Smart food trades

Substitutions that keep flavor, lose fat

INSTEAD OF...
Butter. It's delicious ― and 61 percent saturated fat, the main dietary cause of high blood cholesterol.

CHOOSE
Olive oil. It's mostly monounsaturated (healthy) fat, so substituting olive oil for butter helps cut your consumption of saturated fat.

HOW TO GET THERE
Save butter for special occasions. Use virgin olive oil for pan-frying and sautéing. Extra-virgin olive oil, with its rich, fruity taste, should usually be reserved for lower-temperature cooking; use it in salad dressings and marinades or for roasting vegetables and meats.

INSTEAD OF...
Fluffy white bread. Whether it's the classic American sandwich loaf or a French baguette, white bread lacks much of the fiber, vitamins, and minerals of 100 percent whole wheat.

CHOOSE
Hearty grains. Fiber-rich whole-grain breads are digested more slowly, keeping you satisfied longer.

HOW TO GET THERE
Choose breads with a higher percentage of whole wheat. When baking, replace half the white flour with whole-wheat flour. Opt for wheat tortillas. Add whole-wheat noodles to the pot on your next spaghetti night.

INSTEAD OF...
Steak. The American Heart Association recommends eating lean cuts of red meat and poultry, removing skin on chicken breasts, and eating no more than 6 ounces of meat, poultry, or fish a day.

CHOOSE
Soy. To cut down on cholesterol and saturated fat, swap in polyunsaturated tofu or soy products for at least one serving of meat during the week. Try to work in 25 grams of soy protein a day.

HOW TO GET THERE
Marinate firm tofu with soy or teriyaki sauce, or a mix of olive oil and balsamic vinegar, then grill or broil it until golden. Add cubes of silken tofu to soups, or toss with vegetables in a wok. Snack on edamame and soy nuts. Try soy milk in smoothies and tea.

INSTEAD OF...
Fish and chips. Oh, the deep-fryer gets things lusciously crisp, but what comes out of it contains high amounts of saturated fat. Adding tartar sauce just piles on the calories.

CHOOSE
Grilled fish. Grilling keeps fish flavorful and juicy without the grease. Oily fish like salmon is rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which help lower triglyceride levels and may reduce the risk of heart attack.

HOW TO GET THERE
Opt for fresh grilled fish at restaurants (hold the butter), or cook it at home on the grill, under the broiler, or in a nonstick pan lightly coated with olive oil spray. For extra flavor, add herbs, capers, garlic, chopped olives, tomatoes, or lemon zest.

INSTEAD OF...
A sundae. Ice cream topped with sugary sauces and whipped cream can send you to taste-bud heaven, but if you want help holding the spoon at bay, count the fat, calories, and cholesterol.

CHOOSE
A yogurt parfait. Flavored non- or low-fat yogurt has less fat and more calcium and protein than ice cream.

HOW TO GET THERE
Layer your favorite flavors of yogurt (or low-fat frozen yogurt) with toasted almonds, walnuts, and berries for a bonus of disease-fighting antioxidants and fiber.

INSTEAD OF...
A bagel and cream cheese. This breakfast-on-the-run has as many as 550 calories and 13.5 grams of saturated fat―more than half the recommended daily average.

CHOOSE
Oatmeal. The classic breakfast comfort food is low in calories, has no fat, is full of heart-healthy fiber, and has been shown to lower cholesterol levels.

HOW TO GET THERE
Serve oatmeal piping hot on a rainy day, topped with berries, toasted hazelnuts, and cinnamon. Oatmeal with nonfat milk and blueberries helps you keep up with your calcium and fiber goals. Hazelnuts are full of heart-healthy monounsaturated fat and vitamin E.