20 Heart Healthy Protein-Based Recipes

Grilled salmon or tuna steak recipe

The Spruce / Julia Hartbeck

According to the American Heart Association, the protein-filled foods to seek out on a day-to-day basis include lean fish, poultry, and beans. Chicken is a low-fat meat that's easy to feature as the main dish or add to lots of other dishes from chili to pasta to sandwiches. Fish is also a popular high-protein choice. In addition to tasting delicious, it's high in omega-3 fatty acids, something that can help reduce the risk of heart disease, stroke, cardiac arrest, and heart failure. All beans are good for you, including kidney, cannellini, pinto, black, and garbanzo. These mighty legumes also have the benefit of being fat-free and containing a lot of fiber.

That doesn't mean a healthy heart diet can't include pork, beef, or lamb, but these meats have more saturated fat than poultry and fish. Choosing leaner cuts, trimming fat, and keeping portions small make these foods an acceptable part of a healthy diet. Use our collection of high-protein, healthy dishes as inspiration for your next meal.

  • 01 of 20

    Pesto Chicken Pasta Salad

    Garden pasta salad with rotini

    The Spruce

    Keep lunch or dinner simple with a chicken pesto salad. Use canned, leftover, or roasted chicken in this dish and pack it full of fresh or steamed vegetables. It's healthy, filling, and only takes about 30 minutes to prepare. 

  • 02 of 20

    Salmon Ceviche With Mango

    salmon ceviche

    The Spruce / Diana Chistruga

    Make this refreshing salmon ceviche for lunch or a summery dinner. It's a low-fat, heart-healthy meal that's sweet from the mango and spicy too thanks to the addition of jalapeños.

  • 03 of 20

    Cannellini White Bean Soup with Swiss Chard

    White bean soup

    The Spruce / Anastasiia Tretiak

    This vegan white bean soup has lots of fiber and protein thanks to the beans. Hearty Swiss chard and orzo give the soup even more body and make a satisfying meal.

  • 04 of 20

    Chilled Lobster With Mimosa Dressing

    lobster

    The Spruce / Diana Rattray

    Lobster is a great high-protein food to eat when sticking to a heart-healthy diet or just want to enjoy a special meal. This simple chilled recipe uses frozen or fresh lobster tails and can be served as a starter or main course.

    Continue to 5 of 20 below.
  • 05 of 20

    Oven-Fried Chicken With Crispy Panko Coating

    Chicken with crispy panko coating

    The Spruce 

    Sometimes one just needs fried chicken. With this recipe, the texture and flavor are there but not the excess fat and oil. It's a heart-healthy take on the classic dish, utilizing the oven to cook the chicken instead of the fryer.

  • 06 of 20

    Bison Burger

    bison burger

     The Spruce / Diana Rattray

    The next time a burger craving hits, make one with bison instead of beef. Bison is still a red meat but it's much leaner than beef. It's best if eaten rare or medium-rare to prevent drying out. 

  • 07 of 20

    Southwest Black Bean and Corn Salad

    black bean salad

    kjohansen / Getty Images

    One great thing about this easy-to-make Southwestern salad is it can be eaten solo as a vegan entrée or spruced up with a grilled chicken breast or baked fish fillet. Not that the salad needs extra protein—the black beans provide plenty as is. 

  • 08 of 20

    Jamaican Jerk Chicken

    Authentic Jamaican Jerk Chicken

    The Spruce / Maxwell Cozzi

    Citrus juices really bring out the flavor in this island staple, and the subtle spice of jalapeño pepper pairs wonderfully with warming notes from the cinnamon and cumin. No oil is used at all, which helps keep this jerk chicken dish heart-healthy while also being delicious. 

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  • 09 of 20

    Grilled or Baked Salmon or Tuna Steaks

    Grilled salmon or tuna steak recipe

    The Spruce / Julia Hartbeck

    A simple marinade adds plenty of flavor to salmon or tuna fish, whether you're grilling or baking it. The mixture also serves as a flavorful basting sauce as the fish cooks.

  • 10 of 20

    Ostrich Steaks

    Ostrich Steak

    Dirk Albrecht / Getty Images

    While ostrich isn't a common protein, it's a tasty one that's dark, lean, and a good alternative to beef. Because the meat is leaner, it's important not to overcook it, and make sure to season it well.

  • 11 of 20

    Chinese Ginger-Soy Steamed Fish

    Ginger fish

    The Spruce / Diana Chistruga

    Steaming a hearty white fish like halibut or sea bass means the finished dish is heart-healthy but also substantial. This recipe was created by Chef Farina Kingsley who spices her fish with ginger, soy sauces, cilantro, garlic, and sesame oil to give the light dish a deep flavor. 

  • 12 of 20

    Tex Mex Chicken Drumsticks

    Salsa Chicken

    LauriPatterson / Getty Images

    Keep dinner simple, healthy, and tasty with this easy chicken drumstick recipe. It involves chicken, jarred salsa, fresh onion, and seasoning. The whole thing gets cooked in the juices of the salsa, so no extra fat is needed. 

    Continue to 13 of 20 below.
  • 13 of 20

    Grilled Dungeness Crab

    crab

    The Spruce / Armando Rafael

    Get fresh Dungeness crab in season or purchase them frozen—either way, this recipe will showcase the sweet meat and give it a boost of bright lime and heat as well. The dish looks pretty too, especially when the crab is plated whole. 

  • 14 of 20

    Moroccan Baked Fish Tagine

    fish tagine

    Michelle Garrett / Getty Images

    The fish in this tagine gets marinated in Moroccan chermoula, a special spice blend featuring garlic, cumin, ginger, cayenne, lemon juice, and saffron, and then baked for an hour. Use sea bass, red snapper, or orange roughy, since they hold up to the thick slices of potato, carrot, and peppers that get roasted along with the protein. 

  • 15 of 20

    Chicken and Red Bean Chili

    Chicken chili

    The Spruce / Diana Rattray

    Use chicken and red beans to give this one-pot dish a protein boost without extra saturated fat. Make it spicy by amping up the cayenne pepper or adding a splash of hot sauce to the bowl. Keep the chicken chili extra healthy by skipping the cheese and sour cream on top.

  • 16 of 20

    Ground Turkey Burritos With Refried Beans

    Ground turkey burrito

    The Spruce / Diana Mocanu

    For a heart-healthy, on-the-go meal, these burritos prove perfect. A tortilla is filled with ground turkey and refried beans, so there's a lot of protein. Leave out the cheese if you like, they're still delish.

    Continue to 17 of 20 below.
  • 17 of 20

    Low-Calorie Meatloaf With Vegetables

    meatloaf

    Brett Stevens / Getty Images

    What makes this meatloaf low calorie is also what makes it heart-healthy—it has lean ground beef in it as well as whole wheat breadcrumbs and chopped vegetables. This dish is a good way to enjoy beef in the meal rotation without breaking any diet rules.

  • 18 of 20

    Baked Whole Fish in Garlic-Chili Sauce

    baked whole fish

    The Spruce / Victoria Heydt

    Use a whole red snapper, gray mullet, rainbow trout, or tilapia for this recipe, and enjoy the simplicity of preparation along with the combination of sweet, tangy, and spicy nuances. This whole fish is a high-protein meal that can feed a family of four and is full of heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids. 

  • 19 of 20

    Classic Chicken Vindaloo Curry

    Classic Chicken Vindaloo Curry

    The Spruce / Chelsea Ross

    An advantage to eating spicy food is the heat will keep you from missing oils, cheeses, and other unnecessary fats. This vindaloo curry packs in plenty of chicken, ginger, garlic, and spices, which makes it taste great and while remaining healthy.

  • 20 of 20

    Quick and Easy Canned Tuna Fish Tacos

    tuna tacos

    The Spruce 

    Who says all heart-healthy food has to take lots of time and energy to make? This simple fish taco recipe utilizes already processed tuna straight from the can. Make a creamy sauce to go with the fish, onion, cilantro, and lime and enjoy a do-it-yourself taco bar.