Healthy Swaps for Common Foods

Updated:Nov 14,2014
teenagers cooking healthy in kitchenHealthy home cooking and smart shopping puts you in control of what goes into your recipes and your body.

Follow these healthy guidelines to update your eating style, help lose pounds and improve your nutrition profile.

  • Cut down on saturated and trans fats by choosing nonfat dairy products and non-hydrogenated margarine (check the Nutrition Facts label and choose one with zero trans fat and no more than 2 g of saturated fats per tbsp and with liquid vegetable oil as the first ingredient).
  • Instead of using a whole egg in a recipe, use 2 egg whites or ¼ cup liquid egg substitute to cut cholesterol.
  • Buy low-sodium versions of common canned recipe ingredients like tuna, beans, tomatoes and other vegetables. If you can’t find low-sodium or “no salt added,” rinse the contents in a colander under water to wash away some of the salt.
  • Choose canned fruits packed in juice rather than syrup.
  • Use nonstick cooking spray instead of greasing bakeware with butter or shortening. And use it in skillets instead of butter and oils for cooking.
  • Use reduced-fat, low-fat, lite or no-fat salad dressings on salads, for dips or as marinades.
  • Make your own creamy salad dressing by blending nonfat sour cream or cottage cheese and low-fat buttermilk. Add fresh herbs like dill, tarragon or chives.
  • If you must buy crackers and chips, look for whole-grain, low-fat and low-sodium kinds.
  • Instead of high-fat cookies like chocolate chip or macaroons, choose graham crackers, rice cakes, fig and other fruit bars, and ginger snaps.
  • Choose “choice” or “select” grades of beef rather than “prime,” and be sure to trim the fat off the edges before cooking.
  • Choose cuts of red meat and pork labeled “loin” and “round,” as they usually have the least fat.
  • With poultry, use the leaner light meat (breasts) instead of the fattier dark meat (legs and thighs), and be sure to remove the skin.

Article copyright © 2015 American Heart Association. This recipe is brought to you by the American Heart Association's Simple Cooking with Heart © Program. For more articles and simple, quick and affordable recipes, visit