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11 Simple Steps to a Healthier Diet

Take the easy route to healthy eating.
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WebMD Feature

Do you think eating healthy means you have to radically change your diet and give up all your favorite foods? Think again. Improving your health could be as easy as switching from white to whole-wheat bread, adding a tablespoon of ground flaxseed to your afternoon yogurt, or ordering your favorite coffee drink with skim milk instead of whole. Making little changes to your diet can add up to BIG health benefits.

Here are 11 steps you can take to improve your diet starting today. Do them all if you can.

Healthy Eating Tip No. 1: Switch to 100% whole-wheat or whole-grain bread.

Just switching to whole grains from refined grain products benefits your body about 10 different ways, from lengthening your life span to helping control weight to reducing your risk of type 2 diabetes, heart disease, stroke, and cancer.

Every sandwich made with 100% whole wheat bread instead of white bread, for example, adds about 4 grams of fiber along with an assortment of vitamins, minerals, and phytochemicals.

Healthy Eating Tip No. 2: Use mustard on sandwiches instead of mayo.

Mayonnaise or mayo-based spreads are one of the worst condiment choices because they're usually high in calories, fat grams, and omega-6 fatty acids.

Every sandwich made with a teaspoon of mustard instead of a tablespoon of mayonnaise, for example, trims 100 calories, 11 grams of fat, 1.5 grams saturated fat, and 7.2 grams omega-6 fatty acids from your daily total.

Healthy Eating Tip No. 3: Make your oatmeal with skim or 1% milk instead of water.

Whether you prefer instant or regular oatmeal, this simple step will boost the protein and calcium in your breakfast. Using 2/3 cup of skim milk instead of water adds 6 grams of quality protein, 255 milligrams (mg) potassium, 205 mg calcium, 14% of the Recommended Dietary Intake for vitamin B-12, and 67 international units (IU) of vitamin D.

Healthy Eating Tip No. 4: Add a little ground flaxseed to yogurt and smoothies.

Do this every time you reach for a yogurt or order a smoothie. Adding 2 tablespoons of flaxseed adds 4 grams of fiber, 2.4 grams of healthy plant omega-3s fatty acids, and some healthy phytoestrogens (lignans) to your snack.

Healthy Eating Tip No. 5: Use spinach leaves instead of iceberg lettuce in salads.

A 4-cup serving of raw spinach leaves has 20 milligrams of omega-3s, 9800 IU vitamin A, 5,890 micrograms (mcg) of beta-carotene, 260 mg potassium, 26 mg Vitamin C, 150 mcg folic acid, 2 mg vitamin E, and 68 mg calcium more than the same-size serving of iceberg lettuce.

Healthy Eating Tip No. 6: Drink unsweetened tea instead of sweetened tea or soda.

A serving of bottled or canned sweetened tea, sweetened tea from a restaurant, or soda has about 140 calories and 32 grams of sugar per 12-ounce serving. Switching to unsweetened tea can save 7,840 calories and 448 teaspoons of sugar per month if you drink about 2 servings of soda or sweetened tea a day.

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