Making small adjustments to your diet with simple food replacements can offer big rewards when it comes to your health. See what you can do to bring down your cholesterol, blood pressure and blood-sugar levels without medicine. Click here for the five lifesaving numbers you need to know.
Lower Your Cholesterol
High cholesterol is a major risk factor for cardiovascular disease. Your HDL, the healthy cholesterol, needs to be 50 or better; your LDL, the unhealthy cholesterol, should be under 100. If your numbers do not fall in this range, discuss strategies for lowering your LDL and increasing your HDL with a health-care professional. Eliminate these 3 cholesterol culprits from your diet to see your numbers improve.
The Culprit: Butter
Food Substitution: Banana Puree
Banana puree can step in for butter during baking. Butter packs 30 mg of cholesterol per teaspoon. Banana puree has 0 mg of cholesterol.
The Culprit: Ice Cream
Food Substitution: Frozen Greek Yogurt
One half-cup serving of ice cream weighs in at 90 mg of cholesterol. Try frozen 2% greek yogurt instead. You’ll still get the rich, creamy texture you’re craving and consume only 10 mg of cholesterol by choosing this healthy alternative.
The Culprit: Mayonnaise
Food Substitution: Avocado Slices
This common culprit can find its way into many of your favorite foods – but at 5 mg of cholesterol, consider a healthier alternative: avocado slices. Try them on your favorite sandwich – all for 0 mg of cholesterol.
Lower Your Blood Pressure
High blood pressure can cause a host medical problems including cardiovascular disease, chronic kidney disease and stroke, which can strike suddenly. Make an attempt to control your blood pressure naturally by reducing your salt intake. Sodium is an essential nutrient, but in excess, it can be damaging.
The Culprit: Salt Shaker
Food Substitution: Garlic and Herb Spice Blend
Liberally adding salt to your food can become a big problem. A 1/4 teaspoon of salt has over 600 mg of sodium. (The recommended daily dose is about 2300 mg a day.) Instead, try a garlic and herb spice blend – the same serving size has 0 mg of sodium.
The Culprit: Soy Sauce
Food Substitution: Balsamic Vinegar With Red Pepper Flakes
Only 1 tablespoon of soy sauce has approximately 920 mg of sodium! For a similar acidic flavor, try a mixture of balsamic vinegar and red pepper flakes; this option will only add 4 mg of sodium to your meal.
The Culprit: Breadcrumbs
Food Substitution: Whole Wheat Panko Breadcrumbs
Breadcrumbs can be deceptively high in salt – 1/4 cup can contain up to 470 mg. Instead, try whole wheat panko breadcrumbs; the same serving size contains only 32 mg of sodium.
Lower Your Blood Sugar
Testing your fasting blood sugar (FBS) measures your risk for diabetes, a chronic disease that can lead to blindness, cardiac disease, kidney failure, nerve problems and an impaired immune system. A fasting blood sugar number above 100 is considered pre-diabetic; treatment measures should be discussed with a physician. Diet can improve your blood sugar. Try these food substitutions.
Food Substitution: Stevia
One teaspoon of sugar is equal to a 4-gram serving. Try stevia, a natural sweetener; it is 15 times sweeter than sugar, but does not cause a sugar spike (and crash). Because it is so sweet, you’re likely to use half as much.
Culprit: Jar of Tomato Sauce
Food Substitution: Canned Whole Tomatoes
Do a little extra work to avoid a hidden dose of sugar found in most prepared tomato sauces, up to 14 grams per cup. Instead, crush canned whole tomatoes to make your own sauce; one cup contains 6 grams of sugar.
Culprit: Barbeque Sauce
Food Substitution: Malt Vinegar
Barbeque sauce and other condiments like ketchup are notoriously high in sugar. Only 2 tablespoons of barbeque sauce contains 22 grams of sugar. To get the same tangy flavor and 0 grams of sugar, try malt vinegar.