Healthy Living Heart-Healthy

Delicious food swaps: Easy ways to make your favorite foods heart-healthy

Heart-healthy alternatives in recipes

Planning a steaming bowl of pasta Alfredo for dinner, followed by your mom’s famous gooey chocolate chip cookies for dessert? But wait.

“In the right portions, you can actually enjoy your favorite guilty-pleasure meals without the guilt, thanks to some easy heart-healthy swaps,” said Sarah Schmidt, a registered dietitian with Augusta University Family Medicine.

Follow Schmidt’s simple suggestions to turn your favorite high-calorie recipes into healthy meals you can make every week, without sacrificing taste.

1. Lower the sugar.

You can usually reduce sugar by one-third without making a noticeable difference to the original recipe. So if a recipe says 1 cup of sugar, use ⅔cup. To enhance the flavor, spice things up with vanilla, cinnamon or nutmeg.

2. Reduce the fat.

For baking, use half the butter/oil in a recipe and replace the other half with unsweetened applesauce or mashed bananas. Skim milk works in most recipes that call for whole milk. Also, choose heart-healthy fats when you can, like olive oil instead of butter. Be sure to still watch your portions!

3. Cut the salt.

Salt is crucial to baking, so don’t cut it out there, but other recipes can do with much less salt. Aim to reduce your salt intake by half, and replace it with your favorite herbs and spices.

4. Make substitutions.

Replace up to half of the flour in a recipe with whole-wheat flour. Use nonfat or low-fat yogurt instead of sour cream or mayonnaise. Instead of two whole eggs, use one whole egg and two egg whites or swap it out with ¼ cup commercial egg substitute. Finally, bulk up pasta dishes with more vegetables. A good goal is to make half your plate fruits and vegetables!

Concerned about the toll your diet has taken on your heart health?

Take our Healthy Heart Quiz and find out your risk of cardiovascular disease.

To find out what makes Augusta University Cardiovascular Center for Heart Care the premier heart and vascular center in the area, call us at 706-664-0584 to request a same-day appointment. Or, visit to learn about our locations and providers.

About the author

Augusta University Health

Based in Augusta, Georgia, Augusta University Health is a world-class health care network, offering the most comprehensive primary, specialty and subspecialty care in the region. Augusta University Health provides skilled, compassionate care to its patients, conducts leading-edge clinical research and fosters the medical education and training of tomorrow’s health care practitioners. Augusta University Health is a not-for-profit corporation that manages the clinical operations associated with Augusta University.