- The DASH diet has been named the best diet for heart health by experts.
- Dietitian Danielle Smith specializes in the diet, which is low in salt.
- She shared four of her favorite DASH diet dinner recipes.
A dietitian specializing in the DASH diet, which is thought to be better than the Mediterranean diet for heart health, has shared her favorite dinner recipes.
The DASH diet, which stands for Dietary Approaches to Stopping Hypertension, was originally designed to help people with hypertension, because it focuses on reducing blood pressure levels by keeping levels of salt, saturated fats, and added sugar as low as possible. It also limits red meat and alcohol, but includes lots of fruit, vegetables, legumes, and whole grains, as well as low-fat dairy, nuts, and skinless poultry and fish.
The American Heart Association ranked the DASH diet above the Mediterranean diet in its list of best diets for heart health earlier this year. This is because the DASH diet is lower in alcohol and salt, whereas the Mediterranean diet includes alcohol in moderation, which isn’t as beneficial for the heart.
Danielle Smith, a registered dietitian working with dietitian network Top Nutrition Coaching, shared her favorite dinner recipes to eat on the DASH diet. Smith said she chose these recipes because they all include foods with nutritional benefits for cardiovascular function.
Baked salmon and asparagus
For this recipe, simply bake salmon and asparagus with lemon and fresh herbs. To make this into a full, balanced meal, Smith recommends adding a complex carbohydrate such as quinoa or farro.
One 2007 study showed that regularly eating salmon was linked to decreased blood pressure and a potential lower risk of coronary heart disease in healthy subjects, and it contains lots of omega-3, which is associated with decreased inflammation, which can help to lower blood pressure.
Slow cooked chicken tacos
This recipe is really easy to make if you have a slow cooker, because you can put the seasoned chicken on to cook in the morning. To assemble in the evening, put the chicken onto corn tortillas and add a homemade shredded cabbage slaw, avocado, and a squeeze of lime.
Smith said this recipe is great paired with vegetables to make it more DASH appropriate, and recommended a salad or grilled vegetables.
The National Council on Aging recommends eating cabbage to help lower blood pressure, because it contains nitrates which have been associated with improving hypertension.
This turkey chili recipe is really hearty and is a great option for meal prepping.
Smith said that the beans in this chili are an excellent source of fiber, which will keep you fuller for longer, and turkey is a great lean-protein option.
An easy way to lower the sodium content of this recipe is to rinse the beans after you remove them from the can, and Smith recommends checking the nutrition labels on canned tomatoes so you can avoid brands that add salt.
Sheet pan honey mustard chicken
With all the components of a balanced, DASH-approved meal, this recipe is easy to prep and clean up as it only uses one sheet pan. Season your chicken, potatoes, onions, carrots, and Brussels sprouts with honey, mustard, and curry powder, put them on a sheet pan in an even layer, and bake for 30 minutes.
Smith said that if this becomes a regular part of your meal rotation, you can swap out the vegetables and proteins you use depending on what’s in season, including sweet potatoes instead of potatoes.
Smith said: “A high sodium intake can contribute to high blood pressure. Both white and sweet potatoes contain potassium which helps counter the effects of sodium.”
This is because potassium relaxes the walls of the blood vessels, which can help lower blood pressure.