Whether it’s pizza or ice cream, we all have favorite foods that we turn to when we’re craving a treat. But have you ever taken the time to compare products and find the healthiest version of your favorite meals and snacks? For example, what would happen if you chose a scoop of frozen yogurt over regular ice cream? Or a slice of thin-crust pizza over thick-crust alternatives? We look at some of the most popular treats around to show you how to shave off calories and add nutrients to your favorite dishes. Sometimes, simple swaps are all it takes to enjoy a healthier diet—and slim down to a trimmer waistline.
Eat It: Frozen Yogurt, Leave It: Ice Cream
You may be able slash up to 20 grams of fat off your next scoop of cold chocolaty goodness, by opting for low-fat frozen yogurt instead of ice cream. This simple swap could cut the number of calories you consume by up to 42%. Moreover, you may find that frozen yogurt packs more punch when it comes to providing calcium and iron. Considering how great it tastes, we doubt that you will regret the change!
Eat It: Dark Chocolate, Leave It: Milk Chocolate
Trying to satisfy a sweet tooth? Reach for a few squares of dark chocolate with a cocoa content of 70% or more, rather than a milk chocolate candy bar. A 37 gram serving of dark chocolate may contain less than 9 grams of sugar, compared to 21 grams in the same amount of milk chocolate. The darker choice could also contain 70% less sodium. Plus, dark chocolate is a good source of resveratrol, a compound that has been found to lower blood sugar, reports Science Daily.
Eat It: Skim Milk in Your Latte, Leave It: Flavored Syrup and Sugar
Do you find it hard to get moving without a daily dose of caffeine? The next time you swing by your favorite coffee shop, keep your latte order slim and simple by choosing non-fat milk instead of whole milk and skipping the flavored syrups. You could cut up to 13 grams of fat, 17 grams of sugar, and 168 calories from your morning routine.
Eat It: Low-Fat Popcorn and Chips, Leave It: Regular Popcorn and Chips
When it comes to salty snack foods, look for low-fat, reduced-sodium options to enjoy the crunch you crave, while consuming fewer calories and less salt. Compared to regular butter-flavored popcorn, low-fat and reduced sodium alternatives may contain up to 63% less fat and 37% less salt. Compared to regular potato chips, low-fat unsalted options could provide up to 40% less fat and 99% less salt.
Furthermore, healthier versions popular snack foods often contain less saturated fat, a suspected culprit in cardiovascular disease.
Eat It: Thin-Crust Pizza with Veggies, Leave It: Regular Pizza
You could potentially forgo up to fourteen grams of fat by reaching for a slice of thin crust, reduced fat pizza with chicken and veggies, rather regular crust, full-fat pizza laden with meat. The first option could provide up to 5.5 grams of fiber and 19% of your daily recommended intake of vitamin C, while the second option is likely to contain significantly less fiber and very little vitamin C. Choosing lean proteins and vegetables over fatty, processed meat makes a difference, even in moments of indulgence!
Eat It: Sirloin Steak, Leave It: Rib-Eye Steak
For many of the more carnivorous among us, nothing beats a good steak. The next time you fire up your grill or visit your go-to steak house, pick one of the leaner cuts of beef to munch on. Every ounce of richly marbled rib-eye contains approximately 77 calories, 6 grams of fat, and 5 grams of protein. In contrast, each ounce of lean sirloin tip clocks in around 46 calories, 2 grams of fat, and 6 grams of protein. With fewer calories, less fat, and more protein, the sirloin is a much healthier option. Other lean choices include top round, bottom round, and top sirloin. In comparison, fatty cuts of filet mignon, Porterhouse, and T-bone are worth skipping.
HealthAhead Hint: Simple Swaps May Lead to Long-Term Benefits
Making simple swaps is a great way to enjoy a healthier diet, without feeling deprived or guilty about occasional treats. The difference between one version of your favorite food and another may seem small—but reductions in calories, fat, sugar, and sodium can add up over the long-run. Start comparing labels and follow our “Eat It or Leave It” series to learn which products are healthier options, and which are best left behind.