Four healthy foods that are surprisingly high in SmartPoints®

Plus, smart swaps to keep them on the menu!
Published April 1, 2020

Have you recently realized your favourite healthy food is significantly higher in SmartPoints than you imagined? Put your mind at ease with this guide that addresses four healthy foods that pack a SmartPoints punch, why they’re an important part of a healthy diet as well as simple hacks to ensure they remain a part of your meal plan. 


1. Avocado


Whether you enjoy them on their own, in guacamole or spread on toast, avocados are an excellent source of fibre and omega-3 fatty acids, a type of essential fat that can only be obtained through diet. The downside? Avocados have a relatively high SmartPoints value — 1/4 of a medium-sized avocado is 5 SmartPoints on Green, Blue, and Purple. 


Try this instead: The next time you have a craving for guacamole or avocado toast, try adding mashed sweet green peas (frozen is fine) to the avocado. Mashed green peas will not only mimic the creamy texture of avocado, they’ll also contribute plenty of satiating protein and fibre to your meal. Green peas are 2 SmartPoints per ½ cup on Green, and 0 SmartPoints for Blue and Purple!


2. Nuts 


Nuts are a classic snack food for a reason, they’re an excellent source of monounsaturated fat and fibre while containing modest amounts of protein. Unfortunately, the fact that they’re an excellent source of healthy fats means that they tend to have higher SmartPoints values for a relatively small serving, about 6 SmartPoints per ¼ cup.


Try this instead: Love trail mix? Make a lighter version using a modest serving of lower SmartPoints nuts such as pistachios, cashews or almonds and add roasted chickpeas or edamame (both high in fibre and protein), dried cherries, dark chocolate chips, shredded wheat or puffed rice. If you enjoy nuts in the form of nut butter, try adding a heaping tablespoon of firm Greek yogourt to your nut butter or substitute hummus (depending on your preferences, you can experiment with sweet and savoury versions of this Middle Eastern staple.)


3. Chia seeds


Packed with fibre, protein and antioxidants, chia seeds can be used to make a tapioca-like pudding, they can add bulk to smoothies and water or they can be sprinkled on top of salads. While the nutritional benefits of chia seeds are undeniable, they do have a higher SmartPoints value than other similarly nutrient-rich foods. 


Try this instead: If you regularly enjoy the satiating properties of chia pudding or chia seeds added to your smoothie, there’s no reason to cut this ultra-healthy food from your meal plan. If you’re looking to lower your daily SmartPoints, try substituting half the chia seeds in your smoothie with a ½ cup of blueberries or blackberries — both types of berry are an excellent source of dietary fibre.


4. Coconut


Coconut milk and coconut meat are both high in manganese, a micronutrient that plays an important role in bone health, as well as containing a modest amount of protein. Coconut is very high in medium-chain triglycerides (or MCTs), a highly efficient type of fat that is absorbed directly from the small intestine to be used for energy — a single cup of raw coconut contains 27 grams of fat, 24 of which are saturated fat. 


Try this instead: Love the taste of coconut meat? Add a small sprinkling of shaved coconut to a tropical fruit salad, yogourt parfait or bowl of oats. If you regularly add coconut milk to curries and other savoury dishes, try substituting half the coconut milk with vegetable stock or steamed and pureed cauliflower. Sweetened recipes calling for coconut milk can be partially substituted with regular dairy milk or your preferred non-dairy milk.