Heart Healthy Dessert Guide

Turn up the oven or go the no-bake route – this heart healthy dessert guide will keep you focused on wholesome and nutritious ingredients!


A heart-healthy diet is one that is low in trans and saturated fat, sodium and added sugar. But that doesn’t mean you need to say buh bye to dessert! You simply need to get creative with the ingredients you choose – think beyond butter, sugar and white flour and embrace whole-grains and fibrous fruit!


As you might imagine, the most challenging part about making a heart healthy dessert is tackling the butter and sugar while still making it taste great. I mean REALLY great. As in, a dessert you would want to indulge in for your birthday or serve to your guests at a holiday party.

heart healthy dessert tips

Let’s set the stage really quick. The American Heart Association recommends no more than 25 grams (6 tsp) of added sugar per day for women and 37.5 grams (9 tsp) for men. Yet, many traditional desserts pack this amount (or more!) in a single serving – leaving the average American to consume 120 grams (30 tsp) of added sugar per day…yikes! Added sugar refers to any kind of sugar (from white cane sugar to maple syrup) that doesn’t come from fruit (fructose) or dairy (lactose).


What is a Heart Healthy Dessert?

Ok back to desserts. I’m not going to lie, creating a heart healthy dessert is not easy. But it’s also not impossible. And with so many amazing resources, ingredients and kitchen gadgets to give nutritious desserts that perfect crunchy, flaky, chewy, or fluffy texture, feeding your sweet tooth the healthy way has never been easier.


So what exactly qualifies as a heart healthy dessert? Below are nutrition guidelines (based on the American Heart Association Heart-Check Recipe Certification Program) and approved ingredients to inspire your next baking challenge!

heart healthy dessert tips


Don’t freak out.

There’s healthy hope for your favorite dessert!


Now that you know the rules, let’s get real about how to stick to them. Here are some of my favorite heart healthy dessert pantry staples to get you started on the right track!


Heart Healthy Dessert Pantry Staples



  • Unsweetened Chocolate – Look for unsweetened cocoa powder (5), cacao nibs, carob chips (what’s the difference?) and fruit- or grain-sweetened chocolate products like Wax Orchard Chocolate Sauce (9) (sweetened with pineapple and pear juice concentrates) or Sunspire grain-sweetened chocolate chips (10) (sweetened with malt barley and corn). Check out these Cocoa Brownies (made with unsweetened cocoa powder) and these Healthy Rice Crispy Treats (made with carob chips).


Heart Healthy Dessert Ingredients

  • Natural Non-Nutritive Sweeteners – Look for stevia or monkfruit varieties. Substitute 1 cup of sugar with ½ cup stevia baking blends (6) (a blend of half cane sugar or brown sugar and half stevia) or combine stevia with a starch to create a powdered sugar substitute.


  • Seed Eggs – Consider a plant-based egg in place of the real thing. Combine 1 Tbsp ground flaxseed (7) or chia seeds with 3 Tbsp warm water; stir and let sit for a few minutes until thickened. A flax egg acts as a binder in this delicious Gluten-Free Vegan Irish Soda Bread recipe!



  • Aquafaba Meringue – Use the cooking liquid of beans (4) or legumes (the liquid commonly drained and discarded from a can or box of beans) to replace egg whites in meringues, macarons, pavlovas and more! 3 Tbsp aquafaba = 1 whole egg; 2 Tbsp = one egg white. Learn how to make it here!


Now for the challenge – transform your favorite traditional butter and sugar-laden dessert into something nutritious! Trial and error is required – no one ever perfected a heart healthy dessert on the first try. Are you up for the challenge?


Looking for more heart healthy dessert tips?


Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *