Heart Healthy Food Substitution Ideas


For many people, the one thing standing between them and a healthy heart is the thought of giving up their favorite foods. We seem to naturally gravitate toward high-fat foods that are swimming in butter or covered in cheese. But changing a bad-for-you favorite into a heart-smart choice is simple. You don't have to sacrifice flavor for good health, you just have to make a few alterations.


Eggs are no longer considered the great dietary evil they once were, but they are a major source of cholesterol. If your recipe calls for a single large egg, use two egg whites instead and discard the yolks. For recipes that call for more than one egg, use twice as many whites as yolks. For example, if the recipe calls for four eggs, use two whole eggs and four egg whites. This reduces the cholesterol without significantly altering the flavor or texture of the finished product. Alternatively, most supermarkets carry a range of egg substitutes. Replace each egg with ¼ cup or use them on their own for scrambled eggs and omelets.

Fats & Oils

You can replace any unhealthy fats, such as lard, coconut oil or shortening, with healthy fats, such as olive, sesame, soybean, sunflower or canola oil. You also can reduce the amount of oil you're using. For stir-fries or for browning meats and vegetables, use 2 tsp. of oil rather than 1 tbsp., or leave it out entirely and coat the pan with non-fat cooking spray. In recipes, you generally can reduce the amount called for by 25 percent to 30 percent without noticeably changing the final results. For baked goods, such as muffins or quick breads, replace all or part of the fat called for with applesauce, pureed pumpkin or mashed banana. Replace the butter on your table with a zero-calorie butter alternative or switch to a spreadable blend containing yogurt, olive oil or sunflower oil.

Dairy Products

Dairy products are high in calcium and vitamin D, so you should not restrict your intake of them. However, to achieve optimum health, full-fat dairy products should be exchange for reduced-fat or fat-free versions. For example, you can substitute plain low-fat yogurt for sour cream and reduce your fat intake by more than 40 grams. Use 1 percent or skim milk in your cereal and put a slice of mozzarella on your sandwich instead of American cheese. In casseroles or hot dishes, you can reduce the fat without sacrificing flavor by choosing your ingredients wisely. For example, you can easily reduce the amount of cheese in any given recipe by 25 percent if you choose a stronger-flavored variety, such as extra-sharp cheddar rather than mild. Additionally, you can replace heavy cream with evaporated milk or half-and half and end up with a reduced-calorie version of your favorite cream soups.

About this Author

Lisa Parris is a freelance writer covering a variety of topics, particularly health and wellness. Her work has appeared in various publications, including the "Journal of Comparative Parasitology" and "The Monterey County Herald." She holds a bachelor's degree in biology from Peru State College.

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