Healthy Substitutes

Looking to save on fat, calories, or sodium in your favorite recipes? Use this list of popular healthy ingredient substitutes.

Baking Essentials

Bacon: turkey bacon, reduced-sodium and reduced-fat bacon, Canadian-style bacon

  • Reduced-sodium bacon reduces sodium, calories, and fat.
  • Canadian bacon reduces calories, fat, sodium, and omits more saturated fat.

Baking powder: See our substitute for baking powder.

Bread: whole wheat or whole grain instead of white; spinach, Swiss chard, napa cabbage instead of wraps; low-carb spinach or tomato tortillas

  • Whole wheat bread has less carbohydrates and almost twice the amount of fiber than white bread. (Though it’s worth noting that white bread has more protein.)
  • Using spinach, Swiss chard, or napa cabbage omits added carbohydrates, lowers calories, and omits fat.

Bread crumbs, dry: See our substitute for bread crumbs.

Brown sugar: See our substitute for brown sugar.

Butter: See our substitute for butter.

Canned beans: dried beans, cooked; no-salt-added canned beans

  • The above options omit any added salt from processing.

Canned vegetables: no-salt-added, salt-free, or low-sodium canned vegetables; frozen or fresh vegetables

  • Using no-salt-added, salt-free, or low-sodium canned vegetables reduces or omits added salt during the canning process.

Chocolate: See our substitute for chocolate.

Eggs: See our substitute for eggs.

Flour: See our substitute for flour.

French-fried onions: whole wheat panko bread crumbs in casseroles

  • Whole wheat panko has double the carbs but almost 98 percent less fat and about 80 percent less sodium than french-fried onions. Per cup, whole wheat panko also has 12 grams protein and 8 grams fiber, whereas french-fried onions have none.

Fruit canned in heavy syrup: fruit canned in its own juice or in water; fresh fruit

  • The above options reduce calories, carbohydrates, and added sugar.

Heavy cream: See our substitute for heavy cream.

Jam/jelly: mashed berries instead of jam in baked goods and on sandwiches

  • Using mashed berries reduces calories and carbohydrates, and omits added processed sugar and salt.

Lettuce, iceberg: arugula, chicory, collard greens, dandelion greens, kale, mustard greens, spinach, watercress

  • The above options increase vitamins, minerals, and fibers. Dark leafy greens tend to be higher in vitamin A, vitamin C, calcium, iron, and folate.

Margarine: See our substitute for margarine.

Marinades, oil-based: wine, balsamic vinegar, fruit juice, fat-free broth

  • The above options reduce calories, fat, saturated fat, and sodium. Wine adds alcohol, which may or may not be present in some marinades.

Mayonnaise: hummus, pesto, mashed avocado, mustard on sandwiches; plain Greek yogurt in dressings, casseroles, and salads

  • Hummus has about one-third the calories, six times the protein, and less fat and saturated fat than mayo. It also has about 10 grams fiber per cup.
  • Mashed avocado has less calories, fat, saturated fat, and sodium than mayo. It has double the protein and 15 grams fiber per cup.
  • Yellow mustard has less calories and fat than mayo but has nearly double the amount of sodium. It has five times as much protein as mayo.
  • Plain Greek yogurt has less calories, fat, saturated fat, and sodium than mayo. It also has 10 times the amount of protein.

Milk, whole: skim milk

  • Skim milk has less calories, cholesterol, fat, and saturated fat. However, using skim milk instead of whole milk can change the richness of sauces and dressings.

Oil: See our substitute for oil.

Oil-packed foods: water-packed foods like tuna and sun-dried tomatoes

  • Using water-packed foods will omit any added fat and reduce calories by about half.

Rice, white: See our substitute for rice.

Salad dressing: fat-free or reduced-calorie dressing; flavored vinegars

  • Fat-free or reduced-calorie dressings reduce calories, fat, and saturated fat but tend to increase sodium and added sugars.
  • Flavored vinegars typically do not have any calories, fat, or sodium.

Salt, table: See our substitute for salt.

Seasoning salt: See our substitute for seasoning salt.

Sour cream: See our substitute for sour cream.

Soy sauce: sweet-and-sour sauce, low-sodium soy sauce

  • Sweet-and-sour sauce has 66 percent less calories and 95 percent less sodium than soy sauce. However, it has three times the amount of carbohydrates and double the added sugar.
  • Low-sodium soy sauce has about 40 percent less calories and half the sodium of regular soy sauce.

Spice blends: See our substitute for spice blends.

Yogurt, fruit-flavor: plain low-fat yogurt with fresh fruit slices

Make healthy meals in a flash with our Fast & Healthy digital cookbook. Available for download now!

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