What Makes a Recipe “Healthy”?

Heart healthy. High-fiber. Low-carb. In the never-ending quest to “eat healthy,” a lot of terms get bounced around—but what exactly do they mean? To stick to a more healthful diet you need to know how to evaluate the nutrition facts on your recipes and packaged food labels. Keep in mind that "healthy" guidelines are not standardized across organizations: different groups may have different points of view.  

Healthy recipes defined

The following guidelines for evaluating the health impact of Aisle7 recipes was developed with a nutritionist and other health professionals. Our heart-healthy criteria are based on the American Heart Association's recommendations. Generally, we judge a recipe "healthy" when it meets the recommended daily nutritional amounts per serving as defined below for a typical 2,000 calorie diet.

  • Cholesterol: Less than 300 mg per day
  • Total carbohydrate: No more than 300 grams per day
  • Fiber: At least 25 grams per day
  • Sodium: No more than 2,400 mg per day
  • Potassium: At least 3,500 mg per day
  • Protein: No more than 50 grams per day
  • Total fat: No more than 65 grams per day
  • Saturated fat: No more than 20 grams per day
  • Trans fats: Trans fatty acids occur naturally in meat and dairy products in small amounts but are created artificially when oils are partially hydrogenated to increase the shelf life of packaged products. High trans fat intake has been associated with increased heart disease risk. Avoid transfats whenever possible, particularly those from partially hydrogenated oils, and limit your overall intake to less than 1% of your daily calories.

Other recipe categories

  • High-Fiber: At least 5 grams per serving
  • Low-Carb: 35% or fewer calories from carbohydrates
  • Low-Sodium: 140 mg or less per serving
  • Low-Fat: 3 grams or less per serving and less than 30% of calories from fat
  • Heart Healthy: 3 grams or less total fat, 1 gram or less saturated fat, 20 mg or less cholesterol, 480 mg or less sodium, 10% of one of the following: vitamin A, vitamin C, iron, calcium, protein, or dietary fiber
  • Low-Sugar: 5 grams or less per serving
  • Low-Glycemic Index: Complex definition requiring other information
  • Gluten-Free: No wheat, barley, rye, spelt, or processed oats
  • Quick & Easy: 30 minutes or less to prep and cook; six or fewer ingredients
  • Kid-Friendly: Healthy, well-rounded nutrition; easy to make and eat; not for a complex palette
  • Budget-Friendly: Meals for less than $3 per serving. Ingredient costs reflect the national average and may fluctuate by region and retailer.
  • Diabetes-Friendly: Follows complex healthy eating guidelines that do not apply to all people with diabetes.

Copyright © 2014 Aisle7. All rights reserved. Aisle7.com

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Information expires June 2015.

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