If you’re following a heart-healthy diet, it might feel like dessert is out of the question. However, you can make many ingredient swaps to add heart-friendly benefits to your favorite sweet treats. With a bit of experimenting, you might find some new favorites!
As with any eating plan, remember that a heart-healthy diet doesn’t have to be all or nothing. It’s important to find an eating pattern that feels sustainable to you in the long term, and for many people, that will include the occasional dessert (1).
Continue reading to learn more about how to healthify your favorite desserts and find a list of 12 delicious, heart-healthy dessert recipes.
How to Make a Dessert Heart-Healthy
If you’re new to a heart-healthy diet, a good starting point is to think about the usual desserts you eat and where you can begin making easy swaps.
The American Heart Association recommends limiting saturated fat, highly processed foods, added sugars, and sodium (2). Because many desserts include ingredients like butter, cream, refined sugar, and white flour, they are not considered heart-healthy.
When making a dessert, the goal is to find ways to include heart-healthy ingredients like whole grains, fruits, vegetables, healthy fats, and lean proteins (1). Though every swap won’t apply to every recipe, try to pick one or two to start with.
- Use whole wheat flour, oats, or nut flours instead of white flour.
- Replace butter or oil with applesauce, mashed banana, mashed avocado, Greek yogurt, or pumpkin puree.
- Reduce the sugar by 25-50%.
- Use an egg substitute, such as 1 Tbsp of chia seeds or flax meal soaked in 3 Tbsp warm water or 1 Tbsp vegetable oil mixed with 1 tsp baking powder and 1 Tbsp water.
- Add shredded carrots or zucchini to quick breads or muffins.
- Choose fruit-based desserts.
- Add nuts to your recipes.
It can also be helpful to think about reducing certain ingredients instead of completely replacing them in a recipe. For example, try replacing half of the butter in a dessert with applesauce or using half whole wheat flour.
Heart Healthy Desserts
The following list of delicious desserts all include heart-healthy ingredients, such as whole grains, fruit, avocado, and Greek yogurt. Enjoy in moderation!
Before making dietary changes, it’s best to talk with your doctor or a registered dietitian about specific guidelines for you.
These brownies are packed with heart-healthy fiber from black beans and oats, and the best part is that they don’t taste any different from regular brownies. That’s because all of the ingredients are blended together until smooth– no whole beans to be found.
This recipe does contain vegetable oil, which is considered a heart-healthy unsaturated fat. However, if you want to replace the oil, you can substitute it with natural peanut butter for a heavenly chocolate-peanut butter combination.
2. Baked Apples
One of the best ways to enjoy a naturally sweet dessert is baked apples. Simply wash and core a whole apple and stuff it with delicious fillings like pecans, cinnamon, or dates before baking.
Because the natural sweetness of the fruit is enhanced by baking it, a small pinch of brown sugar or drizzle of maple syrup goes a long way. Baked pears are another fruit that makes an excellent dessert.
Frozen yogurt bark is a simple yet beautiful heart-healthy dessert– just spread out low-sugar Greek yogurt on a lined baking sheet, sprinkle some toppings, and freeze. When completely frozen, break it into chunks for a delicious frozen treat.
The yogurt has protein to keep you satisfied, and the toppings are a great opportunity to add fiber. Favorite heart-healthy toppings include nuts, fresh fruit, and granola.
The idea of avocado chocolate pudding may sound odd, but it’s actually a delicious vegan dessert that completely masks the flavor and texture of the heart-healthy avocado.
This recipe comes together quickly with only five ingredients–avocado, banana, cocoa powder, maple syrup, and vanilla. It gives you a creamy chocolate fix while being rich in healthy fats and fiber.
You can make these chocolate nut clusters in less than 15 minutes, and they are packed with fiber and healthy fats from the mixed nuts. Add in heart-healthy dark chocolate, and you’re left with a rich, satisfying dessert for any day.
Fruit crisps are a wonderful way to make a heart-healthy dessert for a party or family dinner. The fruit and oats are the stars, resulting in a treat loaded with fiber and antioxidants.
Though apples and peaches are common staples of fruit crisps, apricots are the star of this recipe. Use coconut or date sugar instead of refined sugar, and substitute vegetable oil for the butter to make this recipe even more nutritious.
Carrot cake oatmeal cookies are the perfect way to get your vegetables in a dessert. With shredded carrots, oats, and whole wheat flour, this recipe is full of heart-healthy ingredients without skimping on the flavor.
This simple cheesecake recipe doesn’t require any baking and is sure to be a hit. The star of this dessert is Greek yogurt, which replaces some of the cream cheese and thickens the filling without baking.
In addition to the yogurt boosting protein and reducing the fat content of this dish, the fresh cherry topping adds fiber and antioxidants to this adorable cheesecake in a jar.
These chocolate dessert balls are jam-packed with heart-healthy superfoods. From almonds to chia seeds to freeze-dried berries, this dessert will satisfy your chocolate craving and support heart health.
A bonus is that this recipe is refined sugar-free, getting its sweetness solely from Medjool dates.
Made in a loaf pan, this chocolate cake contains yogurt to reduce the fat content and add some protein. There are many substitution options available for this recipe. For the most heart health benefits, choose spelt or oat flour, reduce the sugar, and choose peanut butter instead of oil.
Simple yet delicious, these banana pops are the perfect frozen heart-healthy treat. Simply peel and halve your bananas, dip them in vanilla yogurt, add sprinkles, and freeze!
This recipe is high in fiber, vitamins, and protein and can help satisfy cravings for frozen desserts.
Drizzle with natural peanut butter before freezing for added protein and heart-healthy fats. Be sure to use low-sugar yogurt as well.
12. Samoa Truffles
If you enjoy Girl Scout cookies, you’ll love these Samoa truffles. Toasted coconut, dates, and chocolate combine to mimic the flavor of the famous Samoa cookies.
These delicious truffles are sweetened primarily with dates and include heart-healthy ingredients like nut flour and dark chocolate. For a slightly less sweet option, omit the maple syrup.