For those of us who are considering making some healthy changes in 2021, it’s especially important to establish some new eating habits. Here are some simple and clever food swaps you can adopt to help you stay healthy and improve your nutrition.
Research continues to uncover the benefits of a well-balanced gut microbiome, linking happy gut bugs to everything from good mood to weight loss. Looking after your gut doesn’t require expensive probiotics or prebiotics. A quick and easy, budget-friendly food fix is simply to swap from refined grains to whole grains.
The fiber in whole grains provides both probiotics and prebiotics that create a diverse gut microbiome, which is what you need for good gut health. Legumes are also important for our healthy gut bugs.
Your diet can make a big difference to your joints and can help keep bothersome aches and pains at bay. Your best bet to help reduce inflammation in your body is to eat more plants, especially those that contain omega-3, which has been shown to reduce signs of chronic inflammation. Plant-based sources include walnuts and flax, chia, and hemp seeds.
Need to nourish your noggin? Avoid junk food, which research indicates actually shrinks your brain. Eating more plant foods will help you to grow new brain cells, which will enhance learning and memory. Brain foods to add to the shopping cart include plenty of colorful fruits (especially berries), dark-green vegetables, nuts (especially walnuts), and seeds (chia, flax, and hemp).
When it comes to lowering cholesterol levels, the most effective dietary strategies are to replace saturated and trans fats (bad fats) with unsaturated fats (healthy fats) and increase your intake of plant sterols. Plant sterols can stop cholesterol from being absorbed by your body. They can be found in unsalted raw nuts, fruit, hummus, tahini, peanut butter, and reduced-fat Greek yogurt.
food swap tips
Instead of white pasta and rice, go for whole grains and a variety of legumes. Try swapping out meat for legumes several times a week or more. Choose high-fiber alternatives in some foods. For example, try making your own whole-grain pizza crust or substitute whole-grain pita bread.
Swap creamy salad dressings for dressings with extra virgin olive oil and lemon juice or apple cider vinegar. Add a tablespoon or two of high-fiber chia seeds, hemp seeds, or ground flaxseeds instead of bran. Pack unsalted nuts, seeds, and dried fruits for a healthy snack on the go.
Go for a side of salad instead of fries for your next meal. Top your breakfast cereal with sweet blueberries or raspberries instead of syrup or sugar. If you are on the run, look for healthier takeout options, such as brown rice sushi or whole wheat tortilla wraps.
Article courtesy of Sanitarium Health Food Company. Visit sanitarium.com.au and subscribe to Wholicious Living for more great health and nutrition info each month.