Eating heart-smart food is the first line of defense against reducing your risk for heart disease. Foods that are high in fat play a major role in the build-up of fat in your arteries. This blocks the arteries and leads to an increased risk of heart attack.
Another important step in eating heart-smart foods is lowering your cholesterol. The body needs some “good” cholesterol, or unsaturated fats, to build and create certain hormones. However, “bad” cholesterol, or unsaturated fat, stays in the body and sticks to artery walls and can block blood flow to the heart and brain, causing heart attack or stroke.
Many people might be surprised to learn that Heart-Smart food substitutes allow you to cut fat without sacrificing the taste. It’s easy to make many of your favorite recipes healthier by switching to lower- or no-fat ingredients. These healthier food alternatives usually go unnoticed in your favorite meals.
The American Heart Association recommends these smart substitutions to cut down on saturated fats, trans fats and cholesterol, without sacrificing flavor.
- Whole milk (1 cup): 1 cup fat-free or low-fat milk, plus one tablespoon of vegetable oil
- Heavy cream (1 cup): 1 cup evaporated skim milk; or 1⁄2 cup low-fat yogurt combined with 1⁄2 cup plain low-fat unsalted cottage cheese
- Sour cream: Nonfat sour cream; or non- or low-fat unsalted cottage cheese (whip cottage cheese in a blender to smooth consistency and add 1 teaspoon lemon juice)
- Cream cheese: 4 tablespoons soft margarine, blended with 1 cup dry, unsalted low-fat cottage cheese (add a small amount of fat-free milk if needed)
- Egg (1): 2 egg whites
- Unsweetened baking chocolate (1 ounce): 3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
- Salt: Season food with a splash of vinegar or squeeze of lemon
- Sugar: Substitute artificial sweeteners for up to half of the sugar in most recipes, without altering flavor or texture