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5 substitutions for your diet-easy and healthful way to start the year

January 13, 2011

1. Replace sugar and artificial sweeteners with xylitol. This natural sweetener looks and tastes just like regular table sugar, making it a “comfortable” substitute that’s ideal for baking. You can also use xylitol in tea and coffee, and anywhere else you would use sugar or another sweetener. As an added bonus, it’s good for your teeth—xylitol has been shown to reduce cavity and plaque formation. Although it’s not calorie-free, xylitol is metabolized much more slowly than regular sugar and has a low glycemic load, so it’s also safe for those minding their blood sugar levels. Xylitol is available in health food stores or you can purchase it through online retailers.
2. Opt for ground turkey in place of ground beef. A healthy diet should incorporate adequate amounts of protein (20–25 grams per meal). But quality is just as important as quantity. If ground beef is your usual protein source, go for lean ground turkey instead. It’s lower in fat, and you can easily substitute it in any traditional ground beef recipe, from burgers and tacos to sauces and chili. Click here for a turkey chili recipe that will surely make your mouth water.
3. Cut calories and carbs with lettuce wraps. Using lettuce leaves in place of buns, breads, tortillas, and the like is a great way to lower your consumption of calories and starchy, high-glycemic carbohydrates. I recommend romaine lettuce because it’s a good source of vitamin K and contains higher amounts of folic acid and other vitamins than the iceberg variety. Wrap up turkey slices for a “bread-less” sandwich, make a turkey or veggie burger with all the fixings and use lettuce in place of the bun, or fill leaves with all of the items you’d usually place in tortillas, pita bread, or spring rolls. Click here for my favorite Lettuce Wrap Taco recipe and other healthy and delicious dishes.
4. Drink coffee instead of soda for a “pick-me-up.” Coffee is far more than a cup of caffeine. It’s an excellent source of polyphenols—naturally occurring plant compounds that protect against free-radical damage. Studies show that coffee also improves mental performance and concentration. Additionally, a cup of Joe can help curb appetite and even stop a migraine headache in its tracks. Soda, on the other hand, is loaded with high fructose corn syrup and other sugars that drive up blood glucose and insulin levels and wreak havoc throughout the body. And don’t be fooled into thinking that diet sodas are acceptable alternatives. Like their sugary counterparts, they provide absolutely no nutritional value, and the artificial sweeteners they contain are patented chemicals that have no place in the human body. If you aren’t a coffee drinker, opt for tea instead.
5. Reduce your sodium intake with a potassium-salt blend in place of regular table salt. It’s no secret that we eat way too much salt and that a high salt intake can raise blood pressure. But that’s just the tip of the iceberg. According to the American Stroke Association, people who consume more than 4,000 mg of sodium on a daily basis nearly double their risk of stroke compared with those whose daily intake is no more than 2,400 mg. Asthma, osteoporosis, kidney problems, and stomach ulcers have also been linked to excess sodium intake. One of the easiest ways to counteract the problems caused by too much sodium is to maintain a proper potassium-to-sodium balance. At the Whitaker Wellness Institute we achieve this by using a potassium-salt combo. In place of regular salt, we mix three parts potassium chloride (Nu-Salt or Morton’s Salt Substitute) with one part sodium chloride. Potassium chloride by itself has a metallic taste and doesn’t enhance flavor much. However, with this mixture, which provides a substantial amount of potassium, few people can tell the difference. The increase in potassium offsets the ill effects of sodium making this an easy and healthy swap that is sure to confer a number of health benefits.
Thanks ro Dr. Julian Whitaker for these suggestions

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