Heart Healthy Muffins: What are the Healthiest Muffins and Best Ingredients?

Ingredients to Avoid

Trans fats are the artificial fats found in many ingredients and foods such as margarine, shortenings and ready made dough or mixes. These trans fats, otherwise known as partially hydrogenated oils, are bad for the heart and should be avoided by using alternate ingredients when baking heart healthy muffins. Other foods to steer clear of when baking muffins that are heart healthy include high cholesterol items such as whole eggs, whole dairy products, and sauces or gravies. Lastly, for keeping a healthy heart, avoid high levels of sodium.

Best Substitute Ingredients

Using fresh ingredients, not pre-made, helps keep ingredients closer to their naturally grown state, which makes them better for a person. Using alternatives such as bananas or unsweetened applesauce instead of butter or oils dramatically improves a recipe.

Use fruits and vegetables and puree them into batter for muffins. For instance, try walnut and zucchini muffins. Use pureed zucchini to replace some fat and add nutritional value, much the same way unsweetened applesauce does. Unsweetened applesauce is best used in muffin recipes that call for spices such as nutmeg, cinnamon, or poppy seeds. Because salt is needed when baking to keep baked goods from tasting "flat", use sea salt to lower the sodium content.

Ideas for Making Heart Healthy Muffins

If you would like to make your own muffins, but feel challenged about keeping them healthy, here are ideas for altering recipes to suit many palates, while keeping them heart healthy. Ingredient substitutions for heart healthy muffins include:

Try using whole wheat flour when baking heart healthy muffins. Use whole wheat flour to replace one-third to half the amount of regular white flour in any baking recipe. Using two egg whites in place of a whole egg reduces the cholesterol in homemade muffins, and adding one-half cup of unsweetened applesauce to muffin batter instead of butter lowers the saturated fat, cholesterol, and sodium. If a recipe calls for milk, use skim milk to reduce the saturated fat content.

Add the desired heart-healthy ingredients to vary the taste of a basic recipe. Some suggestions are to add one-half cup pureed banana instead of applesauce and one-quarter cup chopped walnuts. Another way to add zesty flavor is to add two to three teaspoons lemon juice, a teaspoon grated lemon peel, and a quarter teaspoon of fresh ground cinnamon. Furthermore, for a variation with a totally different flair, add one cup grated zucchini, three-fourths cup of unsweetened cocoa powder, and one-fourth cup ground flaxseed to a recipe. There are several ways to take a recipe and turn it into a delicious breakfast or anytime meal. Just knowing how to make the right changes can make something to avoid into something to enjoy.

For those who love baked muffins, but do not have the time or desire to bake, there are a few varieties of store bought brands to choose from. Look for brands that contain 100 percent whole wheat, oatmeal or bran. Read the ingredients list to see if they compare with those ingredients listed above, and aim to buy fresh, not frozen, to avoid excess preservatives. Whether store bought or fresh baked, heart healthy muffins can be just as good and good for everyone.

Resources

Fats 101-www.heart.org

Healthy Recipes: A guide to ingredient substitutions-www.mayoclinic.com

Better Homes and Gardens New CookBook