Heart-Healthy Food Swaps

There's no question that obesity is related to a number of health conditions. But for psoriasis sufferers—who, according to the National Psoriasis Foundation, are already at a greater risk of cardiovascular disease—keeping obesity at bay is even more critical.

Aside from exercise, improving your diet is essential for shedding pounds. Try replacing some foods and condiments with the suggestions below—your body will thank you.

1. Avocado instead of mayonnaise.

Per tablespoon, avocado has about one-quarter of the calories of mayonnaise, and they're mainly heart-healthy monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, plus B vitamins (including folate), vitamin C and potassium.

2. Scallops instead of shrimp

Scallops and shrimp are similar in calories and fat, but scallops have only 45 mg of cholesterol in a 3-oz. serving, compared to 165 mg for the same-size serving of shrimp.

3. Premium-brand chocolate sorbet instead of premium-brand chocolate ice cream

You'll find plenty of heart-healthy, phytochemical-rich chocolate in chocolate sorbet, and at 130 calories per half-cup, it's a calorie bargain compared to the 270 calories in a half-cup of premium chocolate ice cream. Plus, the sorbet is fat- and cholesterol-free.

4. Olive oil instead of salad dressing

While olive oil has more fat than salad dressing because it is pure fat, the fat in olive oil is all good. Most salad dressings have a lot of sodium, and creamy varieties also pour on saturated fat.

5. Fresh mozzarella cheese instead of packaged mozzarella or other hard cheeses

Fresh mozzarella naturally contains more liquid, so it's lower in calories and fat, and it is made with little or no salt—so no extra sodium.

6. Peanuts instead of jelly beans

Jelly beans are lower in calories—4 calories per jelly bean compared to nearly 6 calories per peanut—but jelly beans earn a big zero for nutrition. Peanuts deliver heart-healthy fats, along with protein, fiber, vitamins and minerals.

7. Oat-ring cereal instead of puffed-wheat cereal

With very few calories and no added ingredients, puffed-wheat cereal may seem virtuous. But, in addition to being 100% whole grain, oat-ring cereal also is packed with the type of fiber that is linked to heart health.

8. Sweet potato instead of white potato

It's heart-smart to make sweet potatoes a year-round side dish. They match white potatoes in calories but trump the more popular spud in fiber and heart-healthy nutrients like calcium, vitamin B6 and vitamin E.

9. Chickpeas instead of hummus

Here, not all chickpeas are created equal. Hummus is made from chickpeas, but ingredients added to enhance flavor and creaminess bump up the sodium and fat. Some brands are made with mayonnaise rather than the more traditional olive oil or tahini, adding a touch of cholesterol.

10. Corn tortillas instead of flour tortillas

Corn tortillas are considered a whole-grain food since they're made with the entire corn kernel. The flour used in flour tortillas has been milled to remove the husk and germ, as well as the nutrients and phytochemicals they contain. Also, corn tortillas usually are fat-free; most flour tortillas are made with fat.

Published August 2011

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