Most American adults don't eat a diet that would make our doctors happy. But if you have high blood pressure, you need to pay special attention to what you put into your body. Along with taking any prescribed medication and staying active, eating the right foods is one of the best ways to control your high blood pressure.
The most common heart-healthy diet is the D.A.S.H (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) program. It doesn't involve complicated, exotic foods or bland preparation methods. Instead, you eat more fruits, vegetables and whole grains and cut down on red meat, sodium and full-fat dairy products.
A typical D.A.S.H. breakfast consists of high-fiber cereal with skim milk, fresh fruit and a small cup of orange or grapefruit juice. If you're feeling a bit more adventurous in the morning, try making a parfait by layering fat-free vanilla yogurt, low-fat granola and fresh strawberries, blueberries and raspberries in a champagne flute or parfait cup. It tastes decadent but is very healthy.
If you're like most people, lunch is a quick affair, like a sandwich wolfed down at your desk while you're trying to catch up on work. However, you can make even a quick sandwich into a healthy meal by serving it on whole-grain bread with a handful of spinach leaves. Instead of chips on the side, have some baby carrots and cucumber slices. This delicious tuna salad is perfect for filling you up without making your blood pressure rise. Tuna is an excellent source of protein and omega-3 fatty acids, which may help prevent heart disease.
1 5-oz. can albacore tuna, packed in water
2 tablespoons fresh celery, diced very fine
1 tablespoon diced red onion
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
3 tablespoons Miracle Whip
Dash of ground black pepper, to taste
Instructions: Mix all ingredients together in a small bowl. Serve on whole-grain bread or crackers or over a bed of lettuce and baby greens.
A D.A.S.H dinner doesn't have to be complicated or extravagant. Whole-wheat spaghetti with low-sodium marinara sauce and grilled chicken breast makes a filling, inexpensive, healthy dinner. If you're in the mood for something a little more elaborate, try this recipe for honey-orange glazed chicken. Serve it over brown rice for a healthy and hearty meal.
1 navel orange
2 tablespoons whole-wheat flour
1/2 teaspoon salt, divided
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 cup reduced-sodium chicken broth
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 cup white wine
2 tablespoons honey
1 3-inch cinnamon stick
1/2 cup slivered almonds, toasted
1. Zest and juice one orange.
2. Combine flour, 1/4 teaspoon salt and pepper in a shallow dish. Coat each piece of chicken in the flour, shaking off any excess.
3. Transfer the remaining flour to a small bowl, add broth and whisk the mixture until smooth.
4. Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add the chicken and cook until browned, 3 to 4 minutes per side. Transfer to a plate. Add wine to the pan and cook for 1 minute. Add the flour-broth mixture, orange juice and zest, honey, cinnamon stick and the remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt; bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer, return the chicken and any accumulated juices to the pan and cook, turning the chicken once or twice, until a meat thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the meat registers 165°F and the sauce has thickened (about 10 to 12 minutes).
4. Transfer the chicken to a serving platter. Discard the cinnamon stick. Spoon the sauce over the chicken and garnish with almonds.
This sautéed kale is packed full of vitamins and an unforgettable flavor.
3 pounds stemmed, washed and dried kale
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 red onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1/2 teaspoon salt substitute (such as Mrs. Dash)
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
Instructions: Heat olive oil in a large skillet or wok over medium-high heat. Add diced onions and cook until they are just beginning to soften. Reduce heat to medium, add the garlic and cook for an additional 1 to 2 minutes. Add kale and cook until it is tender, stirring often to avoid burning the onion and garlic. Remove from heat and toss with balsamic vinegar, salt substitute and pepper. Serve warm; toss in some toasted pine nuts if desired.