Heart-Healthy Food Swaps

Grilled chicken on a cutting board with thyme and green beans; blog: heart healthy food swaps

Eating healthy does not mean you have to eat kale salads for the rest of your life. These simple and tasty heart-healthy food swaps can help you cut down on sugar, sodium, fat, and cholesterol so you can keep your heart in tip-top shape.


Do you have a tasty recipe but don’t know how to swap out the unhealthy ingredients for healthy ones? No problem! Follow these simple swaps for some of the most common ingredients

  • One Cup of Whole Milk: Swap with one cup of low-fat milk (or skim milk) and a tablespoon of vegetable oil.
  • Cream Cheese: Swap with a mixture of one part soft low-fat margarine and four parts dry, unsalted, low-fat cottage cheese. You can also add low-fat milk if needed.
  • Butter: Substitute with low-fat margarine.
  • Unsweetened Baking Chocolate: Swap one ounce of baking chocolate with three tablespoons of unsweetened cocoa powder and one tablespoon of vegetable oil or low-fat margarine.

Snacks and Desserts

Snacks and desserts are often some of our guilty pleasures… but they don’t have to be! Make these substitutions to not only satisfy your cravings and sweet tooth but keep your heart happy.

  • Potato Chips: Swap out traditional potato chips with pretzels or low fat and low sodium potato chips.
  • Cookies: Substitute traditional cookies with zero-added sugar, low fat, or fat-free cookies.
  • Ice Cream: Healthy alternatives to ice cream include yogurt, ice milk, and sherbet.
  • Tortilla Chips: Instead of fried tortilla chips, try out reduced sodium, baked tortilla chips.

Fast Food and Restaurant Swaps

Believe it or not, there are some healthy options at your typical fast-food restaurants. If you’re not sure, most chain fast-food restaurants post their nutritional facts online. Otherwise, consider these heart-healthy fast food and other restaurant swaps.

  • Hamburgers and Cheeseburgers: Swap these out with a grilled chicken sandwich.
  • French Fries: Substitute this greasy side with a baked potato with low-fat sour cream for a healthy alternative.
  • Soups: Instead of cream-based soup, opt for broth-based and vegetable soups.
  • Bread and Muffins: Swap out these carb-heavy foods with pita bread, or melba toast.
  • Fried Chicken: Substitute fried foods like chicken with grilled alternatives. Grilled chicken salads, chili, or bagels are also healthy alternatives to other typical fast food options.

Contact PULSE: The Heart, Valve, and Vascular Institute

Diet plays a major role in heart health when it comes to both the prevention and treatment of heart-related conditions. Eating certain foods can either increase or help lower your risk of heart disease and other conditions. If you have any questions or concerns about your heart health, reach out to PULSE: The Heart, Valve, and Vascular Institute today. 

Dr. Farhan Majeed provides comprehensive and state-of-the-art care in the areas of cardiac, vascular, and structural heart disease to patients in Port Charlotte, Florida and the greater Charlotte county area. Call (941) 629-2111 to schedule an appointment.

conveniently located

please click the PULSE logo for directions