7 Easy Switches to Healthier Eating

It can be hard to change the eating habits of a lifetime. But it becomes easier when we take an unhealthy or low-nutrition food and substitute for it something that's similar - but very healthy. It's amazing how just a relatively few dietary substitutions like this can make a huge difference in our health. Here are seven good such substitutions:


-- Switch from white rice to brown rice. It’s not too hard to get used to “brown” things, instead of white – especially when your life and quality of life might be on the line. Brown rice and whole wheat bread and pasta have complex carbohydrates that protect the body against the development or worsening of diabetes, heart disease, arthritis and allergies.

-- Switch from fatty snacks to trail mix. If you’re used to fatty, starchy or sugary snacks during the day, or in the evening, try carrying dried fruits, seeds and nuts with you to eat instead. They contain complex carbohydrates and a great deal of vitamin E, lignans and omega-3 fatty acids, all of which aid in warding off heart disease and other ills of aging.
   
-- Switch from butter to olive oil. Butter – along with coconut oil, palm kernel oil and lard – has lots of saturated fat, which increases blood cholesterol and triglyceride levels, raising the risk of heart attack and stroke. Healthy alternatives are monounsaturated fats like olive oil, canola oil and sesame oil.
   
-- Switch from red meat to fish. While eating red meat is healthy if it’s done no more than three times a week, eating it every day makes it three times as likely you’ll develop breast cancer or prostate cancer as those who almost entirely avoid red meat. Fish is healthier because it is not only high in protein, but has omega-3 fatty acids that reduce inflammation, shield blood vessels from plaque and avert high blood pressure.
   
-- Switch from soda to water. Soda has lots of phosphorous, which leaches calcium from your bones – not a good thing, especially for older people. It’s also loaded with sugar. Diet soda, while it has no sugar, contains suspect chemicals. With a little getting used to, you can substitute filtered water for soda. Juice and tea are excellent, too.
   
-- Switch from refined sweets to berries. The average American eats and drinks almost 240 pounds of sugar a year in the form of candies, pastries, sodas and so forth. Some of it often winds up being stored as fat, which increases the risk of heart disease and cancer. Berries are sweet, too, but are loaded with healthful antioxidants, which provide energy and slow aging.
   
-- Switch from potatoes to sweet potatoes. Potatoes are good, but sweet potatoes are better yet. They have more beta-carotene and vitamin C than carrots, a higher amount of protein than wheat and rice, and more fiber than oat bran. They also have a great deal of plant DHEA – a precursor hormone that helps the body age in a healthy way.


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