Try these heart healthy recipes

Are you looking for healthy recipes to add to your weekly meal plan?

These heart-healthy recipes focus on reducing your overall fat and sodium intake, which can  help reduce your risk for heart disease. Use these three recipes to kick-start your new diet.

For more information on improving your heart health, talk to a doctor at the UPMC Heart and Vascular Institute.

    Heart-Healthy Chili

One of the best ways to reduce the amount of fat you eat is by switching up your meat choices. That’s why this heart-healthy take on classic chili uses ground turkey instead of beef and loads up on other delicious spices instead of defaulting to sodium-packed canned veggies for flavor.


  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 2 large garlic cloves
  • 1 pound ground turkey
  • 2 15-ounce cans (no added salt) kidney beans, rinsed
  • 14.5 ounces (no added salt) tomatoes, diced
  • 6 ounces canned (no added salt) tomato paste
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 tablespoon smoked paprika
  • ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • Diced green onions (for garnish)

Cooking instructions:

Coat your pan with cooking spray and heat to medium high. Cook the diced onion and garlic for several minutes. Reduce heat to medium, add turkey, and cook until browned, stirring frequently.

Then stir in beans, tomatoes, tomato paste, and spices. Simmer on low for 10 minutes. Garnish with green onion.

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    Chicken Basil Spaghetti Squash

Like turkey, chicken is better for your heart than red meats like beef or steak. The spaghetti squash in this dish also serves to lower the carbohydrate content. Enjoy the hearty Italian flavor of this meal without any guilt!


  • 2 boneless skinless chicken breasts
  • ½ teaspoon pepper
  • ½ teaspoon oregano
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder (divided into ¼ teaspoons)
  • 1 spaghetti squash, halved and seeded
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil (divided into teaspoons)
  • ½ cup baby spinach
  • ¼ cup grape tomatoes, halved
  • 2 tablespoons chopped onion
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
  • 2 ounces goat cheese

Cooking instructions:

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Season the chicken breasts with pepper, oregano, and half of the garlic powder. Then place the spaghetti squash halves cut side up on a baking sheet. Drizzle with one teaspoon olive oil and remaining garlic powder. Bake the chicken and squash for 30 to 45 minutes, turning the chicken halfway through.

During the last 10 minutes, add the spinach, tomatoes, onion, basil, goat cheese, and the remaining olive oil. Using a fork, scrape the insides of the spaghetti squash, creating stringy “noodles.”

Dice the chicken into small pieces. Mix the spaghetti squash and chicken. Finally, you’re ready to serve.

Asian Lettuce Cups

These tasty lettuce cups are another great way to cut unnecessary carbs and calories while packing in more healthful vegetables. The avocado and sesame oil provide some healthy fats that will help keep your heart happy.


  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil
  • 2 chopped garlic cloves
  • ¼ cup chopped shallots
  • 2 teaspoons ginger, minced
  • ¼ teaspoon dried chili flakes
  • ½ cup water chestnuts, finely chopped
  • 1 cup carrots, thinly sliced
  • 1 pound ground turkey
  • Black pepper to taste
  • 1 teaspoon reduced-sodium soy sauce
  • ¼ cup peanuts or cashews, chopped (optional)
  • 1 head Bibb lettuce, washed and dried
  • 1 small avocado, diced

For sauce:

  • ¼ cup lime juice
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • 1 teaspoon water
  • 2 teaspoons reduced-sodium soy sauce
  • 2 teaspoons fish sauce

Cooking instructions:

Heat a frying pan sprayed with cooking spray over high heat, and add 1 teaspoon of the sesame oil. Add garlic, shallots, ginger, and chili flakes and sauté for two minutes. Add the water chestnuts and carrots, and stir-fry for two to three minutes.

Remove the vegetables. Reduce heat to medium. Spray your pan with cooking spray, add the ground turkey, and season with pepper. Cook over medium heat until browned. Add soy sauce and nuts (if using), and stir-fry for one to two more minutes. Return vegetables to the pan and mix well.

Combine sauce ingredients in a small bowl. Fill lettuce cups with the meat/vegetable mixture, and top with avocado and sauce.

You can make many favorite recipes heart-healthy by choosing turkey, chicken, or fish instead of red meat. And use herbs and spices instead of salt to flavor your food.

For more information on improving your heart health, talk to your doctor or call the UPMC Heart and Vascular Institute.

About Heart and Vascular Institute

The UPMC Heart and Vascular Institute has long been a leader in cardiovascular care, with a rich history in clinical research and innovation. As one of the first heart transplant centers in the country and as the developer of one of the first heart-assist devices, UPMC has contributed to advancing the field of cardiovascular medicine. We strive to provide the most advanced, cutting-edge care for our patients, treating both common and complex conditions. We also offer services that seek to improve the health of our communities, including heart screenings, free clinics, and heart health education. Find an expert near you.