A Week of Easy High-Protein Dinners for High Blood Pressure
1 in 3 adults in the U.S. have high blood pressure (also known as hypertension), which is a condition where plaque builds up in the arteries and forces your heart to work harder to pump blood throughout the body. If left untreated, high blood pressure can lead to heart attack, stroke and kidney damage. Thankfully, a healthy diet and lifestyle can help prevent those complications. If you're trying to lower high blood pressure, research shows the DASH diet (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) is one of the most effective ways to lower high-blood pressure. This way of eating has you up your intake of fruits, veggies, whole grains, lean protein and low-fat dairy items which naturally causes you reduce how much sodium, saturated fat and sweets you eat.
Data now suggests that getting enough protein in your diet may also help promote a healthy blood pressure. According to a study published in Circulation, upping your intake of healthy protein sources—like lean cuts of chicken, pork and beef and plenty of plant-based protein—may actually help lower systolic blood pressure slightly (the first number in a blood pressure reading that measures how much pressure is in your arteries with each heartbeat).
We know that managing any health condition on top of daily stressors isn't always easy. So, to help make lowering your blood pressure as easy as can be, we rounded up 7 days of healthy dinners that follow the DASH diet principles, while also providing at least 14 grams of filling protein per serving. An added bonus—protein helps to keep you feeling full and satisfied after a meal, which means no grumbling belly an hour after eating. Managing your blood pressure has never been so simple or delicious!
Day 1: Sheet-Pan Chili-Lime Salmon with Potatoes & Peppers
= 35 grams protein per serving
This sheet pan dinner's shining star is salmon, which is loaded with heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids. The fats found in fish like salmon have been shown to lower blood pressure when eaten regularly. Additionally, the American Heart Association recommends that 1 to 2 non-fried seafood meals per week be included to reduce the risk of stroke. Since those with high blood pressure are at increased risk for stroke, eating dinners like this is an excellent step to keep your ticker in check. Instead of seasoning the fish with a high-sodium seasoning blend, this recipe is spiced up with a combo of chili powder, cumin, garlic powder and just a little salt for an anything-but-boring flavor. No fresh salmon? Canned salmon is just as healthy! (Read on for how to make simple salmon patties.)
Think you can't have potatoes on the DASH diet? Think again! Although their white color may make people think they're lacking in nutrients, It's actually quite the opposite—they're rich in potassium, a nutrient that is key to maintaining a healthy blood pressure. Another bonus—potatoes last in the pantry for a long time, making them a convenient ingredient. Add bell peppers to the mix (either fresh or frozen) and you have yourself a delicious, nutritious meal.
Day 2: Skillet Steak with Mushroom Sauce
= 27 grams protein per serving
This steak, broccoli rabe and pea dinner is a one-skillet meal that will be on your table in just 25 minutes! This recipe is a great way to use that bag of frozen peas in your freezer and while we do think the mushrooms are essential, you could swap out the broccoli rabe for any veggie you have on hand.
While the DASH diet encourages plant-based proteins and fish more often, beef can be a healthy part of the diet, too, as long as portion sizes are kept in check (a typical serving is 4 ounces beef) and lean cuts are used (like the beef top sirloin steak used in this recipe). An added bonus to using leaner cuts is that they tend to be cheaper, too. While some leaner cuts require long cook times, like chuck or bottom round roasts, this top sirloin option cooks more quickly.
Read More: The Best Cheap Cuts of Meat
Day 3: Chickpea & Quinoa Buddha Bowl
= 18 grams protein per serving
There is no wrong way to make a Buddha bowl. We chose to make ours with plant-based proteins since greater plant protein intake is associated with lower blood pressure. Choosing foods like chickpeas will fuel your body with satisfying protein, fiber and important vitamins and minerals to both help support your blood pressure goals and keep you satisfied. Not to mention, they're a typical pantry staple, so chances are you already have them on hand. For an extra kick of protein and filling fiber, we use quinoa here but any whole grain could work if you don't have quinoa on hand (just note, they'll probably be a little lower in protein).
Topped with assorted veggies and a homemade hummus dressing made from mixing hummus with a little water and parsley and chopped roasted red peppers for flavor (you can mix up the add-ins based on what you have), this healthy plant-based bowl is an easy blood-pressure-lowering option for dinner or even lunch.
Day 4: Slow-Cooker Chicken Marsala
= 47 grams protein per serving
This slow-cooker chicken Marsala recipe delivers 47 filling grams of lean protein per serving and gets its full flavor from mushrooms and shallots (or any type of onion), while whole-wheat pasta soaks up the rich sauce. The DASH diet guidelines suggest making most of your grains whole grains for the added fiber content, as it has been shown to help improve cardiovascular health. Pair with a side of simple veggies (from fresh or frozen) to round out this healthy dinner.
Day 4: Eggs in Tomato Sauce with Chickpeas & Spinach
= 14 grams protein per serving
Canned tomatoes, canned chickpeas and eggs simmer together in a single skillet to create a super-fast vegetarian dinner that can help lower blood pressure. This simple recipe is oh-so-satisfying and is best enjoyed with a piece of crusty bread to soak up the silky sauce. This recipe calls for heavy cream to make the creamy sauce—a lower-fat option might curdle when mixed with acidic tomatoes—but because we're using such a small amount, the saturated fat won't be too high. Remember, you don't have to exclude all saturated-fat containing foods, just eat them in smaller amounts and choose foods lower in saturated fats most of the time. If you don't have heavy cream, whole milk or a little full-fat sour cream mixed in before serving will also do the trick.
Day 6: Maple-Mustard Pork with Roasted Sweet Potatoes and Cauliflower
= 23 grams of protein per serving
The combination of sweet maple syrup and tangy mustard makes a flavorful marinade for quick-cooking lean pork loin chops in this healthy dinner recipe. Serving this dish with roasted sweet potatoes and cauliflower—both of which last for a while in the pantry and fridge, respectively—gives a boost of potassium and magnesium, two nutrients that support a healthy blood pressure. Using a marinade made with real maple syrup and mustard instead of a jarred option keeps the sodium intake in check.
Day 7: Slow Cooker Vegetarian Bolognese
= 16 grams protein per serving
Beans stand in place of ground beef in this hearty vegetarian sauce made with canned beans and pantry herbs and spices. The prep only takes 15 minutes and then the slow-cooker handles the rest of the cooking, so all that's left to do is cook up some whole-wheat pasta or a high-protein pasta alternative (like chickpea or lentil pasta) to serve it over and dinner is ready. If you have leftovers, freeze them for an easy meal another day.
Swapping out the meat in a classic Bolognese with veggies and beans makes this otherwise heavy dish a perfect weeknight dinner that supports healthy blood pressure by fueling your body with potassium, protein and fiber.