Eating a heart-healthy diet does not mean a person needs to cut out all sweets and desserts. Substituting ingredients such as butter for heart-healthy alternatives can allow people to include baked goods and treats in their diet.

Heart disease is one of the leading causes of death in the United States — according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 6.2 million people are currently living with heart failure.

Consuming heart-healthy foods and avoiding foods high in saturated fat and cholesterol is a key part of managing heart disease. However, people can still have the treats and baked goods they enjoy by making a few simple swaps.

This article includes five delicious recipes for heart-healthy desserts, including snickerdoodle cookies, brownies, and banana bread.

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Eating a heart-healthy diet is important in preventing and managing heart disease.

Foods high in saturated fat, sodium, and cholesterol can be harmful to the heart, so a heart-healthy diet aims to reduce these. However, cutting out foods can feel restrictive and overwhelming.

People should focus on including heart-healthy foods when following a long-term heart-healthy diet. Examples include:

Many heart-healthy recipes contain vegetable oils that are low in saturated fats, however, it is important to consume these in moderation. Vegetable oils are high in omega-6 fatty acids, and most research indicates that people should aim for an optimal ratio of omega-3 and omega-6 fats. Consuming omega-6s in excess may cause inflammation.

Eating a heart-healthy diet does not mean a person has to stop eating all baked goods and treats. A person can try experimenting with different ingredient swaps. Some of these substitutes work better in certain recipes. For example, black beans substitute well for flour in fudgy brownies, and canned pumpkin in place of butter works well in pumpkin spice cookies and muffins.

IngredientHeart-healthy substitute
buttercanned pumpkin
mashed avocado
Greek yogurt
vegetable oil
eggschia or flax egg
sugarstevia sugar blend
maple syrup
black beans

The following recipes are adapted from the American Heart Association (AHA) and the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (AND).

Snickerdoodle cookies

This snickerdoodle cookie recipe from the AHA makes 24 cookies.


  • 1 cup vegetable margarine or vegan butter — free from trans fats
  • 1/4 cup stevia sugar blend (Truvia) or 1/3 cup cane sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp cinnamon


  • Preheat oven to 400°F / 204°C
  • Beat the margarine and sugar with an electric mixer or stand mixer. Reserve 1 tbsp of sugar.
  • Once the mixture becomes light and fluffy, add the egg and vanilla.
  • In a separate bowl, whisk the flour, baking powder, and salt.
  • Slowly add the dry mixture to the wet, mixing after each addition. Be sure not to overmix.
  • In a separate bowl, combine the cinnamon and reserved sugar.
  • Shape the dough into 1-in balls and roll each in the sugar mixture. Arrange them on a baking sheet and gently flatten each with a fork or spoon.
  • Bake for 8–10 minutes.

Coconut chocolate truffles

This no-bake recipe from the AND makes 14 truffles.


  • 10–12 pitted Medjool dates
  • 2 tbsp water
  • 1/4 cup cocoa powder
  • 1/2 cup puffed rice cereal
  • 1/2 cup shredded coconut, unsweetened


  • Soak the dates in water for 15–30 minutes.
  • Add softened dates and water to a food processor and pulse until it becomes a smooth paste.
  • Add the cocoa powder and pulse until combined.
  • Scoop this mixture into a large mixing bowl. Add the rice cereal and gently stir to combine.
  • Use a spoon or small scoop to form 1-in balls.
  • Roll each ball in coconut.
  • Place on a baking sheet or tray and refrigerate for 1 hour.

Apple blueberry crumble

This recipe from the AND makes six servings. People can serve it with low fat frozen yogurt or whipped topping.


For the fruit mixture:

  • 3 large apples
  • 1 cup frozen blueberries
  • 1–2 tbsp brown sugar
  • 2 tbsp flour
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice

For the topping:

  • 1/2 cup old-fashioned oats
  • 1/2 cup nuts — walnuts, almonds, peanuts
  • 2 tbsp brown sugar
  • 2 tbsp flour
  • 2 tbsp milled flax
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil


  • Preheat the oven to 400°F / 204°C.
  • Combine all ingredients for the fruit mixture and gently stir until thoroughly mixed.
  • In a separate bowl, combine all topping ingredients and mix.
  • Scoop the fruit mixture into an 8 x 8-in baking pan. Evenly spread the topping mixture on top.
  • Bake for 30–45 minutes or until golden brown.

Chocolate brownies

This low sugar brownie recipe from the AHA makes 16 servings.


  • 1/2 cup stevia sugar blend
  • 10–20 drops of liquid stevia — adjust to taste
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1/2 cup cocoa powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt


  • Preheat the oven to 350°F / 177°C.
  • Spray a baking sheet with cooking spray or line with parchment paper.
  • Mix the stevia sugar blend, stevia drops, eggs, oil, and vanilla extract.
  • Whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, and salt.
  • Gradually stir the dry ingredients into the wet. Stir until no flour is visible.
  • Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 25–30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.

Banana bread

This nutritious banana bread recipe from the AHA makes 24 slices.


  • 3/4 cup stevia sugar blend
  • 4 ripe bananas, mashed
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup fruit juice, such as orange juice
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 cups flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp salt


  • Preheat the oven to 350°F / 177°C.
  • Spray one large or two small loaf tins with cooking spray. Alternatively, line them with parchment paper.
  • Thoroughly mix the stevia, mashed bananas, egg, juice, oil, and vanilla extract.
  • In a large bowl, whisk the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt.
  • Add the dry ingredients to the wet and mix until just combined.
  • Pour the batter into the pan(s). Bake for 30–40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
  • Allow to cool completely and serve.

Eating a heart-healthy diet may feel restrictive, but people can still enjoy treats and baked goods. Making simple ingredient swaps can make them part of a heart-healthy eating plan. For example, people can try swapping pumpkin puree for butter, oats for flour, and stevia sugar blend for cane sugar.