nutrition month – 5 Foods and Their Healthy Alternatives

5 Foods and Their Healthy Alternatives


Proper nutrition is important for any healthy lifestyle. The diet/exercise ratio is 70% proper eating, 30% exercise. Thus, what you put into your body holds much more weight than what you are burning off. Making healthy eating choices every day can impact your emotional, mental, and physical health in a positive way. So, in order to celebrate Nutrition Month, we are going to examine 5 common foods and their healthier substitutes.

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  • Avocado
  • Low-Fat Plain Greek Yogurt
  • Olive Oil
  • Hummus
  • Almond Butter
  • Pesto
  • Mustard
  • Low-Fat Cottage Cheese
  • Nayonaise
  • Mediterranean-Inspired Spreads

According to an article by Huffington Post, these substitutes offer healthier fat alternatives, similar texture to the creamy oils that mayonnaise provides, as well as equivalent flavor. Though some of these options may seem higher in caloric intake than a tablespoon or two of mayonnaise, calories are not the only factor of a healthy diet. The nutritional benefits of some of these options, though higher in calories, far exceed that of mayo.

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  • Maple Syrup
  • Agave Syrup
  • Molasses
  • Honey
  • Stevia
  • Xylitol
  • China’s Lo Han fruit
  • Brown Rice Syrup
  • Coconut Palm Sugar
  • Date Sugar

These alternatives, provided by an article on Yahoo Health, are a natural alternative and are thus much more easily digested and processed by your body. Processed sugar can cause many health problems when eaten in access. According to an article by SF Gate on the Disadvantages of Sugar, side effects of sugar intake include tooth decay and weight gain. In addition to these preliminary side-effects, “Gaining too much weight by eating sugary foods increases your risk of hypertension, diabetes, depression and certain types of cancer. High-sugar intake might also contribute to an increased risk of heart disease.”

In order to avoid long-term health problems, try substituting your sugars with these more natural alternatives. However, even with these substitutions, moderation is still necessary to maintain a healthy diet and lifestyle.

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  • Greek Yogurt
  • Plain Yogurt
  • Hummus
  • Cottage Cheese
  • Avocado
  • Silken Tofu

These substitutes, provided by an article on, are much better for you. Sour Cream, though consumed in moderation can be healthy, is high in calories and fat. If you’re an avid sour cream eater and want to minimize your intake of the delicious topping, try the suggested substitutes for a healthier alternative.

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  • Ground Turkey
  • Ground Chicken Breast
  • Cooked Lentils
  • Black Beans

The above substitutes, provided by an article on Better Homes and Gardens, offer a similar amount of protein to give your body the energy it needs, while offering less fat content than red meat. Though red meat offers a variety of nutritional benefits, including iron and vitamin B12, according to WebMd, just like any food, it should be consumed in moderation. So, if you’re a meat lover, try substituting one of these leaner options in for ground beef every once in a while. In fact, “People don’t need to give up red meat,” says Christine Rosenbloom, PhD, RD, a nutrition professor at Georgia State University. “They need to make better selections in the type of meat they eat and the portions.”

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  • Avocado
  • Olive Oil
  • Greek Yogurt
  • Nut Butter
  • Pumpkin Puree

These substitutes, provided by EverydayHealth, offer much healthier alternatives to butter. Butter, especially salted, can be high in both salt content and saturated fat. According to an article from Everyday Health, “For those trying to lower their cholesterol, The American Heart Association recommends reducing saturated fat intake to 11 to 13 grams – meaning that 2 tablespoons of butter has already put you over the daily limit.” Thus, in order to keep your cholesterol in check, substituting the alternatives above for butter on a daily basis can help your heart health in the long run!

Keeping in mind that all food groups, consumed in moderation, can still play a part in a healthy diet, these substitutes for everyday foods offer an even healthier alternative. Proper nutrition is important to your body and overall well being. In order to maximize your health, make sure you are making wise and conscious eating choices every day. Whether you decide to use avocado or mayonnaise on your next sandwich, moderation in everything is key.

The Harrisburg Area YMCA values healthy living and eating. From our diabetes prevention programs to nutrition counseling, we offer practical ways to live healthier lifestyles. For more information on our health-related programs, visit our website HERE!

Emily Sanville, Digital Communications Coordinator

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