Tips for cooking heart-healthy food

(Photo from the Alabama Cooperative Extension)

AUBURN UNIVERSITY, Ala. – According to the American Heart Association (AHA), heart disease and stroke are the leading causes of death worldwide. Consuming too many unhealthy fats, such as saturated and trans fats in your diet, can increase the risk of heart disease and stroke. The AHA recommends limiting your daily intake of saturated fat to 120 calories or 13 grams. Changing your cooking method and learning how to cook heart-healthy foods with less fat can help to reduce the intake of unhealthy fat and prevent the onset of chronic diseases.

Cooking Methods

Try using the following cooking methods to avoid cooking with added fat:

  • Bake. Cook foods slowly in dry heat.
  • Blanch. Boil the food briefly then plunge into ice water to stop the cooking.
  • Braise. Cook food using both dry heat from an oven or the stovetop and wet heat from liquid.
  • Broil. Cook directly under a heat source at a high temperature.
  • Grill. Cook directly over a heat source.
  • Poach. Cook by immersing food in simmering liquid like water, broth or wine.
  • Roast. Cook uncovered in the oven.
  • Sauté. Cook food in a pan over direct heat using a small amount of liquid, such as vegetable stock, fruit juice, wine, healthy oil or cooking spray, or water.
  • Steam. Cook in a steam basket over a pot of boiling water.
  • Stir-fry. Use a wok or large pan to cook food quickly over very high heat in a small amount of liquid or oil.

More Healthy Cooking Tips

Consider using the following tips for healthy cooking with less fat:

  • Instead of fried chicken, try oven-baked chicken and remove the skin before eating.
  • Try lemon juice or herbed vinegar for a fat-free dressing and reduced calories.
  • Use ground turkey as a lower-fat alternative to ground beef.
  • Microwave vegetables instead of sautéing.
  • Avoid added butter and oils by using nonstick cookware instead to reduce fats.
  • Modify recipes to decrease butter and lard that are high in saturated fats.
  • Plan meals with herbs, spices, and other natural flavorings instead of salt or fat.

Preparing your food using these healthier methods and techniques allows you to capture the flavor and retain the nutrients without adding excessive amounts of fat or salt. Get started by enjoying this delicious recipe for crispy oven-baked chicken:


Vegetable oil spray, butter-flavored original
4 cups wheat-flake cereal, lightly crushed
1 clove garlic, crushed, or ½ teaspoon bottled minced garlic (optional)
1 teaspoon lemon pepper
1 teaspoon paprika
12 drumsticks, skinned


  1. Preheat oven to 350 °F.
  2. Spray a baking sheet with vegetable oil and set aside.
  3. Crush cereal in a pie pan or on a piece of foil.  Stir in garlic and set aside.
  4. Season drumsticks with lemon pepper, paprika, salt, and pepper.
  5. Roll chicken in cereal crumbs to coat.
  6. Spray chicken lightly on all sides with vegetable oil spray and place on prepared baking sheet.
  7. Bake chicken for 45-60 minutes or until chicken is golden brown and tender.

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