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Heart Health Center

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Modify Recipes for a Heart-Healthy Diet - Topic Overview

You don't have to abandon all your favorite recipes to eat healthier. Several small changes to your current recipes can often greatly lower the saturated fat and sodium in your diet.

These small changes can make a big difference in the amount of fat and calories in your diet. But they won't make much difference in how your meals taste or how much you enjoy them. Here are some ideas for making heart-healthy changes in your recipes.

Recipe modifications

Instead of:


1 cup shortening or lard ¾ cup canola or olive oil
1 cup oil (baking) ¼ cup oil and ½ 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 ½ cup chocolate chips

To eat less fat, salt, and cholesterol, try these 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. Then 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. Try 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. (This is about the size of a deck of cards.) Trim fat from meat. 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 you stir-fry, use a small amount of oil. If foods start to stick, use water, wine, broth, or tomato juice to add moisture. Don't add 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.

WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: March 12, 2014
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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