Enjoy a week of delicious anti-inflammatory foods tailored to improve blood pressure in this nutritious and flavorful 7-day meal plan.
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If you have high blood pressure, you've probably heard the guidance to cut back on salt. It's a good idea, considering nearly 90% of Americans get more than the recommended max of 2,300 mg of sodium per day and heart disease continues to be the leading cause of death in the United States. Most of the salt in our diets comes from processed foods and restaurant foods, not the salt shaker at home or added salt while cooking. While it's a good idea to be cautious of how much salt you're using in the kitchen, your best bet to lower sodium is to check the nutrition labels of processed and prepared foods and focus on more whole ingredients. But when it comes to lowering your blood pressure, cutting back on sodium isn't the whole story. In this plan, we incorporate the DASH diet (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) with a special focus on anti-inflammatory foods. We mapped out a week of meals and snacks filled with nutrient-rich fruits and vegetables, whole grains, fermented dairy, fish and healthy fats like nuts, seeds and olive oil while skipping red and processed meats, like sausage or deli meat, packaged foods and excess salt.

If you're trying to lose weight, reducing inflammation and lowering calories both play a role. We set this plan at 1,500 calories per day, which is a level where most people will lose weight, plus included modifications for 1,200 and 2,000 calories a day, depending on your calorie needs.

Why is the Anti-Inflammatory Diet Good for Blood Pressure?

Long-term inflammation is one of the driving forces of increased blood pressure and heart disease. Research suggests that chronic inflammation leads to excess plaque and damaged blood vessels, ultimately contributing to increased risk for heart disease and hypertension. Upping your intake of anti-inflammatory foods foods and incorporating inflammation-busting habits like getting quality sleep, stopping smoking and increasing exercise also play a role in improving health. Plus, eating more anti-inflammatory foods means seriously great things for our overall health. While we focused on heart health in this plan, the anti-inflammatory diet has been shown to reduce weight, improve blood sugars, prevent certain cancers and protect our brain and joints.

Best Anti-Inflammatory Foods for Healthy for Blood Pressure:

  • Cherries
  • Berries (blueberry, raspberries, blackberries)
  • Pomegranate
  • Banana
  • Avocado
  • Olive oil
  • Beets
  • Dark leafy greens (spinach, kale, chard and more)
  • Potato and sweet potato
  • Tomatoes
  • Beans and lentils
  • Whole grains (such as oats, quinoa, whole-wheat bread, brown rice, bulgur, freekeh)
  • Nuts and natural nut butters (especially walnuts, almonds and pistachios)
  • Seeds (flax, chia, pumpkin, sunflower)
  • Edamame
  • Fermented dairy, like yogurt and kefir
  • Spices
  • Fish, especially fatty fish like salmon, tuna, shrimp, sardines and anchovies

How to Meal-Prep Your Week of Meals:

  1. Make Mexican Spaghetti Squash Meal-Prep Bowls to have for lunch on days 2-5

Day 1

Salmon & Avocado Salad

Breakfast (323 calories)

A.M. Snack (206 calories)

  • ¼ cup dry-roasted unsalted almonds

Lunch (430 calories)

P.M. Snack (42 calories)

  • ½ cup blueberries

Dinner (508 calories)

Daily Totals: 1,509 calories, 80g protein, 86g fat, 11g saturated fat, 117g carbohydrate, 34g fiber, 1,223mg sodium

To Make it 1,200 Calories: omit orange at breakfast, change A.M. snack to 1 clementine and change lunch to 1 serving White Bean & Veggie Salad

To Make it 2,000 Calories: add 1 serving Berry-Kefir Smoothie to breakfast plus add 15 dried walnut halves to P.M. snack

Day 2

Vegan Lentil Stew
Credit: Fred Hardy

Breakfast (410 calories)

A.M. Snack (68 calories)

  • 3/4 cup nonfat plain kefir

Lunch (351 calories)

P.M. Snack (210 calories)

  • 1 medium banana
  • 1 Tbsp. natural peanut butter

Dinner (451 calories)

Daily Totals: 1,490 calories, 80g protein, 55g fat, 11g saturated fat, 187g carbohydrate, 34g fiber, 1,232mg sodium

To Make it 1,200 Calories: change breakfast to 1 serving Raspberry-Kefir Power Smoothie and omit peanut butter at P.M. snack

To Make it 2,000 Calories: add 15 dried walnut halves to A.M. snack, increase to 2 Tbsp. peanut butter at P.M. snack and add 1 serving Guacamole Chopped Salad to dinner

Day 3

Maple-Roasted Chicken Thighs with Sweet Potato Wedges & Brussels Sprouts

Breakfast (410 calories)

A.M. Snack (95 calories)

  • 1 medium apple

Lunch (351 calories)

P.M. Snack (213 calories)

  • 1 cup nonfat plain Greek yogurt
  • ½ cup raspberries
  • 1 Tbsp. chopped walnuts

Dinner (437 calories)

Daily Totals: 1,505 calories, 104g protein, 59g fat, 12g saturated fat, 159g carbohydrate, 34g fiber, 1,279mg sodium

To Make it 1,200 Calories: change breakfast to 1 serving Raspberry-Kefir Power Smoothie and change P.M. snack to 1 medium orange

To Make it 2,000 Calories: add 1 serving Sprouted-Grain Toast with Peanut Butter & Banana to breakfast and add 1/4 cup almonds to A.M. snack

Day 4

greek-salad-with-edamame.jpeg

Breakfast (323 calories)

A.M. Snack (195 calories)

  • 1 cup nonfat plain kefir
  • 1 medium banana

Lunch (351 calories)

P.M. Snack (206 calories)

  • ¼ cup dry-roasted unsalted almonds

Dinner (439 calories)

Daily Totals: 1,515 calories, 78g protein, 70g fat, 13g saturated fat, 167g carbohydrate, 35g fiber, 1,525mg sodium

To Make it 1,200 Calories: change A.M. snack to 1 medium orange and change P.M. snack to 1/4 cup blueberries

To Make it 2,000 Calories: add 1 serving Berry-Kefir Smoothie to breakfast plus add 1 1/2 Tbsp. natural peanut butter to A.M. snack

Day 5

Cauliflower Chicken Curry
Credit: Brie Passano

Breakfast (292 calories)

  • 1 cup nonfat plain Greek yogurt
  • ¼ cup raspberries
  • 3 Tbsp. chopped walnuts

A.M. Snack (157 calories)

  • 1 medium banana
  • 4 dried walnut halves

Lunch (351 calories)

P.M. Snack (200 calories)

  • 1 cup edamame, in pods

Dinner (477 calories)

Meal-Prep Tip: reserve two servings Cauliflower Chicken Curry and 1 cup cooked brown rice to have for lunch on days 6 & 7

Daily Totals: 1,478 calories, 95g protein, 63g fat, 12g saturated fat, 141g carbohydrate, 29g fiber, 1,221mg sodium

To Make it 1,200 Calories: change A.M. snack to 1 clementine and change P.M. snack to 2/3 cup blackberries

To Make it 2,000 Calories: add 1 serving Sprouted-Grain Toast with Peanut Butter & Banana to breakfast, increase to 15 dried walnut halves at A.M. snack plus add 1 medium apple to P.M. snack

Day 6

Sheet-Pan Shrimp & Beets

Breakfast (410 calories)

A.M. Snack (95 calories)

  • 1 medium apple

Lunch (415 calories)

P.M. Snack (154 calories)

  • 1 cup nonfat plain Greek yogurt
  • ¼ cup blueberries

Dinner (412 calories)

Daily Totals: 1,486 calories, 97g protein, 53g fat, 11g saturated fat, 169g carbohydrate, 31g fiber, 1,484mg sodium

To Make it 1,200 Calories: change breakfast to 1 serving Raspberry-Kefir Power Smoothie and omit yogurt at P.M. snack

To Make it 2,000 Calories: add 2 Tbsp. natural peanut butter to A.M. snack, add 1 Tbsp. chopped walnuts to P.M. snack plus add 1 serving Guacamole Chopped Salad to dinner

Day 7

Chickpea Soup
Credit: Photography / Caitlin Bensel, Styling: Ruth Blackburn

Breakfast (323 calories)

A.M. Snack (199 calories)

  • 8 dried walnut halves
  • 1 medium apple

Lunch (415 calories)

P.M. Snack (132 calories)

  • 1 cup nonfat plain kefir
  • ½ cup blueberries

Dinner (448 calories)

Daily Totals: 1,518 calories, 59g protein, 66g fat, 12g saturated fat, 189g carbohydrate, 39g fiber, 1,465mg sodium

To Make it 1,200 Calories: change A.M. snack to 1 medium orange, omit kefir at P.M. snack plus omit avocado at dinner

To Make it 2,000 Calories: add 1 cup nonfat plain kefir to breakfast, increase to 22 dried walnut halves at A.M. snack plus add 1/4 cup dry-roasted unsalted almonds to P.M. snack