Substitute Your Way To Healthier Eating

You don't have to dramatically alter your diet to eat healthier.

Keri Glassman, a nutritionist and contributing editor to Women's Health magazine, says making some "simple substitutions" in what you eat at breakfast, lunch and dinner, or adding some foods, could dramatically increase your nutrient intake.

Don't always focus on the amount of fat and calories in your food, Glassman suggests. Rather, think about making everything you put into your mouth as nutrient-dense as possible. And remember: Just because something is low fat or low calorie doesn't mean it holds big benefits for your body.

Glassman's suggested substitutions:

BREAKFAST

Instead of a bagel, eat a light, multigrain English muffin. You'll increase your fiber intake (8 grams in the English muffin as opposed to 0 in the bagel) and save yourself 260 calories, while still enjoying your morning carbohydrates.

Instead of granola, eat whole grain cereal. Not only do you stop yourself from eating a LOT of fat and calories, you'll increase your B vitamins and fiber. Half-a-cup of granola has 300 calories and 15 grams of fat; 3/4 cup of whole grain cereal has 90 calories, 1 gram of fat and 5 grams of fiber.

Instead of black coffee, drink a nonfat latte. You'll increase your protein and calcium intake. A 12 ounce latte has 10 grams of protein and 35 percent of your daily calcium. This switch would also better jumpstart your metabolism for the day.

LUNCH

Instead of processed deli meat, eat lean, fresh protein (such as grilled chicken). You'd avoid salts and nitrates found in processed meats, not to mention lots of fat. Plus, lean, fresh protein will keep you full longer.

Instead of cheese on your sandwich, eat avocado. You'll still get the creamy texture you crave, but you'll replace saturated fat with "heart-healthy" fat found naturally in avocados.

Instead of potato chips, eat popcorn. You'd increase your fiber and protein intake while cutting fat and calories. Three cups of air-popped popcorn have only 93 calories and one gram of fat!

DINNER

Instead of canned tuna, eat canned salmon. You'll increase your omega-3 fatty acid intake as well as that of vitamin D and other essential vitamins and nutrients.

Instead of iceberg lettuce, eat romaine. You'll increase folic acid and vitamins in the meal. Dark, leafy greens in general have seven times the amount of vitamins A and C that iceberg lettuce does. And remember, greens aren't just for salads; use this advice when making sandwiches or tacos, as well.

Instead of croutons on your salad, eat sunflower seeds. You'll get the same crunch and add vitamin E and thiamin to your diet. Croutons are usually just white bread and butter -- almost useless nutritionally!

Instead of white rice pilaf, eat bean salad. Adding legumes to your diet enables you to add soluble fiber and lower cholesterol. Legumes are especially high in soluble fiber, which slows absorption, keeping blood sugar levels stable and keeping you feeling full longer. They also bind to fatty acids, enabling them to be excreted, lowering LDL cholesterol levels.
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