Recipe: A tasty meal for a heart-healthy summer

As you plan your summer fun, think also about adopting healthy habits that can help keep your blood pressure under control. When your blood pressure is consistently high – a condition called hypertension – blood flows through arteries at higher-than-normal pressures. This can cause serious health problems not just for your heart, but also for your blood vessels, kidneys, eyes and brain.

Hypertension affects women and men of all ages but making small lifestyle changes can go a long way toward prevention. Start with updating your summer menu with delicious, heart-healthy recipes, like Hawaiian Huli Huli Chicken.

Following a heart-healthy eating plan, such as the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH), which emphasizes vegetables, fruits, whole grains, fish, poultry, beans, nuts, low-fat dairy and healthy oils, can help keep your blood pressure in a healthy range. Developed through research by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI), DASH focuses on reducing sodium and limiting foods that are high in saturated fat, including fatty meats, full-fat dairy and tropical oils.

Along with adding healthy recipes to your summer menu, NHLBI’s The Heart Truth program encourages these healthy habits that can help you control blood pressure:

Move more: Aim for at least 150 minutes (2 1/2 hours) of physical activity each week. Try keeping yourself on pace each week by shooting for 30 daily minutes of activity over five days.

Aim for a healthy weight: Research shows adults with overweight and obesity can lower their blood pressure by losing just 3-5% of their weight. Ask a friend or family member to join a weight loss program with you; social support can help you both stay motivated.

Manage stress: Reduce stress – which can increase blood pressure – with meditation, relaxing activities or support from a counselor or online group.

Quit smoking: Smoking damages your heart and blood vessels. Call 1-800-QUIT-NOW or find other resources available online.

Get your summer off to a heart-healthy start by talking to your health care provider about your blood pressure numbers and what they mean. To learn more about heart health and blood pressure, visit and find DASH-friendly recipes at

Hawaiian Huli Huli Chicken
Recipe courtesy of the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute
Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 30 minutes
Servings: 4

Hawaiian huli huli chicken (photo courtesy of Family Features)

2 tablespoons ketchup
2 tablespoons light soy sauce
2 tablespoons honey
2 teaspoons orange juice
1 teaspoon garlic (about 1 clove), minced
1 teaspoon ginger, minced
12 ounces boneless, skinless chicken breast (about 2 large breasts), cut into 1-inch cubes (about 24 cubes)
1 cup fresh pineapple, diced (about 24 pieces)
8 wooden skewers (6 inches each), soaked in water

To make sauce: Combine ketchup, soy sauce, honey, orange juice, garlic and ginger; mix well. Separate into two bowls and set aside.

Preheat grill to medium-high heat. Preheat oven to 350 F.

Alternately thread three chicken cubes and three pineapple chunks on each skewer.

Grill skewers 3-5 minutes on each side. Brush or spoon sauce from one bowl onto chicken and pineapple every other minute. Discard remaining sauce from first bowl.

To prevent chicken from drying out, finish cooking to minimum internal temperature of 165 F in oven. Using clean brush or spoon, coat with sauce from remaining bowl before serving.

Grilled Sweetpotato and Blueberry Salad
Recipe courtesy of the North Carolina Sweetpotato Commission and
Andrea Mathis (
Servings: 4

Grilled sweetpotato and blueberry salad (photo courtesy of Family Features)

Lemon Honey Vinaigrette:
6 tablespoons olive oil
1/4 cup lemon juice
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
2 1/2 tablespoons honey
salt, to taste
pepper, to taste
3 medium sweetpotatoes, peeled and sliced
2 tablespoons olive oil
salt, to taste
pepper, to taste
4 cups spring salad mix
1 cup fresh blueberries
1/3 cup chopped walnuts
1/4 cup blue cheese crumbles
lemon wedges, for garnish (optional)

To make lemon honey vinaigrette: In bowl, mix olive oil, lemon juice, Dijon mustard and honey. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Preheat grill to medium heat. Drizzle sweetpotatoes with olive oil and season with salt and pepper, to taste. Grill sliced sweetpotatoes on each side about 5 minutes, or until sweetpotatoes are tender and slightly charred. Remove from grill and let cool.

To arrange salad, spread spring salad mix onto large platter and top with grilled sweetpotatoes, blueberries, walnuts and blue cheese crumbles.

Top with lemon honey vinaigrette and garnish with lemon wedges, if desired.