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    Modify Recipes for a Heart-Healthy Diet

    Modify Recipes for a Heart-Healthy Diet

    Topic Overview

    You don't have to abandon all your favorite recipes to eat healthier. Several small modifications to your current recipes can often greatly lower the fat, saturated fat, cholesterol, and/or calories in your diet.

    These small changes in your current recipes can make a big difference in your intake of fat and calories without significantly affecting the taste or enjoyment of your favorite meals. Some suggestions for making heart-healthy substitutions in your recipes are given below.

    Recipe modifications

    Instead of:


    1 cup shortening or lard cup canola or olive oil
    1 cup oil (baking) cup oil and cup applesauce
    1 cup whole milk 1 cup fat-free milk
    1 cup heavy cream 1 cup evaporated skim milk
    1 cup sour cream 1 cup low-fat or fat-free yogurt or sour cream
    1 cup cheddar cheese 1 cup low-fat cheddar cheese
    8 oz cream cheese 8 oz light cream cheese
    4 oz skim ricotta and 4 oz tofu blended
    1 can cream of chicken soup 1 can low-fat cream soup
    1 lb ground beef 1 lb ground turkey or 1 lb extra-lean ground beef (97% lean)
    6 oz tuna in oil 6 oz tuna in water
    2 eggs 4 egg whites or an equal amount of egg substitute
    1 cup chocolate chips cup chocolate chips

    To eat less fat, salt, and cholesterol, use the following tips while you cook.

    Heart-healthy cooking tips

    Instead of:


    Frying your food Baking, broiling, steaming, poaching, or grilling your food
    Eating convenience foods (canned soups, TV dinners, frozen pizza) Eating fresh fish, meats, fruits, and vegetables. Or look for low-salt convenience foods and make a balanced meal by adding a fruit, a vegetable, and low-fat or fat-free milk.
    Using butter or other fats high in saturated fat Using products low in saturated fat, such as olive oil, vegetable oil, canola oil, or chicken broth
    Using salt, soy sauce, or barbecue sauce Using herbs, spices, or lemon
    Eating all of the meat product Eating a 2 oz to 3 oz serving of meat (which is about the size of a deck of cards). Trim fat from meat, and remove skin from chicken.
    Eating egg yolks Eating egg whites or egg substitutes

    More tips for reducing fat in recipes

    • Reduce the amount of fat in the recipe by half (this can often be done without having a major effect on the final product).
    • Use nonstick pans and nonstick cooking sprays to cut down on the amount of fat used in cooking.
    • When stir-frying, use a small amount of oil. If foods begin to stick, use water, wine, broth, or tomato juice to add moisture rather than adding more oil or other fat.
    • When making pies, omit the high-fat pastry crusts.
    • Experiment with herbs, spices, or even lemon to add flavor to low-fat foods.


    Other Works Consulted

    • American Heart Association (2006). Diet and lifestyle recommendations revision 2006. Circulation, 114(1): 82?96. [Erratum in Circulation, 114(1): e27.]


    By Healthwise Staff
    Rakesh K. Pai, MD, FACC - Cardiology, Electrophysiology
    Colleen Gobert, PhD, RD - Registered Dietitian
    Last Revised July 15, 2013

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