digested white flour that quickly floods your system with glucose. Popcorn, on the other hand, is a whole grain, so it's digested gradually. Plus, the air-popped variety contains only 31 calories and six grams of carbs per cup.




    Try fruit-infused water instead of soda. Soda is notoriously high in sugar and low in nutritional value. If you've tried to give up soda before but find plain water a little boring, consider infusing your water with fresh fruit such as lemons and berries for a refreshing, low-calorie drink.


    Try brewed coffee instead of a latte. If you're drinking your coffee in the form of a rich, creamy latte, there could easily be 180 calories in your cup, and that's before adding any flavoring or sugar. Stick with plain coffee with a splash of one percent milk instead. It's nearly calorie-free.


    By choosing these healthier alternatives, you'll be eating smarter before you know it.





    Diabetes Forecast, The American Deficit: Too Little Fiber


    USDA, USDA Food Composition Database


    American Heart Association, Saturated Fats


    Cleveland Clinic, Top 10 Worst Diet Choices If You Have Diabetes


    American Diabetes Association, Non-Starchy Vegetables


    Diabetes Care, Intake of Fruit, Vegetables, and Fruit Juices and Risk of Diabetes in Women


    Diabetes Care, Legumes: A Great Food Choice for People With Diabetes


    Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, Whole Grains


    American Diabetes Association, Red Meat on the Chopping Block


    American Heart Association, Eat More Chicken, Fish and Beans


    National Institutes of Health Office of Dietary Supplements, Magnesium: Fact Sheet for Consumers


    American Diabetes Association, Dairy


    American Diabetes Association, On-the-Go Tips


    California Avocados Direct, Use Avocado as a Healthy Butter Subsitute

    These articles are not a substitute for medical advice, and are not intended to treat or cure any disease. Advances in medicine may cause this information to become outdated, invalid, or subject to debate. Professional opinions and interpretations of scientific literature may vary. Consult your healthcare professional before making changes to your diet, exercise, or medication regime.