Smart subs: Sensible switches for healthier eating

You're already cutting back on calories, sipping sparkling water instead of soda, slathering sandwiches with mustard (10 calories per tablespoon) instead of mayo (57 calories per tablespoon) and making vegetable dips with plain yogurt (149 calories per cup) instead of sour cream (444 calories per cup).

Maybe it's time to tweak your focus.

"Calories aren't bad. They're energy, and we need them to function," said Bethany Thayer, a registered dietitian with Detroit's Henry Ford Health System and a spokeswoman for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.

"More strategic eating involves getting the nutrients you need for the calories you consume."

Calories. Sodium. Fat. Protein. What do you need to add or subtract from your diet? Consider these smart switches or substitutions.

Flank steak of boneless rib-eye?

"When purchasing beef, the more marbling, the higher it is in fat," Thayer said of those fat streaks running through meat.

Flank steak, trimmed, broiled (100 grams/3.75 ounces): 192 calories, 27.66 grams protein, 8.23 grams fat

Boneless rib-eye, trimmed, grilled (100 grams/3.75 ounces): 271 calories, 24.85 grams protein, 19.02 grams fat

Butter or Parmesan cheese?

"With the cheese you're getting a few nutrients, calcium and protein; with butter it's mostly fat," she said. "And a harder, more flavorful cheese lets you get away with using less." And that can mean less calories on baked potatoes, popcorn, steamed vegetables.

1 tablespoon Parmesan cheese: 22 calories, 1.92 grams protein, 1.43 grams fat, 55 mg calcium

1 tablespoon salted butter: 102 calories, 0.12 grams protein, 11.52 grams fat, 3 mg calcium

Bacon strips or Canadian bacon?

"Both are high in sodium, but Canadian bacon has less fat," she said.

1 slice Canadian bacon (about 23.5 grams): 43 calories, 1.98 grams fat, 363 mg sodium

3 slices cured pork bacon (cooked, about 24 grams): 130 calories, 10.03 grams fat, 554 grams sodium.

Cream cheese or Neufchatel cheese?

"The texture and flavor is similar, but you'll save calories."

Cream cheese (1 ounce/2 tablespoons): 97 calories, 1.68 grams protein, 9.71 grams fat, 28 mg calcium

Neufchatel cheese (1 ounce/2 tablespoons): 72 calories, 2.59 grams protein, 6.46 grams fat, 33 mg calcium

Peanut butter or lower-fat peanut butter?

Read labels carefully when choosing "low-fat" or "low-sugar" foods. "Often you'll find calories are similar," Thayer said, noting sugar may be added to make up for the fat taken out, or fat may be added for sugar taken out.

2 tablespoons smooth peanut butter with salt: 188 calories, 8.03 grams protein, 16.12 grams fat, 6.26 grams carbohydrates, 147 mg sodium

2 tablespoons smooth peanut butter, reduced fat: 187 calories, 9.32 grams protein, 12.24 grams fat, 12.83 grams carbohydrates, 194 mg sodium

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