Heart-Check Recipe Certification Program Nutrition Requirements

Updated:Dec 7,2016

The Heart-Check program’s nutrition requirements for certification are based on the sound science of the American Heart Association regarding healthy dietary recommendations including food categories, specific ingredients and nutrient values.

A recipe is “a specific set of ingredients and instructions for making or preparing a food dish that represents a unique formula and/or nutrient profile.” The Heart-Check program currently certifies recipes in several categories: Appetizers, Breads (muffins, quick breads, yeast breads), Desserts, Entrees (fish with omega-3 fatty acids, meat, poultry, salad, seafood, soup), Main Dish, Salads, Side Dishes, and Soups (small).

To be certified a recipe must meet specific category-based qualitative and nutrient requirements. A nutrient analysis of each recipe must be submitted for review, including: calories, sodium, saturated fat, added sugars, trans fat, and omega-3 fatty acids (for fish entrees).

Nutrition Requirements (per serving):

  Appetizers, Soups, Salads, Side Dishes, Muffins/Quick Breads and Yeast Breads
Qualitative
  • Appetizers: Preference for appetizers providing a serving of fruit, vegetables, whole grains, or legumes
  • Soups: Preference for smaller portions served as a first course or a side dish; 1 serving = approximately 1 cup
  • Smaller Salads: Intended to be served as a first course or a side dish or fruit salad
Calories ≤ 250 calories (inclusive of salad dressing)
Saturated Fat ≤ 2g if non-meat/fish/seafood
≤ 3g if contains meat/fish/seafood
Trans Fat <0.5 g trans fatty acid and no Partially Hydrogenated Oils (PHOs) or ingredient products that contain PHOs
Sodium ≤ 240 mg
Added Sugar ≤ 2 tsp
Some common household ingredients used in recipes that are considered added sugars include: brown sugar, corn syrup, fruit juice concentrate, honey, molasses, malt syrup, maple syrup, raw sugar, turbinado sugar and agave nectar. The primary function of the ingredient in the recipe will also be considered. Non-nutritive sweeteners are permissible.

  Main Dish, Entrée Salads, Entrée Soups
Qualitative
  • One-dish meals, mixed meals, combination dishes, casseroles, etc. served as a main course
  • A main dish typically includes a serving from at least two of the following food groups: 1.) meat, poultry, fish, dry beans, eggs, nuts 2.) fruits and vegetables 3.) milk, yogurt, cheese, and 4.) bread, cereal, rice, pasta. Examples include: beef stew, Greek salad with Shrimp or Chicken with Stir-fried Vegetables. Note: Small quantities of vegetables used for seasoning (e.g. onions, peppers, celery, etc.) do not count as a vegetable serving.
Calories ≤ 500 calories
Saturated Fat ≤ 3.5g
Trans Fat <0.5 g trans fatty acid and no Partially Hydrogenated Oils (PHOs) or ingredient products that contain PHOs
Sodium ≤ 600 mg
Added Sugar ≤ 2 tsp
Some common household ingredients used in recipes that are considered added sugars include: brown sugar, corn syrup, fruit juice concentrate, honey, molasses, malt syrup, maple syrup, raw sugar, turbinado sugar and agave nectar. The primary function of the ingredient in the recipe will also be considered. Non-nutritive sweeteners are permissible.

  Meat and Poultry Entrees & Seafood Entrees
Qualitative
  • Meat & Poultry Entrees: Chicken, turkey, beef, pork, game meats, etc. Examples include: Baked Chicken, Pork Medallions or Grilled Flank Steak
  • Seafood Entrees: Fish and Seafood other than those identified as being high in Omega-3 fatty acids. Examples include: Catfish, Cod, Crawfish, Flounder, Grouper, Halibut, Orange Roughy, Perch, Pollock, Scallops, Shrimp, Sole, Snapper and Tilapia
Calories ≤ 350 calories
Saturated Fat ≤ 3.0 g for beef, poultry, pork, etc.
≤ 4.0 g for fish or seafood
Trans Fat <0.5 g trans fatty acid and no Partially Hydrogenated Oils (PHOs) or ingredient products that contain PHOs
Sodium ≤ 360 mg
Added Sugar ≤ 2 tsp
Some common household ingredients used in recipes that are considered added sugars include: brown sugar, corn syrup, fruit juice concentrate, honey, molasses, malt syrup, maple syrup, raw sugar, turbinado sugar and agave nectar. The primary function of the ingredient in the recipe will also be considered. Non-nutritive sweeteners are permissible.

  Fish Entrees with 500mg of omega-3 fatty acids (EPA/DHA) per serving
Qualitative
  • Examples include: Bass (Striped Bass, Freshwater, Sea Bass), Herring, Mackerel, Oysters, Pompano, Salmon, Sardines, Swordfish, Trout, Tuna
Calories ≤ 350 calories
Saturated Fat ≤ 5 g
Trans Fat <0.5 g trans fatty acid and no Partially Hydrogenated Oils (PHOs) or ingredient products that contain PHOs
Sodium ≤ 360 mg
Added Sugar ≤ 2 tsp
Some common household ingredients used in recipes that are considered added sugars include: brown sugar, corn syrup, fruit juice concentrate, honey, molasses, malt syrup, maple syrup, raw sugar, turbinado sugar and agave nectar. The primary function of the ingredient in the recipe will also be considered. Non-nutritive sweeteners are permissible.

  Desserts
Qualitative
  • Preference is for fruit-based or low-fat/non-fat dairy-based desserts
  • Preference is for whole-grain flours and old-fashioned rolled or steel cut oats as ingredients
Calories ≤ 200 calories
Saturated Fat ≤ 2.0 g
Trans Fat <0.5 g trans fatty acid and no Partially Hydrogenated Oils (PHOs) or ingredient products that contain PHOs
Sodium ≤ 240 mg
Added Sugar ≤ 2 tsp
Some common household ingredients used in recipes that are considered added sugars include: brown sugar, corn syrup, fruit juice concentrate, honey, molasses, malt syrup, maple syrup, raw sugar, turbinado sugar and agave nectar. The primary function of the ingredient in the recipe will also be considered. Non-nutritive sweeteners are permissible.