Heart Healthy Ingredient Substitutions

You may never look at recipes the same. It may actually become like a game to try and figure out how many substitutions you can find with new recipes. You will not only be cooking healthier foods, but you may also reduce the total fat and saturated fat in your favorite recipes. So the next time you want to try a new recipe, or an old favorite, try using these heart healthy substitutions to remove the bad stuff without sacrificing taste.

Why Substitute?

It’s a good idea to start substituting high-calorie, high-fat foods as soon as you can. It’s never too early to start eating healthier and taking care of your heart, especially if heart disease runs in your family. By substituting healthier foods, you can still keep the flavor while losing some or all of the fat.


If a recipe calls for butter, try using soft or non-hydrogenated margarine instead. For butter, margarine or oil, use finely chopped baby prunes. This works better in darker foods like brownies. This also cuts more than half the fat and calories. You can also use 1/2 applesauce and 1/2 buttermilk. When baking yeast breads or pie crusts, it might be a good idea to use the correct amount of oil for these recipes. If you take all of the oil out completely, it might end in a sticky bread or crust.

Skim milk or 1% milk is a great substitution for whole milk and has a lot less fat. You can also use evaporated skim milk in place of evaporated whole milk in the same way. Heavy cream can be substituted with evaporated skim milk.

You don’t need to give up eggs entirely. If a recipe calls for eggs, you can use 2 egg whites for every whole egg. For example, if you need two whole eggs, use one egg and two egg whites instead. If you only use egg whites, certain desserts or breads may be a little tough. You can also use egg substitutes. Usually 1/4 cup of egg substitute is equal to 1 whole egg. If your recipe needs 2 or more eggs, use 1 whole egg and egg substitute for the rest.

Some people use oil for sautéing, but there is a healthier way. Use water, broth or tomato juice in its place.

If your recipe calls for 1 pound of ground beef, you have several options. You can use 1/2 pound of extra lean ground beef and a 14 oz. can of cooked beans. Ground turkey can be substituted for ground beef in a number of recipes. It will drastically cut the fat, and you won’t notice a difference in flavor.

Instead of using chocolate chips or nuts, try using raisins or dried fruit for half or all of the chocolate chips and nuts. Another alternative for milk chocolate chunks is to use half the amount of mini chocolate chips. You still get the chocolaty taste, with half the fat and calories.

If you need sour cream, use 1% or fat-free sour cream instead. You can also use low fat yogurt and cottage cheese. It will be lower in fat, but keep the same consistency. If you are baking something sweet, replace regular sour cream with nonfat sour cream. If you are baking a cheesy casserole, you might want to use the real thing, because nonfat sour cream turns sweet when heated.

It’s a good idea to substitute real cheese with low-fat or fat-free cheese. Fat-free cheese does not melt very well, so if you are heating it for your recipe, it might be better to substitute use less cheese. You can use less but still have a lot of flavor. In the same way, 3/4 cup of freshly shredded parmesan cheese will be just as cheesy as 1 cup of grated parmesan.

Instead of cream cheese, you have several options. Try using low-fat or fat-free cream cheese. Another alternative is to use fat-free ricotta cheese instead.

Instead of salt or seasoning salt, try using fresh herbs and spices. Also, remember to taste your food before automatically adding salt to it. Sometimes it already has enough flavors and adding extra isn’t necessary.

If your recipe calls for flour, try using half all-purpose flour plus half whole-wheat flour instead. This adds an excellent source of fiber without taking away from the taste.


In general, it is a good idea to switch to healthier fats. You want to cut out all the lard, butter, palm oil, coconut oil and shortenings made from these types of oils. Try using healthier oils instead like olive, canola, soybean, sunflower, sesame, peanut and cottonseed.

If you are going to add nuts to your recipe, try toasting them first. This will help enhance the flavor so you can use less nuts, therefore cutting calories.

You will soon find yourself trying to find more substitutions with each recipe. Start to make new recipe cards for your recipe box with the substitutions in place. Pretty soon, you won’t remember how the original recipe tasted, and you will be eating more low-fat, healthier meals.

You may never look at recipes the same. It may actually become like a game to try and figure out how many substitutions you can find with new recipes. You will not only be cooking healthier foods