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DASH Your Way to Heart Health

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By St. Louis District Dairy Council
Posted in Blog, and Recipes on February 8th, 2018

With a new year underway, many made the pledge to be healthier in 2018.  A month into these new goals, some may have discovered that restrictive diets have lost their allure, and are starting to fall back into old habits.  In honor of American Heart Month, try a different approach to healthy eating, specifically Dietary Approaches to Stopping Hypertension, or DASH.

Unlike many diets that leave followers feeling deprived, DASH is based on a flexible eating pattern. A DASH-style eating plan focuses on nutritious foods like low fat dairy, nuts and legumes, whole grains, fruits, and vegetables. The foods recommended by the DASH eating plan are rich in calcium, potassium, magnesium, and fiber, while low in sodium, saturated fat and trans fats.

The heart healthy foods encouraged by the DASH plan are delicious, convenient and affordable. They can easily be found at a local grocery store. In addition, there is no need for expensive supplements or specialty items.  The DASH plan calls for real foods such as low fat milk and yogurt, oatmeal, black beans, zucchini, and apples. DASH eaters can choose familiar favorites or try something new with this balanced approach that includes foods from all food groups.

Unlike many diets, the DASH eating plan is supported by science and recognized by numerous organizations for its heart health benefits, including National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute. Additionally, 2018 marks the eighth consecutive year that DASH has been named “Best Overall Diet” by US News and World Report. It is important to embrace an eating style that research has repeatedly shown to be beneficial. The DASH diet earns high marks all around.

Many diets make big promises and often come up short on results. These restrictive plans can leave consumers feeling hungry and deprived. This year, take your heart health into your own hands with the flexible DASH eating plan. Making simple food choices, boosting heart health and improving overall health is worth a try!

RECIPES

Mini Turkey Quesadillas (Serves 2)

Ingredients:

  • 1 avocado, thinly sliced
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 2 whole wheat tortillas
  • 2 slices Swiss cheese
  • 4-8 extra-thin slices deli turkey
  • 2 Roma tomatoes, thinly sliced lengthwise
  • 2 ounces alfalfa sprouts
  • Freshly ground pepper

Instructions:

  1. Put avocado in small bowl and toss with lemon juice to keep it from turning brown. Set out all other ingredients on a platter for easy quesadilla assembly.
  2. Heat a nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add first tortilla and brown one side, about 30 seconds.  Flip it over and place a slice of cheese on half of the tortilla.  When cheese begins to melt, transfer the tortilla to a plate.
  3. Layer half of the turkey, tomatoes, sprouts, and avocado on top of the cheese.  Season with pepper.  Fold the tortilla over the filling ingredients and secure with toothpicks. Cut into 2-4 wedges. 
  4. Repeat with second tortilla.  Serve warm

Nutrition Facts: 495 calories, 30 g protein, 292 mg sodium, 23% daily value calcium.  Recipe adapted from DASH Diet for Beginners

Vanilla Lemon Berry Parfaits  (Serves 2)

Ingredients:

  • 2 ½ cups nonfat vanilla yogurt
  • 1 (3.4 ounce) box fat-free vanilla instant pudding
  • 3 tablespoons lemon curd
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • Zest and juice of 1 lemon
  • 4 cups fresh mixed berries
  • Mint leaves to garnish

Instructions:

  1. Combine yogurt, instant pudding, lemon curd, and vanilla.  Mix well.
  2. Whisk together the honey, lemon zest, and lemon juice in a large bowl.  Add the berries and stir gently with spatula until well coated.
  3. Spoon a 2-inch layer of the yogurt mixture into the bottom of a glass.  Cover with a 2-inch layer of berries.  Continue layering the yogurt and berries until the glass is full.  Repeat in remaining glass.  Refrigerate at least 1 hour, garnish with mint leaves before serving.

Nutrition Facts: 270 calories, 8 grams protein, 213 mg sodium, 21% daily value calcium.   Recipe adapted from DASH Diet for Beginners