Comparing Similar Foods for Eating Healthier

brown and white rice

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Ever wonder about the difference between two seemingly similar foods? Is one option really that much better than the other? Let's put several of those duos in a head-to-head face-off.

Brown Rice vs. White Rice

When brown rice first became popular, it was touted as the “healthier” option. But is there any truth to the claim?

The reason brown rice is usually considered healthier is that it's less processed than white rice. The brown rice retains more fiber, vitamins, and nutrients. Brown rice contains more protein and fatty acids, but it also has more carbs.

A 100-gram serving of cooked white rice has about 37 grams of carbs vs. the 30 grams in brown rice. Brown rice contains about 142 calories per 100 grams, while the same amount of white rice has about 162 calories.

White Potato vs. Sweet Potato

Both these potatoes contain a fair amount of fiber. They also pack in several vitamins (like vitamin C) and minerals (such as potassium).

Sweet potatoes have more vitamins and minerals than white potatoes. A large sweet potato contains 162 calories, while a large white potato contains 275 calories. Sweet potatoes are more flavorful and contain more nutrients.

Almond Milk vs. Skim Milk

Your head may spin from all the milk options on the market these days. A good choice is unsweetened vanilla almond milk, a non-dairy pick with only about 28 calories per 240ml. The same serving of skim milk contains 79 calories.

Which milk you choose depends on what's most important to you. If you're watching your sugar, unsweetened almond milk has less than 1 gram, while skim milk has 11 grams from naturally occurring sugar, lactose. But you get 8 grams of protein from a cup of skim milk and only 1 gram from almond.

If you experience gastrointestinal issues from lactose, go for almond milk over skim. But if calcium is a concern, skim milk is for you.

Turkey Burgers vs. Beef Burgers

Don’t be fooled; a turkey burger isn’t necessarily lower in calories than a beef burger. Restaurants tend to use high-fat turkey since the leaner kind can dry out quickly.

Your best bet is to make your own burgers at home. At the grocery store, reach for lean ground turkey (7% fat) which has around 170 calories and 9.4 grams of fat per 4-ounce serving.

If you prefer beef, pick up extra-lean ground beef (3% fat), which clocks in with about 137 calories and 3.4 grams of fat per 4-ounce serving. Unlike extra-lean turkey, extra-lean beef is juicy and delicious, perfect for diet-friendly burgers.

Butter vs. Margarine

You may think that margarine is a smart alternative, but butter is the real nutritional winner since it contains less harmful trans fat than margarine. However, both contain a similar number of calories: about 100 calories per tablespoon.

Opt for light whipped butter or light buttery spread, which has only around 45 calories per tablespoon—making it a major calorie saver.

Old-Fashioned Oats vs. Steel-Cut Oats

Unlike instant oats, which are processed and have a higher glycemic index, you're in good hands with either of these nutrient-dense oats. The main difference between the two is the way they're made: steel-cut oats are chopped, while old-fashioned are rolled. Each has about 150 calories per serving. 

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  1. USDA. Cooked Brown Rice. March 19, 2021.

  2. USDA. Organic Cooked White Rice. March 19, 2021.

  3. USDA. Sweet potato, cooked, baked in skin, flesh, without salt. April 1, 2019.

  4. USDA. Potatoes, white, flesh and skin, baked. April 1, 2019.

  5. USDA. UNSWEETENED VANILLA ALMOND MILK, UNSWEETENED VANILLA. March 19, 2021.

  6. USDA. Skim milk. March 19, 2021.

  7. USDA. Turkey, ground, 93% lean, 7% fat, raw. April 1, 2019.

  8. USDA. Beef, ground, 97% lean meat / 3% fat, raw. April 1, 2019

  9. USDA. Margarine-like, margarine-butter blend, soybean oil and butter. April 1, 2019.

  10. USDA. Steel cut oats. March 19, 2021.

  11. USDA. Old fashioned oats. March 19, 2021.