Western diet food swaps to live longer and healthier

Foods common to our Western diet have been found to decrease the length and quality of life. Try swapping in these foods from more tradiional diets

Diets full of modern food favourites including red meat, dairy and even white bread have been found shorten our lives and cause us ill health earlier in our lives.

New research has linked the typical Western diet, high in sugar, salt, fat and processed foods to poorer overall health and earlier death than those eating more traditional foodstuffs.

Swap Western favourites including white pasta and red meat for healthier alternatives ©Rex

The US study published in the American Journal of Medicine, looked at the diets of 5,000 British civil servants and pointed the finger at butter, cream, red meat, fried foods and sugary treats.

Those who ate the most of these foods saw their risk of ill health and premature death double. And with heart disease the biggest killer in the UK, it's time we paid heed to the warnings.


To help improve your health and give you the best chance at a long, healthy life, try our healthy (and tasty) food swaps:

Swap:
Butter for mashed avocado - use this as a spread on bread or in sandwiches. Traditionally eaten in huge amounts in South America, it gives a creamy texture that's full of good fats and low in saturated fat.

Avocado on toast and in sandwich is a healthy way to get a creamy texture ©Rex

Swap:
Creamy pasta sauces for tomato and herb versions. This will cut down on calories and making them from scratch means they're dairy-free. Flavour with oregano or basil and spicy chilli to make pasta interesting.

Swap:
Spaghetti bolognese for stir fried veggie noodles. Incorporate Asian cooking into your diet with quick, easy stir fries, packed with vegetables (throw in whatever you have) and noodles or rice. Fry in rapeseed oil, which retains its nutrition at high temperatures.


Swap:
Pasta-based dishes for rice. Home-made curries using spices for flavouring and coconut milk rather than cream to thicken are a great alternative to heavy carbs.

Swap:
White bread, pasta and rice for brown, wholegrain bread, wholewheat pasta and brown rice. More flavoursome, these contain far more of the nutrients and fibre you body needs. Try quinoa as a alternative to rice for a super-grain boost.

Grilled salmon is quick, easy and healthy ©Rex

Swap:
Takeaways and ready meals for steam-in-the-bag veggies and pre-marinated pack of fish or chicken. This will grill in around 10 minutes - quicker than you can make a call to your local pizza delivery service - and washing up is minimal.


Swap:
Red meat for fish, chicken or quorn. Red meat has had plenty of bad press lately. It does contain important nutrition such as iron but keep it to small portions and if you eat it more than two or three times a week try exchanging it for white meat such as chicken or turkey, fish or even a veggie alternative such as tofu or quorn.

A good way to start introducing meat alternatives into your diet is with a quorn mince bolognase or chilli - it's highly flavoured with other ingredients and the texture is similar to minced beef. See if anyone in your family notices the change...

Swap:
Fried fish or chicken for grilled with herbs and a squeeze of lemon. Both of these are healthier alternatives to red meat but avoid adding extra saturated fats by ditching the deep fry and choosing the grill instead.

Swap:
Sweets
for fruit. Fruit is naturally sugar so if your sweet tooth is crying for a fix, try a bowl of fruit salad or pack of raisins. Eat sparingly though, sugar is sugar, however natural.
Try alternative puddings to indulge your sweet tooth ©Rex

Swap:
Cakes and puddings for rice pudding with coconut milk. Try the Thai dessert of rice pudding with coconut milk instead of dairy. You can buy traditional sticky rice in most supermarkets these days, or try a Chinese shop or market. Flavour and sweeten with mango or pineapple.

A few simple swaps could not only lengthen your life but also help you stay healthier for longer. When choosing what to eat try to go for wholegrains and only eat red meat, diary and sugary treats as just that - treats. It'll be worth it in the long run.

Do you have any diet swaps to share? Tell us on Twitter.