Modify Recipes for a Heart-Healthy Diet

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Modify Recipes for a Heart-Healthy Diet

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You don't have to abandon all your favourite recipes to eat healthier. Several small modifications in your current recipes can often greatly lower the fat, saturated fat, cholesterol, and/or calories in your diet for a heart-healthy make-over.

These small changes in your current recipes can make a big difference in your intake of fat and calories without significantly affecting the taste or enjoyment of your favourite meals. Some suggestions for making heart-healthy substitutions in your recipes are given below.

Recipe modifications

Instead of:


1 cup shortening or lard ¾ cup canola or olive oil
1 cup oil (baking) ¼ cup oil and ½ cup applesauce
1 cup whole milk 1 cup non-fat milk
1 cup heavy cream 1 cup evaporated skim milk
1 cup sour cream 1 cup low-fat or non-fat yogourt or sour cream
1 cup cheddar cheese 1 cup low-fat cheddar cheese
½ cup cream cheese ½ cup light cream cheese
¼ cup skim ricotta and ¼ cup tofu blended
1 can cream of chicken soup 1 can low-fat cream soup
1 lb (454 g) ground beef 1 lb ground turkey or 1 lb diet lean ground beef (93% fat-free)
1 can tuna in oil 1 can tuna in water
2 eggs 4 egg whites or an equal amount of egg substitute
1 cup chocolate chips ½ cup chocolate chips

To eat less fat, salt, and cholesterol, use the following tips while you cook.

Heart-healthy cooking tips

Instead of:


Frying your food Baking, broiling, steaming, poaching, or grilling your food
Eating convenience foods (canned soups, TV dinners, frozen pizza) Eating fresh fish, meats, fruits, and vegetables. Or look for low-salt convenience foods and make a balanced meal by adding a fruit, a vegetable, and low-fat or non-fat milk.
Using butter or other fats high in saturated fat Using products low in saturated fat, such as olive oil, vegetable oil, canola oil, or chicken broth
Using salt, soy sauce, or barbecue sauce Using herbs, spices, or lemon
Eating all of the meat product Eating a 2 to 3 oz serving of meat (which is about the size of a deck of cards). Trim fat from meat, and remove skin from chicken.
Eating egg yolks Eating egg whites or egg substitutes

Additional tips for reducing fat in recipes

  • Reduce the amount of fat in the recipe by half (this can often be done without having a major effect on the final product).
  • Use nonstick pans and nonstick cooking sprays to cut down on the amount of fat used in cooking.
  • When stir-frying, use a small amount of oil. If foods begin to stick, use water, wine, broth, or tomato juice to add moisture rather than adding more oil or other fat.
  • When making pies, omit the high-fat pastry crusts or choose a reduced-fat version, such as a graham cracker crust.
  • Experiment with herbs, spices, or even lemon to add flavour to low-fat foods.

Other Places To Get Help


Canada's Food Guide
Health Canada, Health Products and Food Branch, Office of Nutrition Policy and Promotion
Web Address:

Canada's Food Guide provides resources to help guide food selection and promote the nutritional health of Canadians. Resources include outlines of the food groups, the recommended range of daily servings, background information about the food guide, and other information about healthy eating.

Dietitians of Canada
480 University Avenue
Suite 604
Toronto, ON  M5G 1V2
Phone: (416) 596-0857
Fax: (416) 596-0603
Web Address:

The Dietitians of Canada website provides a wide range of food and nutrition information, including fact sheets on frequently asked food and diet questions, quizzes and other tools to assess your diet habits, and meal planning guides.

Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada
222 Queen Street
Suite 1402
Ottawa, ON  K1P 5V9
Phone: (613) 569-4361
Fax: (613) 569-3278
Web Address:

The Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada works to improve the health of Canadians by preventing and reducing disability and death from heart disease and stroke through research, health promotion, and advocacy.


By Healthwise Staff
Primary Medical Reviewer E. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine
Primary Medical Reviewer Brian D. O'Brien, MD - Internal Medicine
Specialist Medical Reviewer Rhonda O'Brien, MS, RD, CDE - Certified Diabetes Educator
Last Revised August 23, 2010

This information does not replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise, Incorporated disclaims any warranty or liability for your use of this information.