Modify Recipes for a Heart-Healthy Diet

Browse By All Topics


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 lard¾ 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 cream1 cup evaporated skim milk
1 cup sour cream 1 cup low-fat or fat-free yogurt or sour cream
1 cup cheddar cheese1 cup low-fat cheddar cheese
8 oz cream cheese8 oz light cream cheese
4 oz skim ricotta and 4 oz tofu blended
1 can cream of chicken soup1 can low-fat cream soup
1 lb ground beef 1 lb ground turkey or 1 lb diet lean ground beef (93% fat-free)
6 oz tuna in oil6 oz tuna in water
2 eggs 4 egg whites or an equal amount of egg substitute
1 cup chocolate chips½ 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 foodBaking, 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 fatUsing 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 yolksEating 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.]


ByHealthwise Staff
Primary Medical ReviewerRakesh K. Pai, MD, FACC - Cardiology, Electrophysiology
Specialist Medical ReviewerColleen Gobert, PhD, RD - Registered Dietitian
Last RevisedSeptember 1, 2012

This information does not replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise, Incorporated disclaims any warranty or liability for your use of this information. Your use of this information means that you agree to the Terms of Use.

How this information was developed to help you make better health decisions.

© 1995-2012 Healthwise, Incorporated. Healthwise, Healthwise for every health decision, and the Healthwise logo are trademarks of Healthwise, Incorporated.