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Tasty Heart-Healthy Food Substitutes

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Eating heart-smart food is the first line of defense against reducing your risk for heart disease.

Foods that are high in saturated fat play a major role in the build-up of fat (plaque) in your arteries. This narrows the walls of the arteries and can increase your risk of heart attack.

Another important step in eating heart-smart foods is choosing fiber rich foods. While you may be tempted to opt for the enriched or “white” versions of breads, pastas, rice, etc. due to not saving any calories or carbs, these foods are missing the fiber content with not only helps to keep you fuller longer, but also helps keep blood sugars more stable, and helps rid the body of the cholesterol or plaque build-up in your arteries.

You might be skeptical at first, but try these heart smart swaps to help your risk of heart disease without sacrificing flavor.

Sour Cream

Swap with Greek yogurt cup for cup whether topping your baked potato, making a homemade dip or dressing or even baking cheesecake!

Whole milk

In most recipes, low-fat milk can be swapped equally for whole milk. Ultra-filtered milk (like that produced by Fairlife) is even more rich in protein and contains half the sugar and carb content as traditional milk.


Opt for 2% cheese varieties when available to trim saturated fat. Alternatively, you can simply use less of the real thing. Opt for thin-sliced versions or use just a tablespoon of crumbled or grated cheese.

Half and half

A splash or two in your coffee is not something to worry about, but recipes calling for half and half can often be swapped with unsweetened, plant-based varieties like those by Ripple and Nut Pods.


Often recommend to avoid for those with heart disease, but leanest options can still be enjoyed occasionally especially when balancing with skinless poultry, fish, seafood throughout the week’s menu.

Filets, sirloins, tenderloins make great options when desiring a steak, and flank steak is a great lean option for fajitas or stir fry Extra lean 93% should be your cut of choice for everything for burgers, meat sauce, meatloaf, shepard’s pie, lasagna, tacos, etc. Pork tenderloins and center cut pork chops are nice options as well, and can make really easy and versatile dinners.


Herbs and spices often go underestimated but it does take some time to allow your taste buds to adjust to using less salt. Really bump up the flavor with black pepper, red pepper flakes, fresh garlic & onion, etc.

If you’re in the need for a quick option for meats & veggies, try Paul Prudhommes no sugar-no salt seasoning blends; and Tabasco is the lowest sodium hot sauce available, so it can still be used to flavor some of your favorite foods.


A teaspoon of regular sugar (5 grams) once or twice a day, whether to sweeten your tea or oatmeal, isn't so much a big deal, but aim to keep added sugars to a minimum. For no-calorie versions, or for sugar alternatives to limit sugar effects on your blood, we recommend plant-based sweeteners like Truvia, Stevia and Swerve.


Brown rice is a better option to get those grain and fiber benefit, but even grated cauliflower tops that with its lower calorie and vitamin/mineral content. Try it with stir fry or even in your jambalaya.


Stone ground grits is the whole-grain version of grits which go well with shrimp and grits or even as a bed to your pot roast. Cauliflower grits is another great alternative. 

Editor's note: This article was originally published on August 7, 2017.

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