Follow this plan for a week of beginner heart-healthy recipes to lower your blood pressure and improve your health

Emily Lachtrupp, M.S., R.D., C.D.
August 18, 2020
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In this 7-day high-blood pressure diet plan for beginners, we map out a week of delicious recipes tailored for beginners. We keep things super simple by repeating several breakfasts and lunches, plus kept dinner easy by choosing recipes with short ingredient lists and simple steps (think one-pot recipes!). The goal is to enjoy cooking more meals at home and reap the health benefits without feeling like you're spending too much time in the kitchen.

What Causes High-Blood Pressure?

It's difficult to say what causes high-blood pressure outright, likely there's a few factors at play. Genetics and family history, sedentary lifestyle and a diet that's particularly high in sodium and processed foods and low in fruits and vegetables, can all play a role in raising blood pressure.

How to Lower High-Blood Pressure

While we can't control our genetics, we can increase our exercise and change up our diets to support a healthy heart. Aim for a brisk walk, or any other form of cardio exercise, for at least 30 minutes most days of the week to help improve your heart health and lower your blood pressure.

Nutrition-wise, lowering your sodium intake, namely by reducing processed foods like frozen dinners and fast foods, can help lower blood pressure. Plus, increasing intake of foods rich in potassium, like most fruits and vegetables, salmon, beans and dairy, can also help lower your blood pressure.

If you're overweight, losing weight can positively improve blood pressure, so we set this plan at 1,500 calories, which is a level where most people will lose weight. We also included modifications for 1,200 or 2,000 calories a day, depending on your needs.

How to Shop for Foods to Lower High-Blood Pressure:

When you're shopping for foods to lower your blood pressure, there's a few key steps that can make a difference. While you may have heard the common advice to shop the perimeter of the store, it's important to know that there are many healthy foods for high-blood pressure located in the inner aisles. Low-sodium canned beans, dried beans and whole grains like quinoa and brown rice are all in the inner aisles. Plus, you'll find frozen fruits and vegetables, which are just as healthy as fresh and a great option to include on your shopping list.

When buying canned foods, like beans or tomatoes, look for phrases like no-salt-added, unsalted or low-sodium. As a general rule, look at the nutrition label and try to limit foods that contain more than 20% Daily Value of sodium per serving. As much as possible, try to skip processed meats (like hot dogs or sausage), as well as frozen meals like frozen pizza or T.V. dinners. And be sure to double check the nutrition label on marinades and sauces, as these can be a sneaky high source of sodium.

The bottom-line—the best way to reduce your salt intake is to cook more meals at home. If you find reading the labels overwhelming, start by preparing more homemade meals and try to increase your fruit and vegetable intake. These two steps can make a huge difference.

Healthy Foods for High Blood Pressure:

Aim for foods rich in potassium, magnesium and calcium to lower your blood pressure

  • Banana
  • Oranges
  • Apricots
  • Melon, like cantaloupe, honeydew and watermelon
  • Dark leafy greens, like spinach and kale
  • Potatoes
  • Sweet Potatoes
  • Winter Squash, like acorn or butternut
  • Beets
  • Beans and legumes
  • Yogurt
  • Kefir
  • Salmon
  • Almonds, walnuts and other nuts and seeds

How to Meal-Prep Your Week of Meals:

  1. Prepare Vegan Superfood Buddha Bowls to have for lunch on Days 2 through 5.

Day 1

Breakfast (309 calories)

A.M. Snack (131 calories)

  • 1 large pear

Lunch (455 calories)

P.M. Snack (62 calories)

  • 1 medium orange

Dinner (522 calories)

Daily Totals: 1,479 calories, 55 g protein, 166 g carbohydrates, 39 g fiber, 75 g fat, 14 g saturated fat, 3,525 mg potassium, 875 mg sodium

To Make it 1,200 Calories: Omit the walnuts at breakfast and change the P.M. snack to 1/4 cup sliced cucumbers.

To Make it 2,000 Calories: Increase to 4 Tbsp. chopped walnuts at breakfast plus add 1/3 cup dry-roasted unsalted almonds to A.M. snack and 1/3 cup dried walnut halves to P.M. snack.

Day 2

Breakfast (309 calories)

A.M. Snack (148 calories)

  • 1 cup non-fat plain Greek yogurt
  • 1/4 cup blackberries

Lunch (381 calories)

P.M. Snack (186 calories)

  • 10 dry-roasted unsalted almonds
  • 2 cups cantaloupe, cubed

Dinner (485 calories)

Daily Totals: 1,509 calories, 85 g protein, 144 g carbohydrates, 36 g fiber, 74 g fat, 10 g saturated fat, 3,569 mg potassium, 1,186 mg sodium

To Make it 1,200 Calories: Omit the walnuts at breakfast and the almonds at the P.M. snack plus reduce to 1/2 cup yogurt at the A.M. snack.

To Make it 2,000 Calories: Increase to 2 servings Old-Fashioned Oatmeal at breakfast, add 1 slice wheat toast with 1 Tbsp. almond butter to A.M. snack and increase to 1/3 cup dry-roasted unsalted almonds at P.M. snack.

Day 3

Breakfast (278 calories)

  • 1 cup non-fat plain Greek yogurt
  • 1/3 cup blueberries
  • 3 Tbsp. slivered almonds

A.M. Snack (72 calories)

  • 1 1/3 cup cantaloupe, cubed

Lunch (381 calories)

P.M. Snack (321 calories)

  • 1 medium banana
  • 1/3 cup dried walnut halves

Dinner (440 calories)

Daily Totals: 1,492 calories, 76 g protein, 153 g carbohydrates, 31 g fiber, 73 g fat, 9 g saturated fat, 3,553 mg potassium, 1,175 mg sodium

To Make it 1,200 Calories: Reduce to 1 Tbsp. slivered almonds at breakfast and omit the walnuts at the P.M. snack.

To Make it 2,000 Calories: Add 1 whole-wheat English muffin with 1 1/2 Tbsp. almond butter to breakfast and 1 serving Guacamole Chopped Salad to dinner.

Day 4

Breakfast (278 calories)

  • 1 cup non-fat plain Greek yogurt
  • 1/3 cup blueberries
  • 3 Tbsp. slivered almonds

A.M. Snack (318 calories)

  • 1 large banana
  • 2 Tbsp. almond butter

Lunch (381 calories)

P.M. Snack (84 calories)

  • 10 dried apricot halves

Dinner (429 calories)

Meal-Prep Tip: To prepare for dinner tomorrow, soak 1 pound dried cannellini beans in water overnight and gather all ingredients so you're able to start the slow-cooker on low for 7-8 hours in the morning so the Slow-Cooker Chicken & White Bean Stew is ready in time for dinner.

Daily Totals: 1,490 calories, 83 g protein, 149 g carbohydrates, 35 g fiber, 71 g fat, 11 g saturated fat, 3,520 mg potassium, 754 mg sodium

To Make it 1,200 Calories: Reduce to 1 Tbsp. slivered almonds at breakfast and omit the almond butter at the A.M. snack.

To Make it 2,000 Calories: Add 1 medium orange to lunch, 1/3 cup dry-roasted unsalted almonds P.M. snack and 1 serving Everything Bagel Avocado Toast to dinner.

Day 5

Breakfast (309 calories)

A.M. Snack (318 calories)

  • 1 large banana
  • 2 Tbsp. almond butter

Lunch (381 calories)

P.M. Snack (8 calories)

  • 1/2 cup sliced cucumber

Dinner (493 calories)

Meal-Prep Tip: Reserve 2 servings Slow-Cooker Chicken & White Bean Stew to have for lunch on Days 6 & 7.

Daily Totals: 1,509 calories, 78 g protein, 170 g carbohydrates, 55 g fiber, 65 g fat, 10 g saturated fat, 3,721 mg potassium, 935 mg sodium

To Make it 1,200 Calories: Reduce to 1 Tbsp. chopped walnuts at breakfast and omit the almonds at the A.M. snack.

To Make it 2,000 Calories: Increase to 4 Tbsp. chopped walnuts at breakfast, increase to 3 Tbsp. almond butter at A.M. snack, increase to 1 cup sliced cucumber and add 1/4 cup hummus to P.M. snack plus add 1 serving Guacamole Chopped Salad to dinner.

Day 6

Breakfast (278 calories)

  • 1 cup non-fat plain Greek yogurt
  • 1/3 cup blueberries
  • 3 Tbsp. slivered almonds

A.M. Snack (90 calories)

  • 1 2/3 cup cantaloupe, cubed

Lunch (493 calories)

P.M. Snack (116 calories)

  • 1 large apple

Dinner (536 calories)

Daily Totals: 1,513 calories, 108 g protein, 158 g carbohydrates, 44 g fiber, 54 g fat, 12 g saturated fat, 3,550 mg potassium, 1,029 mg sodium

To Make it 1,200 Calories: Omit the almonds at breakfast, reduce the cantaloupe to 3/4 cup at A.M. snack and omit the mixed greens with Citrus Vinaigrette at dinner.

To Make it 2,000 Calories: Add 1/3 cup dry-roasted unsalted almonds to A.M. snack and add 2 Tbsp. almond butter to P.M. snack.

Day 7

Breakfast (309 calories)

A.M. Snack (131 calories)

  • 1 large pear

Lunch (493 calories)

P.M. Snack (121 calories)

  • 1 large banana

Dinner (429 calories)

Daily Totals: 1,484 calories, 86 g protein, 189 g carbohydrates, 53 g fiber, 51 g fat, 9 g saturated fat, 3,507 mg potassium, 1,247 mg sodium

To Make it 1,200 Calories: Omit the walnuts at breakfast, change the A.M. snack to 1 clementine and change the P.M. snack to 1 medium apple.

To Make it 2,000 Calories: Add 1/3 cup dry-roasted unsalted almonds to A.M. snack and add 2 1/2 Tbsp. almond butter to P.M. snack.