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5 best heart healthy recipe variations

With the right know how you can enjoy fresh ingredients while avoiding all those high-fat, high-sugar, and high-sodium processed foods. Best of all, you can learn how to guard your heart with these simple changes to your favorite recipes. Check out the 5 best heart healthy recipe variations below.

1) Substitute whole grains for refined white flour

It’s hard to find a baked good recipe that doesn’t use all-purpose flour. But refined white flour is a poor ingredient if you’re looking for lots of heart healthy nutrition. Whole wheat flour and other whole grains like oats, barley and brown rice have a lot more fiber and other nutrients than refined grains like all-purpose flour.

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Recipes for muffins, cookies and bars can be just as good when whole wheat flour is substituted for some of the white, all-purpose flour, and the result will be less risk of heart disease. Start by using a minimal substitution such as 1/4. For instance, if a recipe calls for 1 cup all-purpose flour, use 1/4 cup whole wheat flour and 3/4 cup white flour instead. If you like the result, use more whole wheat flour next time.

Another approach is to look for recipes that use whole grains to begin with like oatmeal cookies and muffins. Don’t stop with baked goods when adding whole grains to recipes. When cooking main meals and dishes, use brown rice in place of white rice and whole grain bread crumbs or oats in place of white bread crumbs.

5 best heart healthy recipe variations

2) Substitute vegetable oils for butter

Fat is an integral part of many recipes and too much fat is not part of a heart healthy diet plan. Some, like pie crusts and rich sauces, are difficult to create without butter or hydrogenated shortening. But many recipes and dishes aren’t choosy when it comes to what type of fat works. In general, if the flavor of butter isn’t important to the final dish, you can try substituting vegetable oil.

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What are the best heart healthy vegetable oils to use? Olive oil is a great substitute for butter when sautéing or lightly frying foods. Canola oil works well in baked goods like muffins and cookies. Why is vegetable oil a better heart healthy choice than butter? Vegetable oil doesn’t contain less fat than butter. It is, however, lower in unhealthy saturated fats than butter.

For comparison, one tablespoon of butter contains over 7 grams of saturated fat. The same amount of canola oil contains only 1 gram of saturated fat and olive oil comes in at just under 2 grams saturated fat. The difference is that vegetable oils contain more monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fat. These unsaturated fats are thought to be a better choice for maintaining heart health and this concept is one element of the Mediterranean Diet — recommended by many doctors.

guard your heart with these foods

3) Add more vegetables and less red meat

Vegetables have many benefits for the heart. They are nutrient dense, low in sodium and contain heart healthy fiber. Plus, eating lots of vegetables can help you maintain a healthy weight. One of the best things you can do to make your recipes heart healthy is to add  vegetables. Not sure how to do this? Get creative! From breakfast to dinner and all the snacks in between, there are lots of opportunities for getting more fruits and vegetables in your diet.

  • Eggs – Plain eggs are easily dressed up with fresh veggies for a delicious omelet or frittata. Try red and green bell peppers, mushrooms, spinach and fresh herbs.
  • Sandwiches – Add spinach or other dark leafy lettuces to your daily sandwich or use veggie spreads like hummus.
  • Quesadillas – A cheese quesadilla can be transformed into a heart healthy meal by replacing half of the cheese with black beans and adding tomatoes and green vegetables like spinach or broccoli.

heart healthy food substitutes

4) Baked goods integrate vegetables into your recipes

If you bake muffins, cookies and cakes, don’t forget about the wonderful properties that certain vegetables can bring to the snack plate. Carrots, sweet potatoes and even spinach can be baked into sweet baked goods and still be moist and delicious. Look for recipes that use these ingredients or simply start adding small amounts to your favorites.

how to guard my heart

5) Use nuts and beans in place of meat and cheese.

You don’t have to give up meat and cheese entirely for a heart healthy diet. But to keep fat and saturated fat in check, you need to eat these foods in moderation. One way to do that is to substitute other high-protein foods for meat and cheese. Nuts and beans are high in protein but they also contain many heart healthy nutrients that meat and cheese lack. Eat more nuts and beans and you’ll get fiber, important minerals, vitamins and other plant nutrients. To get more nuts and beans in your diet, try these substitutions:

  • Use roasted almonds, walnuts, hazelnuts or pecans instead of meat and cheese on salads.
  • Alternate meat sandwiches with sandwiches made with peanut butter, almond butter, or hummus spreads.
  • Use cubes of tofu in stews and soups instead of meat.

Well, there you have it! Just making some of these simple substitutions in some of your favorite recipes can have a major impact on not only heart health but a healthier lifestyle altogether.

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