24 Best Substitutes for Unhealthy Foods

Best Substitutes for Unhealthy Foods
Photo by Couleur on Pixabay

Do you find yourself constantly tempted by unhealthy food? Are you looking for the best substitutes for unhealthy foods?

Eating healthier doesn’t have to mean giving up all of your cravings. Processed, fatty and sugary foods are often the most appealing and convenient snacks, but they can also be the most detrimental to our health.

Thankfully, with some simple substitutions, it’s possible to make much healthier versions of your favorite meals that cut down on calories and fat while still satisfying your cravings. 

If you’re looking for a way to stick to a healthy diet without sacrificing flavor, there’s nothing better than finding the best substitutes for unhealthy foods!

In this article, we’ll share some of our top ideas for healthier replacements that satisfy those tasty cravings.

1. Apples

by Neil Tackaberry is licensed under CC BY-ND 2.0

Packed with fiber and nutrients, apples are great for satisfying sweet cravings and make one of the best substitutes for unhealthy foods such as candy, cake, cookies, and chips. They’re also great for baking. 

2. Bananas

by THE Holy Hand Grenade! is licensed under CC BY-ND 2.0

Bananas are a great snack anytime, full of potassium and fiber. Use them as a topping on oatmeal or smoothie bowls instead of reaching for sugary cereal or adding syrups. 

3. Dates

by stu_spivack is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

Contrasting other fruity snacks like dried banana chips or juicy raisins, dates contain much fewer calories but still have a delicious sweet taste that can serve as the best substitutes for unhealthy foods such as candy bars or cake-like desserts. 

4. Berries

by David and Emma is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Rich in antioxidants and containing relatively low amounts of sugar compared to other fruits.

Berries make the perfect snack to reach for when craving something sweet without the guilt associated with unhealthy snacks like ice cream or gummy bears. 

5. Pineapple

by Smart Alex! is licensed under CC BY-ND 2.0

Buy it canned in unsweetened juices or fresh from your local grocery store – either way, pineapple is packed with vitamin C, which is known to help fight off infections and boost immunity – making it an ideal substitution over ice cream as a healthy treat! 

6. Melon

by srqpix is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Refreshing options like honeydew melon, watermelon, and cantaloupe are nutritious treats that provide valuable vitamins A and C along with dietary fiber – key components otherwise lacking in many processed foods – perfect as stand-alone nutrient-packed snacks or incorporated into recipes like fruit cocktails!

7. Greek Yogurt

Greek Yogurt
by osiristhe is licensed under CC BY-ND 2.0

Greek yogurt is one of the best substitutes for unhealthy foods like ice cream, as it is higher in protein and contains probiotics that help maintain gut health.

It can also be used to make creamy sauces, no-bake desserts, and other treats. 

The high protein content of Greek yogurt makes it one of the best substitutes for unhealthy foods like processed meats such as bacon or sausages.

A cup of non-fat Greek yogurt has more than double the amount of protein in the same portion size as processed meat while containing no cholesterol or saturated fat. 

Thanks to its creamy texture and mild flavor profile, Greek yogurt can be substituted for mayonnaise in sandwiches, salads, and dips.

It is much lower in calories, fat, and cholesterol than traditional mayo making it a healthier choice without sacrificing taste or texture. 

Greek yogurt can also replace sour cream when baking cakes, muffins, and quick loaves of bread due to its similar thickness and tangy flavor while providing additional nutrition from the high amounts of calcium and live active cultures present in the product. 

Ricotta cheese can often be replaced with Greek yogurt when making dishes such as lasagna or cannelloni.

This type of yogurt provides a smooth texture and creamy flavor without adding too much fat or calories to the meal.

Additionally, mixing boiled vegetables with plain Greek yogurt will provide a creamy dip much better for you than most store-bought varieties, which are loaded with artery-clogging trans fats.

8. Potato Chips

Potato Chips
by theimpulsivebuy is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

Potato chips can be the best substitutes for unhealthy foods if you make the right choices.

While regular potato chips are high in fat and salt, many healthier options can provide a crunchy snack without sacrificing flavor. 

Alternatives to regular potato chips include baked potato chips, vegetable chips (made from things like parsnips and beets), pita chips, popcorn, and seeds.

Baked potato chips still have some fat and calories but are usually less than regular fried versions.

Additionally, you can also find versions with no added artificial colors or flavors, trans fats, or preservatives. 

Vegetable chips are a great way to get more veggies into your diet because they’re made from various vegetables like squash, sweet potatoes, beets, parsnips, and carrots.

The vegetable ingredients add flavor and higher vitamin and mineral levels than traditional starchy white potatoes. 

Pita chips are a good option for those looking for a low-fat snack – they’re made with wheat flour instead of potatoes; some brands also use whole grains in their recipes.

Popcorn is another excellent alternative to fried potato chips – it’s low in fat but still provides satisfying crunchiness!

Finally, nuts and seeds provide healthy fats while delivering protein and other essential nutrients.

Like chips can be part of an overall healthy diet if you choose the right type with ingredients!

9. Fries

Fries are one of the best substitutes for unhealthy foods due to their high dietary fiber and protein content and relatively low calories and fat.

They also contain vitamins A and C and other minerals such as potassium and magnesium, which are important for overall health. 

Fries can make a great addition to any meal or snack because they provide an enjoyable flavor that can satisfy cravings for unhealthy food without having harmful effects on the body.

Additionally, since fries are vegetarian, they can be enjoyed by most people regardless of dietary restrictions.

Finally, because fries tend to be inexpensive and widely available, they make a convenient option when it comes to the best substitutes for unhealthy foods.

10. Mac and Cheese

Mac and Cheese
by jules:stonesoup is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Mac & cheese is the best substitute for unhealthy foods due to its high protein and dietary fiber content.

It is also low in sugar, which helps to reduce the risk of diabetes and heart disease. 

Mac & cheese contains vitamins, minerals, and amino acids that support healthy cell growth and development, including calcium, zinc, and magnesium. 

Replacing unhealthy fatty foods like chips or French fries with macaroni & cheese can help reduce saturated fat intake while providing a tasty snack for kids and adults alike. 

Macaroni & cheese is easy to make at home, and you can add vegetables like broccoli or spinach for added nutritional value to make it even healthier.

As a portion of comfort food, macaroni & cheese helps satisfy cravings without all the extra fat, calories, and artificial ingredients found in other popular processed comfort foods like candy bars or ice cream. 

Mac & cheese has fewer carbs than other carbohydrates like white slices of bread or portions of pasta, making it the best substitutes for unhealthy foods for those trying to watch their carb intakes while still getting essential nutrients like B vitamins and iron from grains such as wheat flour used in most boxed varieties of mac & cheese. 

Most packaged varieties of macaroni & cheese are fortified with Vitamin A, which can help support strong immunity systems as well as vision health, making it a great choice for busy families on the go who don’t have time to prepare fresh meals every night but still want their children to get the essential vitamins they need from dinner time staples like macaroni & cheese.

11. Candy

by .curt. is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Candy can be the best substitutes for unhealthy foods and desserts that are high in calories, fat, and sugar.

For example, dark chocolate pieces are much better for you than processed sugary snacks or store-bought cookies.

Similarly, hard candy such as lollipops or fruit-flavored jelly beans contains fewer calories and fat than processed treats like cakes, doughnuts, and pastries. 

Candy also provides an opportunity to satisfy cravings without feeling guilty afterward.

Many candy flavors are specifically designed to mimic the taste of traditional dessert items but with lower calorie content.

Even if you choose a higher-calorie option like chocolate-covered wafer bars, you can still enjoy the flavor experience without consuming as many empty calories as you would from a full-size cake or pan of brownies. 

Furthermore, candy comes in various shapes and sizes, making it easy to control portion sizes so that cravings can be indulged in moderation without overdoing it on the sugars and fats found in other types of snacks. 

Many types of candies come in individually wrapped packages as well, which allows people to snack on something sweet whenever they get the urge without having to eat a whole dessert all at once, which tends to lead to consuming more than is necessary or wanted due to lack of portion control options when eating certain foods directly out of the package/box they come in originally. 

Lastly, certain types of candy even incorporate superfood ingredients like nuts and fruits, which add nutritional value while still delivering the intense sweetness desired by some people who want something sugary yet satisfying to their sweet tooth needs sans overdoing it too much!

12. Pizza

by The Pizza Review is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Pizza can be one of the best substitutes for unhealthy foods such as fried chicken, burgers, and other takeout food items.

When choosing a pizza, focus on high-quality ingredients like fresh vegetables, lean proteins, and whole wheat dough to create a wholesome meal that is high in nutritional value. 

Make sure to limit the amount of cheese and saturated fats used in the topping to maintain the health benefits of the meal.

You can also use healthier alternatives to classic toppings, such as turkey bacon instead of regular bacon or mushroom slices instead of pepperoni slices, for added nutrition with fewer calories and fat than traditionally used toppings. 

Using whole wheat or cauliflower pizza crusts is also a better option than white processed crusts as they provide more fiber while still giving you that same delicious pizza taste you love!

Avoid pre-made frozen pizzas as they have additional additives that can quickly add up in terms of calories and unhealthy oils, which are not good for your diet overall.  

Enjoying pizza as the best substitutes for unhealthy foods is possible when making smart choices with ingredients and toppings – you don’t have to feel guilty about indulging occasionally!

13. Ice Cream

Ice Cream
by docguy is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Ice cream can be one of the best substitutes for unhealthy foods because it is lower in calories and fat than many other snacks and desserts.

Additionally, it’s usually packed with calcium, protein, and vitamins that are beneficial to our bodies.

Many types of ice cream range from low-fat to dairy-free options, so there’s something for everyone.

Furthermore, the sweetness of the ice cream can easily satisfy someone’s sweet tooth without all of the extra sugar often found in other unhealthy treats.

In fact, if you add toppings like berries or nuts, you can increase the health benefits even more!

Plus, eating a cold treat like ice cream can help beat the heat and provide a refreshing break in the middle of a hot day.

14. Pasta

by Jun Acullador is licensed under CC BY-ND 2.0

It is one of the best substitutes for unhealthy foods because it contains complex carbohydrates, which are slow-digesting and provide a steady supply of energy that lasts longer than sugars or other simple carbohydrates.

It is also fiber-rich, providing the digestive system with essential nutrients that help keep you fuller for longer and regulate bowel movements. 

Pasta is low in fat and calories, making it an excellent choice for those trying to watch their weight.

It has a low glycemic index which helps control blood sugar levels while providing sustained energy throughout the day, so you can avoid feeling lethargic after meals. 

Also, pasta contains important vitamins and minerals such as iron, folic acid, selenium, thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, B-6, and Vitamin A.

These are all important for overall health and can help reduce inflammation in the body caused by bad dietary choices. 

Lastly, pasta dishes can be customized with healthy ingredients like vegetables and lean proteins to give your meal added nutrition without taking away from the taste or texture of the dish!

15. Pancakes

by TheCulinaryGeek is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Pancakes can be the best substitutes for unhealthy foods because they are relatively easy to make, and their versatile mix of ingredients makes them both delicious and nutritious.

On the other hand, Pancakes contain proteins, carbohydrates, fats, vitamins, and minerals – all important components of a healthy diet.

Pancake recipes vary from sweet to savory, so you can always find a pancake that suits your taste buds. 

Furthermore, pancakes pair well with many different kinds of toppings or fillings, such as fruits, nuts, or honey.

This makes them a great breakfast food as they offer many essential nutrients but don’t contain any extra sugar or unhealthy fat, often in processed packaged foods. 

Lastly, pancakes’ spongy texture also helps keep you full longer than other unhealthy snacks like snack bars or chips, which tend to be more calorie-dense and not very satiating.

Therefore adding pancakes to your diet is the best way to substitute for unhealthy foods.

16. Chia Pudding

Chia Pudding
by ljguitar is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Chia seeds are a great source of fiber, protein, and omega-3 fatty acids and can be the best substitutes for unhealthy foods like sugary dessert bars and chocolate.

Nevertheless, Chia pudding is quick to make and can be enjoyed as a nutritious snack or breakfast option. 

17. Overnight Oats

Overnight Oats
by Sebastiaan ter Burg is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Oatmeal is a filling and nutritious breakfast that provides energy throughout the day.

Making oatmeal overnight with your favorite ingredients helps you avoid the temptation to reach for something unhealthy. 

18. Coconut Yogurt

Dairy-free yogurt made from coconut milk has all the creaminess of traditional yogurt with few calories and less sugar than regular yogurt or ice cream.

It’s full of healthy fats and protein that help keep you feeling full for longer. 

19. Avocado Mousse

Avocados are a delicious way to satisfy cravings for something sweet without added sugar.

Blend avocados, cocoa powder, almond milk, honey (or another sweetener), vanilla extract, cinnamon, and optional flavors like nut butter or shredded coconut for an indulgent treat that won’t wreak havoc on your waistline! 

20. Banana Soft Serve

Bananas are naturally sweet, full of vitamins and minerals, high in fiber, and easy to transform into virtually anything with only a few ingredients—including “ice cream.”

You can freeze sliced bananas in advance, then blend them with nuts or even soaked dates for a delightful frozen treat that won’t derail your health goals!

Cookie Dough
by wuestenigel is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Cookie dough is one of the best substitutes for unhealthy foods. It offers a delicious and satisfying treat without the added calories and sugar found in sugary snacks or indulgent desserts.

It can be made using wholesome ingredients such as oats, nut kinds of butter, and dark chocolate chips for added nutrients and natural sweetness.

Furthermore, cookie dough recipes, such as gluten-free or vegan diets, can often be manipulated to accommodate special dietary needs.

Cookie dough has a more balanced sugar content than some traditional foods like candy or ice cream.

Its sweetness can be controlled by adjusting certain ingredients, such as the amount of honey or maple syrup used in the recipe. 

As cookie dough requires no cooking time, it is ready to eat immediately, making it an excellent alternative for when you’re short on time but still want something tasty and fulfilling.

Cooking with cookie dough can also provide variety; you can switch up your flavors by adding different components like peanut butter or different types of nuts – making every batch unique! 

Store-bought cookie dough varieties are also available, which offer convenience without compromising on taste – these are typically low-calorie and contain no added preservatives.

Hence, they are better for your health than other store-bought snack options.

22. Chocolate

by Clint__Budd is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Chocolate is one of the best substitutes for unhealthy foods such as chips, cookies, and other processed and sugary treats.

Dark chocolate is especially beneficial in this regard since it contains natural antioxidants and minerals such as copper and magnesium that are beneficial to the body. 

Chocolate offers an effective way for people to satisfy their sweet cravings without compromising their health.

Many people turn to sugary or processed snacks when feeling down or stressed out, but dark chocolate can provide just as much pleasure without the added sugar or fat that many unhealthy snacks contain. 

Chocolate can also be enjoyed guilt-free because it contains a number of essential vitamins and minerals, such as iron, magnesium, and zinc, that are essential for the body’s optimal functioning.

Additionally, dark chocolate is full of healthy fats that help to satiate hunger pangs while providing nutrients like oleic acid, which facilitates heart health. 

Dark chocolate also helps fight off cravings caused by hunger hormones because it increases levels of serotonin – the neurotransmitter responsible for feelings of happiness – in the brain, making it easier to resist unhealthy cravings in favor of more nutritious options like dark chocolate instead.

Certain types of chocolate can also help reduce inflammation in the body due to its antioxidant properties which act as a natural defense against free radicals that can cause cell damage over time if left unchecked.

Since dark chocolate is high in fiber content, it helps people feel fuller longer without giving in to sugar cravings from overly sweet snack foods or feeling deprived due to caloric restrictions from diet plans, which often make people hungrier throughout the day time. 

Chocolate also comes in a variety of flavors. Hence, there’s no shortage of ways for people to enjoy different types depending on their taste preferences which means that consuming healthier substitutes doesn’t have to be boring or bland.

23. Soda

by mdid is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Soda can be used as one of the best substitutes for unhealthy foods that are high in fat, sugar, and calories.

By replacing sugary snacks or fried foods with soda, you can reduce your daily caloric intake and still have something sweet to drink.

Drinking soda can help satisfy your cravings for sweet or salty treats without packing on additional weight.

Sodas typically contain fewer calories than the same size portion of unhealthy food items such as candy bars or chips. 

Soda is widely available and easy to find in many stores, so it’s an easy option when you’re looking for a quick snack or beverage to tide you over between meals.

Sodas come in various flavors that can satisfy all sorts of cravings for sweetness, salty, or sour flavors.

They may even provide energy-boosting benefits due to the added caffeine content. When consumed in moderation, sodas do not pose any health risks.

They may even offer nutritional benefits from certain ingredients, like vitamins in some soda varieties, which can boost energy without drinking too much sugar and calories. 

Diet sodas are an especially good alternative for those looking to cut out unhealthy sugars altogether.

They contain artificial sweeteners instead of regular sugar that could add more unwanted calories to your diet if consumed heavily over time.

24. Mashed Potatoes

Mashed Potatoes
by hsivonen is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Mashed potatoes can be one of the best substitutes for unhealthy foods, such as deep-fried or processed foods.

However, Mashed potatoes are made with simple ingredients, including potatoes, butter, and milk.

Compared to other unhealthy alternatives, mashed potatoes contain significantly fewer calories, fat, and sodium per serving. They are also packed with vitamins and minerals that can benefit your health.

In particular, mashed potatoes provide a good source of potassium – an essential mineral that helps regulate blood pressure – as well as vitamin C and B6 which can help to boost the immune system.

The dietary fiber found in mashed potatoes also helps to fill you up faster while satisfying hunger cravings at the same time. 

In terms of taste and texture, mashed potatoes offer a creamy yet savory flavor that is sure to please nearly any palate.

Most importantly, they make a quick and easy meal or side dish that can be enjoyed whenever desired!


Making healthier eating decisions does not mean you have to give up all the foods you love and enjoy.

Many best substitutes for unhealthy foods provide delicious flavors and nutritional benefits. 

By incorporating these substitutes into your diet, you can still enjoy the tastes you crave while feeling great about your food choices.

Eating healthy can be a truly rewarding experience with the right knowledge and creativity.

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