Cut your salt and fat intake, eat more fruits, vegetables and whole grains and you have the recipe to decrease high blood pressure.

These were the findings of a research project commissioned by the U.S. National Institute of Health in 1992. The project is dubbed DASH, which stands for Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension.

The approach to dining based on rigorous scientific studies found that nutrient-rich whole foods could lower blood pressure as effectively as most prescription medicines.

Canadian publisher James Lorimer took notice of the studies and approached food scientist and author Sandra Nowlan of Halifax to research DASH with the idea of writing a cookbook.

The result is Delicious DASH Flavours: The Proven Drug-Free, Doctor-Recommended Approach to Reducing High Blood Pressure (Formac Publishing).

More than 100 recipes, many gleaned from restaurant chefs across Canada, are “exceptional and so healthy you can eat guilt-free, even if you don’t suffer hypertension,” says Nowlan.

Her father had “terrible high blood pressure for years and he took medication for it,” so she was interested in the project from a personal standpoint.

What stands out, Nowlan says, is that lowering salt and fat content in recipes doesn’t mean a lack of flavour.

“Obviously the recipes had to meet the restrictions of the diet. To my mind flavour is most important. If it doesn’t have flavour I have no patience with such food.”

Nowlan adds that she was an ideal candidate to test the recipes she chose because she is “sensitive to salt and so I always cut back on salt and fat as much as I can.”

To compensate for less salt and fat, she added herbs, garlic, lime or lemon juice, salt-free lemon pepper, a dash of low-sodium soy sauce or tangy garnishes like capers.