According to the National Institutes of Health, nearly half of all adults in the United States have high blood pressure. If left untreated, high blood pressure can put more stress on the heart and lead to serious health issues, such as kidney disease, damaged blood vessels, heart disease and stroke. Because high blood pressure, also called hypertension, has very few obvious symptoms, many people are unaware they have it, so it’s a good idea to get it checked by a medical provider if you’re unsure. Fortunately, diet and lifestyle, including weight loss for people with excessive weight, can play a role in lowering blood pressure.




In this weeklong meal plan, we limit sodium while incorporating the principles of the DASH diet to help keep your heart healthy. The DASH diet, standing for Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension, is considered the gold star for improving heart health and lowering blood pressure. It’s similar to the Mediterranean Diet, as it also emphasizes a high intake of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes and lean proteins while limiting processed foods, refined grains and excess sodium.


Exercise can also significantly lower blood pressure, so aim to move your body in whatever way feels best. A 4-week walking plan is a great place to start. According to the American Heart Association, even a minimal amount of weight loss can improve blood pressure for people with clinical obesity. We set this plan at 1,500 calories a day, which is a level that will result in healthy and gradual weight loss for most people. For those with different calorie needs, we include modifications for 1,200 and 2,000 calories per day.



Heart-Healthy Foods to Focus On:

Even though watching your sodium intake is important for healthy blood pressure, focusing on foods to eat more of is just as beneficial. Incorporating the principles of the DASH diet and eating more foods high in potassium, magnesium and calcium all play a role in lowering and maintaining healthy blood pressure. Some foods to incorporate include:


  • Dark leafy greens
  • Cruciferous veggies, like broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage and cauliflower
  • Beets
  • Potatoes, sweet potatoes and winter squash
  • Bananas
  • Pears
  • Apples
  • Plums
  • Berries (raspberries, strawberries, blackberries and blueberries)
  • Unsweetened dairy (plain yogurt, kefir)
  • Whole grains (quinoa, oats, whole-wheat, brown rice, bulgur and more)
  • Beans and lentils
  • Lean proteins
  • Avocados
  • Olive oil
  • Nuts and seeds, including minimally processed natural nut butters
  • Fatty fish (salmon, tuna, mackerel, sardines)



How to Meal-Prep Your Week of Meals:

  1. Make Raspberry-Vanilla Overnight Oats to have for breakfast on days 2, 3, 5 & 6.
  2. Make Lentil Salad with Feta, Tomatoes, Cucumbers & Olives to have for lunch on days 2 through 5.
  3. Make No-Bake Granola Bars to have as a snack throughout the week



Day 1

Photographer: Rachel Marek, Food stylist: Holly Dressman

Breakfast (347 calories)

  • 1 cup nonfat plain strained yogurt, such as Greek
  • ½ cup chopped cherries
  • ¼ cup sliced ​​almonds


AM Snack (129 calories)

  • 1 large bell pepper, sliced
  • 3 Tbsp. hummus


Lunch (376 calories)



PM Snack (203 calories)

  • 1 medium banana
  • 1 Tbsp. almond butter


Dinner (433 calories)



Daily Totals: 1,488 calories, 59g fat, 94g protein, 158g carbohydrate, 33g fiber, 970mg sodium


Make it 1,200 calories: Reduce to 1 Tbsp. sliced ​​almonds at breakfast plus omit almond butter at PM snack and quinoa at dinner.


Make it 2,000 calories: Increase to 3 Tbsp. almond butter in PM snack, add 1 serving Greek Salad with Avocado for dinner and add 1 medium peach as an evening snack.



Day 2

Jennifer Causey; Styling: Lindsey Lower

Breakfast (353 calories)



AM Snack (62 calories)



Lunch (380 calories)



PM Snack (285 calories)



Dinner (413 calories)



Daily Totals: 1,493 calories, 59g fat, 69g protein, 187g carbohydrate, 30g fiber, 1,284mg sodium


Make it 1,200 calories: Reduce to 3/4 cup low-fat plain kefir at lunch and change PM snack to 1/4 cup blueberries.


Make it 2,000 calories: Add 1/4 cup dry-roasted unsalted almonds to AM snack, 1 plum for lunch and 1 serving Guacamole Chopped Salad for dinner.



Day 3

Jennifer Causey

Breakfast (353 calories)



AM Snack (154 calories)

  • 20 dry-roasted unsalted almonds


Lunch (380 calories)



PM Snack (121 calories)

  • ¾ cup nonfat plain strained yogurt, such as Greek
  • ¼ cup blueberries


Dinner (498 calories)



Daily Totals: 1,506 calories, 62g fat, 74g protein, 176g carbohydrate, 36g fiber, 1,522mg sodium


Make it 1,200 calories: Change AM snack to 1/2 cup sliced ​​cucumber and omit pita at dinner.


Make it 2,000 calories: Add 1 serving Pineapple Green Smoothie for breakfast, 1 medium banana for AM snack and 2 Tbsp. chopped walnuts to PM snack.



Day 4

Breakfast (295 calories)



AM Snack (285 calories)



Lunch (380 calories)



PM Snack (95 calories)



Dinner (426 calories)



Daily Totals: 1,481 calories, 42g fat, 81g protein, 206g carbohydrate, 32g fiber, 1,161mg sodium


Make it 1,200 calories: Change AM snack to 1 medium banana and omit kefir at lunch.


Make it 2,000 calories: add 2 large hard-boiled eggs to breakfast, 1 serving Everything Bagel Avocado Toast and 2 Tbsp. natural peanut butter to PM snack.



Day 5

Photographer: Rachel Marek, Food stylist: Holly Dressman

Breakfast (353 calories)



AM Snack (105 calories)



Lunch (380 calories)



PM Snack (206 calories)

  • ¼ cup dry-roasted unsalted almonds


Dinner (474 ​​calories)



Meal-Prep Tips: Reserve two servings of Creamy Chicken, Mushroom & Spinach Skillet Casserole to have for lunch on days 6 & 7.


Daily Totals: 1,518 calories, 76g fat, 64g protein, 160g carbohydrate, 30g fiber, 1,393mg sodium


Make it 1,200 calories: Change PM snack to 1/4 cup blueberries and omit Kale Salad with Balsamic & Parmesan at dinner.


Make it 2,000 calories: Add 1 serving Pineapple Green Smoothie for breakfast and 2 Tbsp. natural peanut butter to AM snack.



Day 6

Breakfast (353 calories)



AM Snack (202 calories)

  • 20 dry-roasted unsalted almonds
  • ¾ cup raspberries


Lunch (367 calories)



PM Snack (161 calories)

  • 1 cup blackberries
  • ¾ cup nonfat plain strained yogurt, such as Greek


Dinner (403 calories)



Daily Totals: 1,487 calories, 58g fat, 86g protein, 173g carbohydrate, 37g fiber, 1,078mg sodium


Make it 1,200 calories: Omit almonds at AM snack and change PM snack to 3/4 cup blackberries.


Make it 2,000 calories: Add 1 serving of Pineapple Green Smoothie for breakfast and 1 serving of Caprese Salad with Cherry Tomatoes for dinner.



Day 7

Photographer: Jen Causey, Food Stylist: Emily Nabors Hall

Breakfast (295 calories)



AM Snack (285 calories)



Lunch (367 calories)



PM Snack (103 calories)

  • ⅔ cup nonfat plain strained yogurt, such as Greek
  • ¼ cup blackberries


Dinner (473 calories)



Daily Totals: 1,523 calories, 52g fat, 71g protein, 213g carbohydrate, 36g fiber, 1,506mg sodium


Make it 1,200 calories: Change AM snack to 1 medium peach and omit yogurt at PM snack.


Make it 2,000 calories: Add 1/4 cup dry-roasted unsalted almonds for breakfast, 1 medium banana for AM snack and 1/2 an avocado, sliced, for dinner.

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