15 Healthy Alternatives to Traditional Foods

From using natural sweeteners to swapping out high-carb noodles to a lower carb option, using these healthy food substitutions supplies more nutrients in the diet without compromising flavor.

15 Healthy Alternatives to Traditional Foods

With processed foods all around us, it might seem like healthy foods are not as readily available as we would like. Not only does make getting those nutrients the body needs feel somewhat out of reach, but can increase the risk of long-term health conditions.

If only there was a way to sneak healthy foods into our daily lives without us hardly realizing it sacrificing flavor...

But where there is a will, there is a way and 15 healthy food alternatives prove just that!

15 Healthy Food Alternatives

1. Greek Yogurt for Mayo

Drop the fat content and enhance protein in tuna or chicken salads by swapping out mayo with plain Greek yogurt.

Try subbing ½ of the Greek yogurt in to cut out ½ the mayo, see how it tastes, and gradually swap in as much yogurt as your taste buds prefer.

The tanginess of the yogurt can also be used as sour cream to top tacos!

2. Avocado Puree for Butter

While swapping out butter with avocado puree may seem like a stretch, it really works!

The avocado in this delicious recipe adds a similar richness as butter and produces the fudginess of brownies you long for, along with reducing saturated fats and increasing unsaturated fats proven to protect against heart disease.

(And truly, what more could you want from a dessert?)

3. Applesauce for Sugar

When baking, use applesauce in place of sugar to simultaneously add natural sweetness and nutrients.

And not only does it also add a natural sweetness, but offers moisture without adding calories from fat.

As a pro tip, you may need to cut back a little on other moist ingredients.

4. Zucchini Ribbons for Lasagna Noodles

Lasagna just would not be lasagna without the noodles! But instead of using traditional flour pasta noodles filled with simple carbohydrate and devoid of fiber, sub in potassium, fiber, and beta carotene-packed zucchini instead.

Simply slice a whole zucchini into wide, flat ribbons using a peeler or a mandolin then use as you would standard lasagna noodles.

Another huge plus? Zucchini soaks up all the delicious flavors above and below when layered into a lasagna.

5. Spaghetti Squash for Pasta Noodles

Squash the flour pasta noodles in your next recipe and you will squash all the carbs! Spaghetti squash offers alternative spaghetti-like "noodles" packed with vitamins A and C and fiber without an ounce of guilt.

But along with a traditional red pasta sauce, there are other delicious guilt-free ways to eat spaghetti squash, including with pesto and Cajun shrimp. 

6. Almond Flour for Regular Flour

When preparing your next batch of chicken parmesan, try subbing in almond flour instead of white flour for the breading. Not only does this healthy recipe food swap drop the carbs significantly, but adds in a little filling healthy fat, too.

And not to mention, it browns evenly, too!

7. Chia Seeds for Eggs

Yes, you read that right… Whether you are out of eggs or simply do not eat them, chia seeds can replace an egg if into baked good.

Use chia seeds as a binder by combining one teaspoon of chia seeds in 1/3 cup of water to yield “one large egg” for your recipe.

Whereas eggs the cholesterol in eggs are no longer feared the way they once were, chia seeds grant some serious health benefits, including diabetes management, bone support, and digestive health.

8. Lettuce Wraps for Tortillas

Lighten up your next #TacoTuesday by swapping out tortilla shells with lettuce shells.

Simply stuff and fold large lettuce leaves with favorite taco ingredients – and that is a wrap!

9. Edamame for Avocados

Spare unwanted calories by swapping avocados with just one ingredient – edamame!

The lighter version of this edamole recipe is high in protein and fiber and low in calories and fat, all while gifting the creamy flavors you love.

10. Portobello Mushrooms for Hamburger Buns

Ditch a white hamburger bun and say hello to mushroom caps.

Clean and scrape out the gills and stems of the mushroom and drizzle with olive oil and a little salt and pepper. Place on grill with beef or bison hamburger patty and assemble once cooked.

Go for a classic hamburger or be creative with an Asian turkey burger featuring crushed red pepper, grated carrot and cabbage, and a drizzle of soy sauce.

11. Quinoa for Meat Stuffed Peppers

While lean ground beef and turkey are ample protein suppliers for stuffed peppers, swap it out with plant-based quinoa for your next #MeatlessMonday.

The inclusion of more plants in the diet can help fight against obesity and lower the risk of chronic health conditions, including heart disease and cancer.

12. Grated Steamed Cauliflower for Rice

Described as light and fluffy, this cauliflower rice recipe is one of the best healthy alternatives to lighten up any rice dish and boost nutrient content.

13. Seasonings for Salt

Although salt adds flavor depth to a number of dishes, continuous use revs up the sodium content and may increase blood pressure.

Swap out the salt shaker and spice it up in the kitchen with different spices and herbs, including basil, cayenne pepper, cinnamon, garlic, nutmeg, oregano, tarragon, and turmeric.

14. Leafy Greens for Iceberg Lettuce

First off, iceberg lettuce is A-Okay for use. However, you can upgrade the nutritional value of salads, sandwiches, etc. by swapping iceberg lettuce with dark leafy greens such as kale, spinach, and arugula.

To put this into greater perspective, one cup of iceberg lettuce provides a little under a gram of fiber and 13 milligrams (mg) of calcium, while a cup-equivalent of kale boasts a little over two grams of fiber and 100 mg of bone-building calcium and a cup of fresh spinach provides nearly double the daily requirement for vitamin K!

15. Frozen Bananas and Avocados for Ice Cream

No milk, no cream, no sugar… Though foregoing the ice cream essentials may seem like a recipe (or lack thereof) for disaster, pureeing frozen bananas and avocados in their place still grants the delicious consistency and boasts the nutritional value.

This avocado recipe you have been waiting for breaks it all down for you!

Over 150 Doctor-Designed, Chef-Prepared Meals

  • Real Results
  • No Contracts
Your first week as low as
per meal

Find the Right
Program for

At bistroMD, food + science is the foundation of what we do.

Ready to experience the power of food as medicine yourself? Let's find out which program is right for you.

Take this quiz and we'll match you to a science-backed program that will work best for you.

Take the Quiz

as seen on...

Dr. Phil
Lifetime Network
The Biggest Loser
The Doctors