Heart-healthy cooking used to make people think of soft, bland, tasteless, colorless food. But that’s just not how this works. Chili is a great comfort food this time of year. For a healthy twist on the hearty classic, try this easy chili recipe that takes only about 40 minutes to prepare. It’s low in sodium, cholesterol, sugar, and fat (less than 3 grams of saturated fat), but loaded with protein, fiber, and flavor! You can easily adjust the seasonings and add more heat:


  • 1 lb. 95% lean ground beef (or ground white meat chicken or turkey for a healthier option)
  • 1 medium onion (chopped)
  • 1 medium green bell pepper (chopped)
  • 1 medium jalapeño (optional, only if you like spicy chili), chopped
  • 4 cloves minced, fresh garlic OR 2 tsp. jarred, minced garlic
  • 1 Tbsp. chili powder
  • 1 Tbsp. ground cumin
  • ½ tsp. ground coriander
  • 15.5 oz. canned, no-salt-added or low-sodium pinto or kidney beans, rinsed, drained1
  • 14.5 oz. canned, no-salt-added, or, low-sodium, diced tomatoes (undrained)
  • ¾ cup jarred salsa (lowest sodium available)

Tip: if you want 5-alarm chili, add 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper


  1. Spray large saucepan with cooking spray. Cook beef and onion over medium-high heat for 5-7 minutes, stirring constantly to break up beef. Transfer to colander and rinse with water to drain excess fat. Return beef to pan.
  2. Stir in bell pepper, garlic, chili powder, and cumin, and cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  3. Add remaining ingredients and bring to a boil. Reduce to simmer, cover and cook for 20 minutes.
  4. Optional – serve topped with low-fat grated cheese, a dollop of fat-free sour cream, sliced avocado, snipped cilantro or chopped green onions.

Nutrition Data

  • Servings: 4
  • Cook time: 30 minutes
  • Calories:2 297
  • Sat Fat:2 2.5 mg.
  • Sodium:2 288 mg.

1 canned black beans or other cooked beans can also be used
2 per serving

Recipe copyright © 2016 American Heart Association.


For instant pot fans, here’s a recipe for turkey-stuffed peppers. Even with prep time, you can get it on the dinner table in less than an hour. (It can also be made without an instant pot.)

A word about frying

While we know that broiling and steaming are healthier preparation options, some foods just need to be fried. When you must fry or sauté, try using canola or olive oil instead of vegetable oil or shortening. If you’re a high-tech junkie, you might be interested in a hot air fryer.

Replacing ingredients

You can make almost any recipe healthier with a few simple substitutions. Here’s a quick guide to replacing ingredients:

Baking Save calories by replacing all or part of the fat in baked goods. If something that you like is creamy and tasty, you can probably use it. Instead of butter or oil, try using banana, avocado, or apple sauce in your favorite recipes. (Shopping hack: Baby food — like pureed pears and peaches — works too!)
Bread and pasta Pass on the enriched flour and go for whole grain pastas and breads. And here’s an added benefit: they usually have a nutty flavor that’s delicious as well as wholesome!
Dairy Avoid using whole milk products. Try milk that’s 2% or less. For cheese, look for the words “part skim.” (FunFact: In general, “fat free” dairy is still dairy; it’s just made with skim milk.)
Meat Ground turkey or chicken can easily replace ground beef in recipes (think turkey meatballs the next time you make spaghetti). Not quite sure how this substitution tastes? Just opt for a 50/50 mix of beef and poultry.
Vegetables There’s just no such thing as too many veggies in our diet. Feel like strolling beyond your culinary comfort zone? Try making mashed “potatoes” with cauliflower or surprising the family with spaghetti squash instead of regular pasta sometime. The next time you crave a savory snack, try kale chips instead of potato chips (FunFact: they’re baked, not fried).

With just a few modifications, you can easily make the switch to heart-healthy cooking. And remember, any time you need Teladoc, you can reach us 24/7 by app, web, or phone anywhere in the U.S. Our board-certified physicians treat flu, bronchitis, and many other non-emergency conditions. Have fun in the kitchen!


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