Nutrition Articles

15 Heart-Healthy Versions of Your Favorite Foods

Smart Swaps for Your Unhealthy Favorites

Whether you've been told you need to lower your blood pressure, improve your cholesterol levels, or just want to take preventative measures to protect your ticker, one of the first things you'll likely change is your diet. Heart-healthy diets are beneficial for weight loss and those who want to maintain good health, in addition to those who want to improve cardiovascular health. Lower in saturated fat, sodium and calories, with an emphasis on lean protein, whole grains and plenty of fruits and vegetables, a heart-healthy diet can even have room for all those favorite foods you thought you had to give up forever. By cooking comfort foods like hot wings, macaroni and cheese and Philly cheesesteak at home, you'll slash sodium and artery-clogging saturated fat while still indulging. Here are 15 of our favorite smart swaps (scroll below the infographic to get the recipes).

Want to see exactly how these recipes stack up against the unhealthy ones? Get the recipes--and the scoop on what you're really eating when you chow down on those unhealthy faves.
1 burger (patty only)
512 calories
22 g fat
1,914 mg sodium
Better Burgers
161 calories
1.5 g fat
276 mg sodium
1 calzone
1,020 calories
54 g fat
1,760 mg sodium
No-Guilt Grilled Veggie Calzones
240 calories
3 g fat
387 mg sodium
Cashew Chicken
1 standard takeout serving
654 calories
57 g fat
1,130 mg sodium
Slimmer Cashew Chicken
277 calories
7 g fat
486 mg sodium
Chili Fries
1 serving
300 calories
18 g fat
530 mg sodium
Cleaner Chili Cheese Fries
342 calories
12 g fat
436 mg sodium
Fettuccine Alfredo
1 "lunch" serving
800 calories
48 g fat
810 mg sodium
Guiltless Alfredo Pasta
344 calories
10 g fat
146 mg sodium
French Fries
1 small
230 calories
11 g fat
270 mg sodium
Skinny Spiced Sweet Potato Fries
117 calories
5 g fat
158 mg sodium
Hot Wings
6 wings
300 calories
20 g fat
432 mg sodium
Better Buffalo Chicken Bites
223 calories
4 g fat
282 mg sodium
1 serving
450 calories
17 g fat
1,200 mg sodium
Leaner Lasagna
271 calories
10 g fat
284 mg sodium
Loaded Potato Skins
3 skins
304 calories
19 g fat
677 mg sodium
Lean Potato Skins
128 calories
2 g fat
128 mg sodium
Macaroni and Cheese
1 serving, made according to box directions
400 calories
3.5 g fat
580 mg sodium
Skinny Mac and Cheese
230 calories
4 g fat
306 mg sodium
1 slice
350 calories
19 g fat
1,020 mg sodium
Better than Mom's Meatloaf
234 calories
6 g fat
189 mg sodium
Philly Cheesesteak
1 sandwich
393 calories
14 g fat
1,950 mg sodium
Lean Philly Cheesesteak
341 calories
12 g fat
254 mg sodium
1 serving frozen extra cheese pizza
350 calories
15 g fat
660 mg sodium
Slimmer Pesto Pizza
220 calories
10 g fat
182 mg sodium
Potato Chips
1 ounce regular chips
160 calories
10 g fat
170 mg sodium
Microwave Herb Potato Chips
64 calories
0 g fat
90 mg sodium
Stuffed Baked Potato
1 potato
569 calories
24 g fat
793 mg sodium
Sinless Stuffed Sweet Potato
312 calories
2 g fat
231 mg sodium

Regardless of your reason to choose heart-healthier recipes and meals, these comfort food makeovers are sure to please. Only you will know that these dishes are easier on the arteries and the waistline--your taste buds will be none the wiser!

Note: Because the majority of our members are trying to lose weight, our heart-health guidelines are based on the same calorie guidelines we offer for weight loss. Entrees are under 350 calories, 3 grams saturated fat and 480 milligrams sodium. Combo meals, such as protein and starch or protein, starch and a vegetable, have slightly higher limits of up to 500 calories, 7 grams saturated fat and 600 milligrams of sodium. Sides clock in below 250 calories, 2 grams saturated fat, and 360 milligrams sodium.  

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Member Comments

  • These look like great swaps!
  • Carbs and sodium out the roof!
  • After looking at the first one, I have to question all of them. I just tracked my burger and it was nowhere NEAR 512 calories! 4 oz of 93% lean ground beef is 180 calories according to the SP database. A burger doesn't have crumbs or salsa in it - that's meatloaf! I don't want to waste time digging through the others, it sounds like I already have better choices in my plans!
  • Recipes were easy to find but the previous comments are dated so the problem has likely been fixed before I got here. For my money these are why bother recipes. If it doesn't have "XXX" then it just aint "YYY" no matter what you decide to call it. Eat less of what you really like -1/3-1/2 portion and more greens (almost no calories).
  • help is a crussiot fatting
    Quit naming recipes "Skinny" this or "Skinny" that, reminds me of trying to force the "concentration camp" look upon us all, that is not smart....
  • I would like to see where they got the burger that was so high in calories and what all was on it if the bun wasn't included. A 3 oz 93% lean patty is less than 200 calories. Lean beef is a great protein option!
  • BARB3243
    On your recipe Sweet and Sour Chicken it sounds really great! until I come to the sodium
    in it YIKES!!!!!! doesn't sound to healthy to me
    Why make it so difficult to get the recipe? Your site is always like this.
    Hasn't anyone at SparkPeople heard of seafood?
    I just joined, so bear with me. I entered my beginning weight on 2/2 and lost 12 lbs the first week (yeah me) and 1.6 pounds this week. I entered my weight and I see the results on the graph. Is there somewhere that I can check the pounds lost (per week and altogether?) Thanks so much for your help.

  • CSPENCER1104
    My apologies Malkah.
  • CSPENCER1104
    Problem solved,

    Under all of the of the photos you'll see a paragraph that reads " Want to see exactly how these recipes stack up against the unhealthy ones? Get the recipes--and the scoop on what you're really eating when you chow down on those unhealthy faves.

    The First one is "Burgers" on the left. "Better Burgers" on the right is cliackable. The clickable links open the recipes. There are two pages of them. So look on both pages and click the recipe title(s) on the right side.

    Click on ......
    Better Burgers
    161 calories
    1.5 g fat
  • CSPENCER1104
    If "View the Article" were clickable, that would solve the problem. I think Malkah is dreamiung.

About The Author

Stepfanie Romine Stepfanie Romine
A former newspaper reporter, Stepfanie now writes about nutrition, health, fitness and cooking. She is a certified Ashtanga yoga teacher who enjoys running, international travel and all kinds of vegetables. See all of Stepfanie's articles.

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