7 Simple Lunch Swaps That Get More Fruits & Veggies Into Your Day

mushrooms lunch burgers healthy

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There is no shortage of scales, apps, and diets that count pounds, calories, and other data translating your lunch eating habits (or any meal time) into numbers.

However, when it comes to holistic, optimal health, the quality of your food matters.

While eating refined, processed foods are known to increase inflammation, diabetes, and insulin resistance, eating nutrient-dense foods help your body stave off disease and function better, from immune system and muscle function, to heart and blood health, and even eye health.

In honor of September Fruits & Veggies – More Matters Month, we’re offering up some simple lunchtime swaps you can make to pack more whole, fresh foods into your day.

If you want to start getting greater nutritional value, fiber, and phytochemicals from your food, here are just a few suggestions of how to incorporate small changes into your daily eating habits. Small changes over time help toward larger goals, and lead to sustainable change.

7 Simple Lunchtime Swaps

1 & 2. For Sandwiches and crackers…

Try swapping out your slices for two portobello mushroom caps to reimagine your sandwich. Zucchini coins can also sub in for what you would typically put on crackers, such as hummus, smoked salmon, guacamole. Both mushrooms and zucchini are high in potassium. Potassium helps maintain the correct balance of electrolytes  in the body as well as the right chemical balance of acids and bases.

3. For chips…

Try swapping out chips for crunchy red bell pepper strips, which are high in vitamin C.

Vitamin C is needed by the body to form collagen in bones, cartilage, muscle, and blood vessels. Vitamin C also appears to improve absorption of iron or iron supplements taken orally. Because your body doesn’t produce vitamin C, you need to get it from your diet, as detailed by the Mayo Clinic.

4. For rice…

Have you ever tried riced cauliflower? Run a few florettes through the food processor until it looks like rice, and then you can steam or roast + season, or put under a bed of your favorite protein for a more nutrition-packed rice bowl. Cauliflower is high in fiber, and is also a great prebiotic. A prebiotic is a type of dietary fiber that stimulates the growth of the healthy bacteria in your gut.

5 & 6. For starchy wraps and side dishes…

If you like wraps and tacos, try swapping in a sturdy, crunchy, lighter alternative to a processed tortillas with Napa cabbage leaves. As a side dish, try swapping in a baked sweet potato in place of a regular white baked potato. Both Napa cabbage and sweet potatoes are high in antioxidants, which help fight inflammation.

7. For dressings…

Try swapping out heavy and processed dressings for yummy, creamy avocado slices. Avocados are high in monounsaturated fat. Monounsaturated fats may also keep “good” HDL cholesterol levels high; This may lower your risk of heart disease.

Overall, eating foods that are high in monounsaturated, polyunsaturated, and Omega-3 fats may help lower your “bad” LDL cholesterol. Check out Why Fat Doesn’t Make You Fat (and what kinds to eat).

Avocados are also high in B9 (folate/folic acid), an essential vitamin in the production of many cells, including red and white blood cells. Healthy folate levels support nerve function, bone and brain health, and help prevent serious birth defects of the spinal cord and brain.

B9 is an essential vitamin in the production of many cells, including red and white blood cells. Healthy folate levels support nerve function, bone and brain health, and help prevent serious birth defects of the spinal cord and brain.

What’s Next?

This is just a sample of ways you can make small changes to habits you may already have. What are other small changes you can, or have already, made? Let us know in the comments.

Have you ever had a few leg cramps and figured, “I just get those from time to time”? What about poor fingernail growth or restless nights? While these daily observances can be easily written off, the reality is that these issues may be your body’s way of alerting you of potential bigger problems. Check out 7 Important Minerals and the Signs that You Could Be Deficient.

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The posts on this blog are for information only, and are not intended to substitute for a doctor-patient or other healthcare professional-patient relationship nor do they constitute medical or healthcare advice of any kind. Any information in these posts should not be acted upon without consideration of primary source material and professional input from one's own healthcare professionals.