The connection between diet and heart health has been demonstrated in countless research studies, including the well-known China Study and the Framingham Heart Study.  A heart-healthy diet is the best way to prevent or reverse heart disease, including high blood pressure.

In the 1990s, research by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) resulted in “Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension,” or DASH diet. The DASH guidelines prioritize fruits and vegetables, whole grains, low-fat dairy, and lean protein such as fish or poultry. The diet discourages processed foods, sugary beverages, and salt.

Studies have shown the DASH diet can lower blood pressure for people with hypertension and reduce the risk of heart attacks. Here are a few heart-healthy recipes from the NHLBI:

Chicken Picadillo

  • Heat 2 teaspoons of olive oil in a sauté pan. Had one finely chopped onion, red bell pepper, green bell pepper, and three cloves of garlic. Cook until soft.
  • Add 12 ounces of boneless, skinless chicken, cut into thin strips, and cook 5-10 minutes.
  • Add 1/3 cup tomato sauce, 1/3 cup low-sodium chicken broth, and 1/3 cup lemon juice. Season with ¼ teaspoon ground cumin and 2 bay leaves and ¼ cup raisins. Simmer for 10 minutes.
  • Serve over brown rice and garnish with cilantro, capers, or green olives.

Fruit Smoothie

    • In a blender, place 1 cup of non-fat yogurt, 6 strawberries, 1 cup crushed pineapple, 1 banana, 1 teaspoon vanilla extract, and 4 ice cubes.
    • Blend until smooth.
    • Serve with a garnish of fruit or berries.

Honey Glazed Salmon

  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  • Prepare brown rice according to instructions on the package.
  • Create a sauce from 1 cup fat-free sour cream, 2 teaspoons dried dill, 3 tablespoons chopped scallions, 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard, and 2 tablespoons lemon juice.
  • Place pieces of salmon on a baking sheet coated with cooking spray. Salt and pepper to taste then spread with the mixed sauce.
  • Bake in oven until fillets are opaque in the center and flake easily, about 20 minutes.
  • Serve with rice or pasta.

Salmon Salad

  • Bake 1 fillet of fresh salmon until it flakes easily in the thickest part. Flake the salmon and let cool in refrigerator.
  • Mix 1/3 cup chopped green onions, 1/3 cup chopped celery, 1/3 cup nonfat plain yogurt, and 1 tablespoon lemon juice.
  • Mix the salmon into the other ingredients. Serve as a side dish or as a spread on bread or unsalted crackers.