The types of heart-healthy desserts include a wide variety of dishes that are low-fat, offer healthy proteins, and feature fruits, as well as those that include whole grains. Replacing solid fats with healthier alternatives is key for low-fat desserts, and skim or non-dairy ingredients provide protein without raising cholesterol. Healthy fruit desserts are heart-healthy when little sugar or fat is added. Whole grain desserts may include a baked good or other type of dessert with added ingredients like flax, germ, or bran.
Low-fat, heart-healthy desserts help to limit the intake of saturated and trans fats, and they can also lower cholesterol. Solid fats like butter and shortening are replaced with healthier or lower fat alternatives. Desserts made with olive or canola oil instead of butter or low-fat yogurt instead of heavy cream for a filling or topping are examples. Canola, flax, and unhydrogenated soy oils offer omega-3 fatty acids, extremely important for heart health. Certain recipes may further cut fats by calling for substitutes like applesauce or bananas, binders that are significantly lower in fat and offer other heart-healthy benefits.
Desserts with low-fat protein sources also keep the heart in shape. Treats featuring low-fat dairy ingredients like cheese or milk or egg whites work well and they do not contain trans fats. Tofu desserts are also heart-healthy and provide a protein-rich alternative to dairy ingredients. These heart-healthy desserts may also contain certain types of beans that give texture and protein to brownies or cookies.
Heart-healthy desserts featuring fruit provide important vitamins, nutrients, and taste. They also help to prevent cardiovascular disease when prepared with other heart-healthy ingredients. These desserts typically feature fruit as a main ingredient with little or no added sugar or fatty ingredients. Good flavor, instead, comes from using fresh, quality fruit and herbs, or preparation methods to bring out a food's natural notes. Examples include a tart made with fresh berries and mint on a whole wheat pastry crust or a baked fruit with a healthy oat crisp topping, among others. Heart-healthy desserts that use fruits as fillers are also effective, like healthy versions of zucchini or banana breads.
Whole grain desserts provide plenty of fiber and nutrients, important for blood pressure regulation and other heart functions. Baked goods that use a whole grain flour or meal fall into this category, as well as any dessert featuring whole grains for a topping or added ingredient. Brownies, cookies, or cakes made with whole wheat or oat flours are common. Fiber-rich ingredients like flax seed, wheat germ, or bran may also be key ingredients.