Prioritize Heart Health with a Balanced Eating Plan

By Family Features | Contributor

No matter your motivations, it’s never too late or too early to start focusing on your heart health, and taking steps now can make a big difference. Small changes, like following a healthier eating plan, can help you start down a path toward improved heart health.

One step you can take is following the DASH eating plan, which is a flexible and balanced way of eating that stands for Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension and was developed by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. Requiring no special foods, DASH provides daily and weekly nutritional goals to help lower two major risk factors for heart disease: high blood pressure and high LDL (bad) cholesterol.

Being more physically active, managing stress, getting quality sleep and not smoking combined with DASH can put you on a path toward a healthy heart for life.

Encouraging others to join you on your heart-health journey can also be rewarding. Research shows social support and personal networks make it more likely you’ll stick to healthy habits like eating healthy.

Sharing heart-healthy recipes with family and friends is an added bonus, and these DASH-friendly meals can help you take the guesswork out of putting nutritious dinners on the table. Greek-Style Flank Steaks with Tangy Yogurt Sauce offer the bold flavors of the Mediterranean while Teriyaki-Glazed Salmon with Stir-Fried Vegetables is as easy to make as it is colorful. For a complementary combination of pork and sweet fruit flavor, these Baked Pork Chops with Apple Cranberry Sauce are perfect to serve alongside brown rice or steamed broccoli.

Learn more about heart health and find DASH-friendly recipes at nhlbi.nih.gov/DASH.

Greek-Style Flank Steak with Tangy Yogurt Sauce

Recipe courtesy of the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute

Prep time: 25 minutes

Cook time: 25 minutes

Servings: 4


1/4       cup lemon juice

1          tablespoon olive oil

2          teaspoons fresh oregano, rinsed, dried and chopped

1          tablespoon garlic, minced (2-3 cloves)

1          beef flank steak (12 ounces)

Yogurt Sauce:

1          cup cucumber, peeled, seeded and chopped

1          cup nonfat plain yogurt

2          tablespoons lemon juice

1          tablespoon fresh dill, rinsed, dried and chopped

1          tablespoon garlic, minced (2-3 cloves)

1/2       teaspoon salt

To make marinade: In large bowl, combine lemon juice, olive oil, oregano and garlic.

Lay steak in flat container with sides and pour marinade over steak. Marinate at least 20 minutes, or up to 24 hours, turning several times.

To make yogurt sauce: Combine cucumber, yogurt, lemon juice, dill, garlic and salt. Set yogurt sauce aside at least 15 minutes to blend flavors. Sauce can be prepared up to 1 hour in advance and refrigerated.

Preheat broiler to high with rack 3 inches from heat source.

Broil steak about 10 minutes on each side to minimum internal temperature of 145 F. Let cool 5 minutes before carving.

Slice thinly across grain into 12 slices.

Serve three slices with 1/2 cup yogurt sauce.

Tip:Serve in sandwich with pita bread, lettuce and tomato.

Teriyaki-Glazed Salmon with Stir-Fried Vegetables

Recipe courtesy of the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute

Prep time: 20 minutes

Cook time: 15 minutes

Servings: 4


2          tablespoons light teriyaki sauce

1/4       cup mirin or sweet rice wine

2          tablespoons rice vinegar

2          tablespoons scallions, rinsed and minced

1 1/2    tablespoons ginger, minced

12        ounces salmon fillets, cut into four portions (3 ounces each)


1          bag (12 ounces) frozen vegetables stir-fry

1/2       tablespoon peanut oil or vegetable oil

1/2       tablespoon garlic, minced (about 1 clove)

1          tablespoon ginger, minced

1          tablespoon scallions, rinsed and minced

1          tablespoon light soy sauce

Preheat oven to 350 F.

To prepare salmon: Mix teriyaki sauce, mirin, rice vinegar, scallions and ginger well. Pour over salmon and marinate 10-15 minutes.

Remove salmon from marinade.

Place salmon on baking sheet. Bake 10-15 minutes, or until fish flakes easily with fork in thickest part and reaches minimum internal temperature of 145 F.

To prepare vegetables: Thaw frozen vegetables in microwave or place bag in bowl of hot water about 10 minutes. In large wok or saute pan, heat oil. Add garlic, ginger and scallions; cook gently, but do not brown, 30-60 seconds.

Add vegetables and continue stir-frying 2–3 minutes, or until heated through. Add soy sauce.

Serve one piece of salmon with 1 cup vegetables.

Baked Pork Chops with Apple Cranberry Sauce

Recipe courtesy of the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute

Prep time: 10 minutes

Cook time: 30 minutes

Servings: 4

Pork Chops:

4          boneless pork chops (about 3 ounces each)

1/4       teaspoon ground black pepper

1          medium orange, rinsed and zested

1/2       tablespoon olive oil


1/4       cup low-sodium chicken broth

1          medium apple, peeled and grated (about 1 cup)

1/2       cinnamon stick

1          bay leaf

1/2       cup dried cranberries

1/2       cup 100% orange juice

Preheat oven to 350 F.

To prepare pork chops: Season pork chops with pepper and orange zest.

In large saute pan, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add pork chops and cook until browned on one side, about 2 minutes. Turn and brown 2 minutes. Remove pork chops from pan, place on nonstick baking sheet and bake 10 minutes to minimum internal temperature of 160 F.

To make sauce: Add chicken broth to saute pan and stir to loosen brown bits from pork chops. Set aside.

In small saucepan over medium heat, cook grated apples, cinnamon stick and bay leaf until apples begin to soften.

Add cranberries, orange juice and reserved broth. Bring to boil then lower heat to gentle simmer. Simmer 10 minutes, or until cranberries are plump and apples are tender. Remove cinnamon stick.

Peel orange and cut into eight sections.

Serve one pork chop with 1/4 cup sauce and two orange segments.

Photos courtesy of Getty Images

Related posts

5 Basic Steps for Sizzling Steak


Smoky Chorizo and Chicken Pozole Recipe


Fresh Summer Recipes Perfect for the Patio


Subscribe now and join the family!

Subscribe to the Good Life Family e-newsletters and automatically receive updates on new Good Life Family issues, articles, events, deals and coupons.

  • Stay up to date on the latest issues and articles
  • Get access to special deals and coupons
  • Automatically be entered in contests and giveaways
Close this popup