10 heart-healthy ingredient substitutions

Living healthy takes work. Going to the gym, exercising and maintaining a healthy weight – all of these require discipline and a desire to remain healthy.
After all the working out, what do you put into your body? Eating right is just as important as getting enough exercise. Would you be willing to alter your diet if you had some easy substitutes? Here are 10 heart-healthy ingredients you can substitute for unhealthy ones while you cook or bake.
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1. Yogurt
For recipes that call for sour cream, Health Day recommends using yogurt instead. It has fewer calories and less saturated fat. If your recipe calls for 1 cup of sour cream, use 1 cup of plain yogurt instead.
2. Margarine
Butter may taste really good, but it has negative health benefits because of its high amounts of fat. The American Heart Association urges replacing butter in baking with margarine. Make it an equal swap; no complicated math is necessary.
3. Hummus
Mayonnaise is the glue that holds many salads and sandwiches together. It's also high in omega-6 fatty acids, which can contribute to arthritic pain and heart disease. When making a green salad, tuna salad or even egg salad, Healthline recommends swapping out the mayonnaise for hummus. You get the high protein from the hummus along with the added flavor.
4. Neufchâtel cheese
Cream cheese has 33 percent milk fat and Neufchâtel only 23 percent. Because the two taste almost identical, Allina Health says swap cream cheese for Neufchâtel cheese in your recipe, cutting down the amount of fat with which you cook.
5. Skim milk
Another simple way to reduce the amount of fat you cook with is using skim milk. According to the American Heart Association, skim milk can replace whole milk or heavy whipping cream. For 1 cup whole milk, use 1 cup skim milk plus 1 tablespoon vegetable oil. For 1 cup heavy whipping cream, use 1 cup evaporated skim milk.
6. Applesauce
To reduce the amount of oil and one source of fat in baked goods, Allina Health suggests swapping the oil for an equal amount of fruit puree or applesauce. Consider the flavor of the fruit when doing the swap. You don't want conflicting flavors in baked goods. Use unsweetened versions if the dish is savory.
7. Unsweetened cocoa powder
Sweeten up baking with chocolate by making it even healthier. The American Heart Association recommends replacing unsweetened baker's chocolate with unsweetened cocoa powder. Use 3 tablespoons cocoa powder plus 1 tablespoon vegetable oil to make 1 square of baker's chocolate.
8. Egg Substitute
Eggs are an excellent source of protein, but too much of anything can be a problem. When baking, try replacing eggs with egg substitutes. Health Day says to use 1/4 cup egg substitute to equal one egg.
9. Ground turkey
Ground beef and ground turkey do not taste the same, but when you are trying to eliminate extra fat in the diet and keep your heart healthy, substituting the leaner ground turkey should be at the top of your list. Healthline suggests using the turkey in dishes where you won't notice the switch: chili, tacos, meatloaf, marinara sauce or casseroles.
10. Vinegar
If you suffer from hypertension already, adding more salt to your diet is like adding gasoline to a fire. Instead, Healthline says to use vinegar instead of salt or maybe a squirt of lemon. Consider a bit of lemon pepper or some other spice.
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Cooking in a healthy manner doesn't mean your food has to taste bad. You just have to know what to substitute. You can have your cake and eat it too if you do it right.

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