Heart Healthy Food Swaps

When it comes to heart health, we know that a diet including plenty of plant-based proteins may help prevent heart disease. Plant-based protein sources like lentils, beans, quinoa, soy, seeds and nuts are also nutritional powerhouses, packed with vitamins, minerals and fiber.

Integrate heart healthy foods with some simple swaps that are just as delicious! Our on-staff dietitian, Allison Kuhn (MS, RDN, LD) helped us identify some swaps and ways to use them.

Ground Meat - Mushrooms

Swapping about half of the ground meat in a recipe for chopped, sautéed mushrooms not only reduces saturated fat and overall calories, it boosts B vitamin and fiber content. Another bonus: mushrooms are packed with deep, savory flavors that actually enhance the dish.

Tip: Try this with swap with meatballs, and finely chop the mushrooms with a food processor for best results!

Full-Fat Sour Cream - Nonfat Greek Yogurt

Switching from full-fat sour cream to a plain Greek yogurt means more protein, more calcium, and live and active cultures that support your gut health. And depending on which type you select, you’ll consume less saturated fat than you would from sour cream.

Regular Mayonnaise - Mayonnaise Made with Olive Oil

Mayo is often thought of negatively given its relatively high calorie and fat content, but innovative products that leverage heart-healthy oils actually turn this condiment into an opportunity to work in healthy fats. In a standard olive oil mayo, there are 5 times more poly and monounsaturated fats than saturated fats.

Tip: Combine olive oil mayonnaise with olive oil, apple cider vinegar, lemon and salt and pepper. Toss with cabbage, shredded carrots and a chopped granny smith apple for a delicious green apple coleslaw!

Cream Cheese - Neufchatel Cheese

This swap is so simple! Using Neufchatel Cheese in place of cream cheese reduces the fat by about 30%, and is not noticeable in most recipes, especially items like dips and spreads.

Tip: Blend Neufchatel cream cheese with Greek yogurt, maple syrup and cinnamon. Top with chopped nuts and serve with apple slices.

White Rice - Quinoa

Rice is one of the most versatile options around. Making a simple swap from white rice to either brown rice or quinoa provides more fiber, more protein, and all the extra vitamins and minerals present in whole grains.

Cheese - Avocado Slices

Cheese makes a rich, creamy addition to so many foods, especially items like salads and sandwiches. Consider using mashed, sliced or cubed avocado in place of cheese to reduce saturated fat and boost your intake of heart healthy fats (as well as a whole host of other nutrients!).

Tip: Try it on your next breakfast sandwich…pile a bagel high with scrambled eggs, turkey bacon, spinach leaves and avocado slices!

Salt - Own Spice Blend

No one likes to eat bland foods, and there’s no reason to! Embrace heavier use of herbs and spices in cooking to ensure your food is still flavorful without the need for copious amounts of salt, since some people see increased blood pressures with heavy sodium intake over time. Herbs and spices themselves contain little to no sodium, and several salt-free blends are available to make it even easier.

Croutons - Walnuts

When it comes to croutons and breading, it’s all about the exciting textures like crispness and crunch that make these foods so appealing. Swap the typical crouton topping or bread-based coating for walnuts to significantly change the nutrition profile. You’ll be gaining healthy fats, fiber, protein, vitamins and minerals, all of which support a healthy heart.

Chips - Popcorn

Craving a crunchy snack? Potato chips can quickly add up in terms of calories and sodium, so consider popcorn as a better-for-you alternative. Popcorn is a whole grain, so it’s a higher fiber alternative that also only has about 90 calories per 3 cups.

Tip: Consider preparing it yourself with heart-healthy oils or an air-popper, and use light salt alongside dried herbs and spices such as rosemary or cracked pepper.

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