- The DASH diet was formulated to reduce hypertension and improve heart health.
- Dietitian Danielle Smith specializes in the diet, which keeps refined sugar to a minimum.
- Here are four of her go-to healthy desserts for when you want a sweet treat on the DASH diet.
A registered dietitian who specializes in the DASH diet shared her favorite healthy desserts that she recommends to clients with Insider.
Danielle Smith, who works with dietitian network Top Nutrition Coaching, said that you don’t have to give up dessert on the Dietary Approaches to Stopping Hypertension diet — which is low in salt, saturated fats, processed food, and alcohol with the aim of reducing high blood pressure — but you can make healthier choices.
The American Heart Association put DASH at the top of its list of healthy diets earlier this year, above the Mediterranean diet which is widely considered the healthiest way to eat. It can also be followed as a generally healthy diet, because it encourages the consumption of healthy whole foods, such as fruit and vegetables, skinless fish and poultry, low-fat dairy, legumes, and whole grains.
Here are some healthy dessert options from Smith.
Deep dish cookie pie
This cookie pie recipe uses white beans or chickpeas as a secret, healthy ingredient. Combine all the ingredients and blend together until it’s completely smooth, then add chocolate chips, and bake.
The beans or chickpeas boost the protein and fiber content of this dessert, said Smith, and using dark chocolate chips will provide antioxidants.
However, make sure to drain your canned foods, because they tend to have a lot of salt on them, she said.
This recipe is also free from refined sugar because it uses natural sweeteners, which helps you stick to the recommended three to five tablespoons of sugar per week for the DASH diet, according to the Mayo Clinic.
Dark chocolate covered frozen bananas
“Dark chocolate covered frozen bananas are a great way to satisfy a sweet tooth while also reaping some nutrition benefits,” Smith said.
For this recipe, all you have to do is dip bananas into dark chocolate, and freeze. This means you can keep a batch ready to eat straight out of the freezer whenever you like.
Bananas are rich in potassium, which helps to maintain a healthier sodium-potassium balance in the body, she said. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, most Americans eat too much sodium and not enough potassium. Those with high blood pressure can decrease their sodium levels by eating more potassium.
Plus, dark chocolate provides antioxidants, and contains flavonoids, which are associated with lowering blood pressure in those with hypertension.
Berries and whipped cream
Berries and whipped cream (or whipped dairy-free topping, if you prefer) is a really quick and simple sweet treat.
Smith said: “Simply top one cup of berries of choice with whipped topping of choice and enjoy!”
It’s naturally sweet, contains fiber from the berries, as well as specific benefits from the berries you pick. Strawberries, for example, contain lots of vitamin C, and blueberries contain vitamin K and lots of antioxidants.
This vegan, gluten free cherry crumble recipe is really easy to make, by putting a mix of oats and flour on top of cherries and baking in the oven.
The crumble can be paired with whipped cream to help you get in the two to three daily dairy portions recommended for the DASH diet.
“Tart cherries are shown to be more beneficial for blood pressure regulation, but all cherries provide antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals, so choose whichever you prefer,” said Smith.
The oats in the crumble topping are also a great source of fiber. Smith said that the soluble fiber in oats can help to decrease the risk of developing heart disease, and also helps you feel fuller for longer.