Living a heart-healthy lifestyle doesn’t have to be a chore. You just have to find the right heart-healthy recipes. Once upon a time eating healthy meant giving up the foods you love and sacrificing taste. But oh how things have changed! Now you can have beef stroganoff and nachos and spinach artichoke dip and so much more. And they’re not only delicious. They’re also really good for you.
The Mayo Clinic says there are several things that you can do to prevent heart disease. You can control your portion sizes and eat more fruits and vegetables. You should also limit unhealthy fats and eat more fiber. It’s a good idea to choose lower-fat protein sources. And it is imperative to lower your sodium intake. With a little planning, it’s not that hard to eat a healthy balanced diet.
Heart-Healthy Cooking Tips
When you’re looking for your favorite heart-healthy recipes, you want to find dishes that are not only delicious but are also low in fat, sodium, and calories and high in fiber.
Limit saturated and trans fat
The Cleveland Clinic says that 25 to 30 percent of your caloric intake should come from fats. If you eat 2,000 calories per day, that means you can eat 44 to 77 grams of fat each day. One way that you can lower your fat intake is by selecting lean cuts of meat, especially cuts with “round” or “loin” in their name. For heart-healthy recipes, you should also replace high-fat cheeses with lower-fat options. And you should cut way back on fatty processed meats like hot dogs, salami, and bacon.
Reduce the sodium
Some sodium is essential for your health. But most Americans eat entirely too much of it. According to the American Heart Association, the average American eats around 3,400 mg of sodium every single day. But they recommend no more than 2,300 mg per day, with an ideal limit of fewer than 1,500 mg a day, especially for people who have high blood pressure. Preparing heart-healthy recipes at home will help you control the salt. The objective is to use as little of it as possible in cooking. And check the labels! Most canned and processed foods contain more sodium than you think.
Eat more fiber
Adding more fiber to your meals increases the quality of your diet and will decrease your risk of cardiovascular disease. Fiber also helps to decrease harmful cholesterol levels. According to the Institute of Medicine, women need to eat 25 grams of fiber every day. And men need to eat 38 grams per day. But the average American only consumes around 15 grams of fiber every day. The best way to increase your fiber intake is to look for heart-healthy recipes that use more plant-based ingredients like beans, fruits, vegetables, nuts, and whole grains.
6 Heart-Healthy Recipes
These are six of our favorite heart-healthy recipes from the Mayo Clinic and the American Heart Association.
1. Sweet Potato Nachos
This dish is one of our favorite heart-healthy recipes for a pre-game snack or a yummy appetizer. It is from the American Heart Association, and it is sure to be a hit. The recipe serves six.
- 3 medium sweet potatoes
- 1 tablespoon of olive oil
- 1 teaspoon of chili powder
- 1/3 cup of reduced-fat shredded cheddar cheese
- 1 teaspoon of garlic powder
- 1/3 cup of black beans, drained and rinsed
- 1/3 cup of plum tomatoes, chopped
- 1 1/2 teaspoons of paprika
- 1/3 cup of canned, no salt added, diced tomatoes, drained and rinsed
- 1/3 cup of avocado, chopped
First, preheat your oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit. Use tinfoil to line two baking pans and then coat them with nonstick cooking spray. Peel and thinly slice the sweet potatoes into quarter-inch rounds. And then add the pieces to a bowl with the olive oil, chili powder, garlic powder, and paprika and toss. Evenly spread them onto the pans. And then bake for 10 minutes. Use a spatula to flip the rounds and then cook for another five to ten minutes.
Once the sweet potato rounds are crisp, remove them from the oven and sprinkle them with the cheese and beans. Return them to the oven for another two minutes to melt the cheese. And then sprinkle them with the avocado and tomato and serve.
Each serving contains 209 calories and 5.5 grams of total fat, with 1.7 grams of that coming from saturated and trans fat. Each serving also contains 6 grams of protein, 194 milligrams of sodium, and 6 grams of fiber.
2. Roasted Butternut Squash Soup
This soup recipe is another one of our favorite heart-healthy recipes from the American Heart Association. It uses Greek yogurt and is perfect for a chilly night.
- 1 1/2 cups of fat-free plain Greek yogurt
- 1 butternut squash, around 2 1/2 pounds
- 2 cups of Vidalia onion, peeled and chopped
- 1 tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil
- 1 teaspoon of fresh thyme, chopped
- 2 cloves of garlic, chopped
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 quart of water
- 1/2 teaspoon of black pepper
- 1 pinch of nutmeg
- 1 1/4 teaspoon of Kosher salt
First, preheat your oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Then cut the squash in half lengthwise and use a spoon to remove the seeds. Next, season both halves of the squash with one teaspoon of extra virgin olive oil and 1/2 a teaspoon of salt. Wrap them in foil and then place them in a baking dish.
Roast the squash halves for one hour, or until they are soft when tested with a fork. Then take them out of the oven and let them cool enough to handle. Remove the skin of the squash. And then add the remaining two teaspoons of olive oil, onion, carrots, garlic, bay leaf, thyme, and one teaspoon of salt to a pot and cook on medium heat. Stir frequently and cook for about 10 minutes, until the carrots are tender and the onions are translucent. Then add one quart of vegetable stock and the roasted squash to the pot and simmer on low heat with the lid on for 30 minutes.
Remove the bay leaf. And then pour the soup mixture into the blender with the remaining one teaspoon of salt, nutmeg, black pepper, and 1/2 cup of the Greek yogurt. Blend for one minute on high until the mixture is smooth. Then pour into six bowls and add a dollop of the yogurt on top of each. Serve immediately.
Each bowl of soup contains 89 calories and 1.5 grams of total fat. And each serving contains 5 grams of protein and 4 grams of dietary fiber.
3. Artichoke, Spinach, and White Bean Dip
This dish is one of the heart-healthy recipes great for a football party or an everyday appetizer. And it comes from the Mayo Clinic. The recipe serves eight.
- 2 cups of artichoke hearts
- 1 tablespoon of black pepper
- 4 cups of chopped spinach
- 1 teaspoon of dried thyme, minced
- 2 cloves of garlic, minced
- 1 tablespoon of fresh parsley, minced
- 1 cup of cooked white beans
- 2 tablespoons of grated parmesan cheese
- 1/2 cup of reduced-fat sour cream
This dish is one of the easiest heart-healthy recipes to make. It’s very simple. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Then combine all of the ingredients in a bowl. Put the mixture into a ceramic or glass baking dish and bake for 30 minutes. You can serve this delicious dish with raw veggies or whole-grain crackers or pita chips. You can also puree the beans if you want the dip to have a smoother consistency.
Each half-cup serving of this dip has 123 calories and 3 grams of total fat. It also has 8 grams of protein, 7.5 grams of fiber, and 114 milligrams of sodium.
4. Beef Stroganoff
This dish is another one of our favorite heart-healthy recipes from the Mayo Clinic. You can make this dish even healthier by serving it over brown rice or vegetables instead of egg noodles. This recipe serves four.
- 1/2 cup of onion, chopped
- 1/2 pound boneless beef round steak, cut into 3/4-inch pieces, with all fat removed
- 4 cups of uncooked yolkless egg noodles
- 1/2 can of fat-free cream of mushroom soup, undiluted
- 1/2 cup of water
- 1 tablespoon of all-purpose flour
- 1/2 teaspoon of paprika
- 1/2 cup of fat-free sour cream
First, sauté the onions in a nonstick frying pan for about five minutes on medium heat until they are translucent. Then add the beef and continue cooking for another five minutes, until the meat is tender and browned. Remove from heat, drain well, and set aside. Next, bring a large pot of water to a boil and add the noodles. Cook them for 10 to 12 minutes, until they are tender, and then drain.
Whisk together the soup, water, and flour in a saucepan over medium heat and stir for about five minutes, until the sauce thickens. Then add the soup mixture and the paprika to the beef in the frying pan. Cook over medium heat until the mixture is warm. And then remove from the heat and stir in the sour cream. Serve immediately over the noodles.
The serving size for this dish is about 2 1/2 cups. Each serving has 273 calories and 20 grams of protein. And it contains 5 grams of total fat, 2 grams of fiber, and 193 milligrams of sodium.
5. Turkey Bacon and Spinach Quiche with Sweet Potato Crust
This quiche is another of the tasty heart-healthy recipes from the American Heart Association. The sweet potato crust on this quiche is so delicious that you’ll never miss the dough. This recipe makes five servings.
- 1 sweet potato, washed
- 6 pieces of thinly sliced turkey bacon
- 1 teaspoon of canola oil
- 3/4 teaspoon of dried dill
- 1 medium yellow onion, diced finely
- 1 10-ounce package of frozen chopped spinach, thawed
- 1/4 teaspoon of salt
- 1/4 teaspoon of ground black pepper
- 2 large eggs
- 4 large egg whites
- 1/4 cup of skim milk
- 1 1/2 tablespoon of fat-free feta cheese
First, preheat your oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Then use a box grater in a medium bowl and grate the sweet potato until you have two cups. Use cooking spray to coat a 9-inch pie pan. And then gently press the grated sweet potato into the bottom of the pan and up the sides. The sweet potatoes will be loose in the pan, but once you cook them, they will hold together. Bake the sweet potato crust for about 20 minutes. And then remove from the oven and lower the temperature to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
Next, in a medium pan on the stove, warm the oil over medium-high heat. Add the finely chopped onion to the pan and cook for six to eight minutes, until they are nearly translucent. Add the turkey bacon and cook for three to four minutes, until the bacon and onions begin to brown. Then stir in the spinach, dill, salt, and pepper and cook for another one to two minutes, until the water in the spinach is released. Remove from the heat and pour the mixture over the sweet potato crust.
In a separate bowl, whisk the eggs, egg whites, and milk to combine. Then pour it over the vegetable mixture in the pie pan. And sprinkle the feta cheese on top. Put the quiche into the oven and cook for 35 to 40 minutes, until the eggs are firm in the center. Remove from the oven and let it cool for a few minutes before you cut into it.
Each serving contains 136 calories and 5 grams of total fat. There are also 12 grams of protein, 3 grams of fiber, and 485 milligrams of sodium in each serving.
6. Bluey Smoothie
There are even yummy heart-healthy recipes for beverages. This smoothie by the American Heart Association is a great way to start your day. This recipe serves two.
- 1 cup of frozen blueberries
- 2 cups of frozen peaches
- 2 cups of packed fresh spinach
- 1 cup of fat-free milk
- 1 teaspoon of honey
This smoothie is delicious, and it’s one of the easiest heart-healthy recipes to make. You just dump all of the ingredients into a blender and mix for one to two minutes. Then pour into two glasses, serve, and enjoy!
Each serving has 179 calories and 6.7 grams of protein. There are also 1.8 grams of total fat, 6.8 grams of fiber, and 76.1 milligrams of sodium per serving.
Benefits of Using Heart-Healthy Recipes in Your Diet
There are many benefits to eating a heart-healthy diet. First of all, a balanced diet provides you with the nutrients that you need for growth and repair which helps you to stay active and healthy and avoid diet-related illnesses. Eating heart-healthy food will also give you more energy. And it will help you to maintain a healthy weight. A balanced diet that is low in fat, calories, and sodium and high in fiber is also excellent for the health of your heart. High cholesterol and blood pressure are an indication that you have too much sodium and saturated fat in your diet.
The best part about all of this is that you don’t have to sacrifice delicious food to eat healthily. The most important advice that I can give you is to read labels. With a little effort, it’s not hard to find healthy dishes that you love. Tell us in the comments about your favorite heart-healthy recipes.