14 Heart-Healthy Recipes That Don't Taste Like 'Diet Food'

Seared Salmon Pistachio Gremolata
Photo: Jacob Fox

Health-conscious readers picked their favorite online heart-healthy recipes and we've chosen the top 15 from their favorites. Whether it's a dessert, breakfast cookie, chicken recipe, or vegetarian dish, these heart-healthy recipes are full of flavor and fit any occasion.

01 of 14

Macaroni and Cheese with Cashew Cream

Macaroni and Cheese with Cashew Cream
Carson Downing

You deserve to upgrade from the basic boxed mac. There's no mysterious, vibrantly-orange powder, or goo here. The sauce for this sneakily-nutritious 25-minute meal is made with soaked raw cashews blended up into a cream. Combine the sauce with two types of real cheese, punchy spices, and a nearly ½ cup of broccoli per person, and you have one of our best heart-healthy recipes for picky eaters.

02 of 14

Sweet Potato, White Bean Hummus, and Israeli Salad

Sweet Potato, White Bean Hummus, and Israeli Salad
Blaine Moats

Taste the rainbow with this just-so-happens-to-be-vegan heart-healthy recipe to lower cholesterol. Ideal for a meal prep lunch or light dinner, this sweet potato dish is speedy to prep since you "bake" the vitamin-rich spud in the microwave. Multitask by shaking up the dressing, mashing up the bean blend, and tossing together the herb-laced vegetable topping. "A perfect vegetarian meal," one BH&G home cook raves. "My husband, who is a big meat eater, loved it too!"

03 of 14

Seared Salmon with Pistachio Gremolata

Seared Salmon Pistachio Gremolata
Jacob Fox

Countless cardiologists agree: The Mediterranean diet is among the best lifestyles to prevent cardiovascular disease. And with heart-healthy Mediterranean recipes that taste this incredible, it's colorful and easy to stick to the program. Carve out 25 minutes and grab one skillet; that's all you'll need to sear salmon to perfection. The healthy fat-filled nut and herb topping really helps the flavors pop.

04 of 14

Spiced Chicken-Lentil Tacos with Quick-Pickled Red Onions

Spiced Chicken-Lentil Tacos Quick-Pickled Red Onions
Jacob Fox

If your go-to takeout, fast food, or food truck order is Mexican, you'll definitely want to save this heart-healthy recipe for dinner. Thanks to lentils, a legume that has become one of our favorite superfoods, each two-serving taco recipe delivers an impressive nine grams of fiber. That's more than one-third of your daily recommended intake! Corn tortillas serve as the perfect vehicle for warmly-spiced, protein-strong chicken, quick-pickled onions, and a citrusy sauce.

05 of 14

Holiday Slow Cooker Ribollita

Holiday Slow Cooker Ribollita
Jason Donnelly

No need to wait for a holiday. If you're looking to clean out your produce drawer, this heart-healthy diet recipe feeds 10 and packs in more than 10 cups of vegetables—plus fiber superstar beans and plenty of flavorful fresh herbs. Cook this classic Tuscan bread and vegetable soup on high for one hour or on low for two hours, then finish with a mountain of kale and crusty bread to deliver on the ribollita promise.

06 of 14

Portobello Pot Roast

roasted portobello mushrooms with vegetables
Blaine Moats

A high intake of saturated fat, which is found in animal foods like steak, is related to higher cholesterol and to a less healthy heart. So instead of your usual beef, try a mushroom recipe next time you're in the mood for a hearty dinner. Since this vegan heart-healthy recipe also calls for other vegetables, including potatoes and carrots, each serving is high in fiber—and, as a result, super-satisfying. "This recipe jumped off the page. I made it tonight and it is delicious, and my husband loved it as well," one five-star reviewer says. "This was my first time using fresh horseradish. Wow, what a wonderful kick it adds."

07 of 14

Grilled Pork with Apple and Grape Bowls

Bowl of Grilled Pork with Apple and Grape with fork and knife to the side
Brie Passano

Yes, pork can still be on the menu when you're aiming to eat for cardiovascular health. Lean pork tenderloin actually has less cholesterol per serving than shrimp, beef sirloin, lamb, and even skinless chicken. So for this heart-healthy recipe for dinner, we pair grilled pork tenderloin with grilled apples and onions, high-protein quinoa, and peppery arugula. Finish the grain bowl with an herb-spiked olive oil and mustard vinaigrette.

08 of 14

Zucchini, Summer Squash, and Chicken Salad

Zucchini Summer Squash and Chicken Salad
Carson Downing

You might be more familiar with mayo-loaded chicken salad, but this heart-healthy recipe, low-sodium-style remix will inspire you to turn over a new leaf. Poached chicken stars atop a bed of squash ribbons, corn, and tomatoes all tossed with a splash of olive oil. "So yummy and fresh! Great summer salad. We ate it as a main dish with bread and dipping oil," one BH&G fan says.

09 of 14

Bulgur-Stuffed Acorn Squash

Bulgur-Stuffed Roasted Acorn Squash
Blaine Moats

Fiber-rich whole grains play a role in many of our best heart-healthy recipes. In addition to being nutty and delicious, whole grains like red bulgur—the option featured here—are so hearty you won't even miss the meat. Sweet-tart antioxidant-rich dried tart cherries, meaty-textured roasted squash, and buttery hazelnuts (hello, healthy fat!) team up with the grain to deliver one majorly satisfying vegetarian feast.

10 of 14

Avocado-Yogurt Spaghetti with Veggies

avocado-yogurt spaghetti with veggies
Brie Passano

Few avocado recipes or pasta recipes deliver on one important factor: texture! This 30-minute whole grain pasta dinner is packed with plenty of crunch and vitamins thanks to bell pepper, cucumber, avocado, and high-protein Greek yogurt. It is a heart-healthy recipe that satisfies all your texture cravings in one hearty dish.

11 of 14

Farro Salad-Stuffed Avocados

Farro Salad-Stuffed Avocados
Carson Downing

If you're lucky enough to have more avocados handy, this is one of the best heart-healthy recipes to put three of them to tasty use once they reach prime ripeness. To make the plant-based masterpiece, cook whole grain farro in vegetable broth, then toss with low-cal flavor-boosters including harissa paste, smoked paprika, lemon, and fresh dill. Mix in even more heart-healthy veggies, stuff inside avocado halves, and drizzle with a sesame-strong Greek yogurt tahini sauce.

12 of 14

Salmon in Parchment

Salmon Parchment
Andy Lyons

Certain cooking techniques are more heart smart than others. Frying and butter basting? Not so much. But grilling, baking, and parchment packet roasting? Your taste buds and your heart would cheer if they could. This heart-healthy Mediterranean recipe employs the latter strategy to infuse and perfectly cook a stack of anti-inflammatory foods, including omega 3-rich salmon fillets, more than one cup of vegetables per person, plus fresh herbs and olive oil. Pair with whole grain brown rice and brighten up the finished product with a spritz of orange juice.

13 of 14

Black Bean and Rice Patties with Fresh Tomato-Avocado Salsa

plate of Black Bean and Rice Patties with Fresh Tomato-Avocado Salsa
Brie Passano

The next time you're craving a beef burger but are seeking a cardio-friendly option, veg out. Veggie burgers—including this heart-healthy recipe for picky eaters—often feature beans (here, black beans) and whole grains (brown rice is nice!) to offer protein, fiber, and zero cholesterol. Pair the patties with a fresh avocado and tomato salsa and you won't even miss the bun.

14 of 14

Poblanos with Late-Summer Vegetables and Shrimp

Poblanos with Late-Summer Vegetables and Shrimp
Carson Downing

Spices, citrus, and herbs help make heart-healthy recipes for dinner so flavorful, you don't even notice they're low-sodium. (These shrimp-stuffed peppers have just 187 milligrams per fully-loaded poblano!) "This was a great recipe," confirms a five-star reviewer. "The dressing made it really sing. Corn provides the sweetness, the dressing [offers] the sour and heat, and shrimp provides a nice fresh taste."

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