High blood pressure meal plan

What are the benefits of heart-healthy eating?

Eating a heart-healthy diet is important for managing your blood pressure and reducing your risk of heart attack, stroke and other health threats.

Get quality nutrition from healthy food sources

Aim to eat a diet that’s rich in:

  • Fruits
  • Vegetables
  • Whole-grains
  • Low-fat dairy products
  • Skinless poultry and fish
  • Nuts and legumes
  • Non-tropical vegetable oils

Limit:

  • Saturated and trans fats
  • Sodium
  • Red meat (if you do eat red meat, compare labels and select the leanest cuts available)
  • Sweets and sugar-sweetened beverages

Be sure to work with the “chefs” in your household and plan together for any dietary changes that are needed. When cooking at home, try heart-healthy recipes. When dining out, look for healthy options.

Read the labels

By adopting the habit of reading food labels, you can choose foods more wisely. Watch for foods that have saturated fat or trans fat — factors that can raise your cholesterol. Eating foods that are high in sodium (salt) can increase blood pressure. Generally, the higher your salt intake, the higher your blood pressure.

Get the fact sheet on understanding nutrition labels: English (PDF) | Spanish (PDF)

Look for the Heart-Check mark

With so many marketing messages being thrown at you in the grocery store, it can be difficult to know what is truly healthy. To make it easier, the American Heart Association (AHA) developed the Heart-Check mark. When you see this symbol on food packaging, it means that the product meets AHA criteria for saturated fat, trans fat, and sodium for a single serving of the food product for healthy people over age 2. Learn more about the Heart-Check Certification Program

The DASH eating plan

As its name implies, the DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) eating plan is designed to help you manage blood pressure. Emphasizing healthy food sources, it also limits:

  • Red meat
  • Sodium (salt)
  • Sweets, added sugars and sugar-containing beverages

In addition to being easy to follow, delicious and varied, the DASH eating plan is proven effective. Download a PDF of the complete DASH eating plan(link opens in new window).

Learn more:

  • Get a fact sheet on following a heart-healthy diet: English (PDF) | Spanish (PDF)
  • For more tips, visit our healthy eating section.

High blood pressure is a health issue that affects both young and old Australians alike, with close to 6 million Australians (34%) aged 18 years and over with high blood pressure.

Alarmingly it’s one of the leading risk factors for death and disability in Australia, as well as across the world.

One the easiest steps you can take to prevent high blood pressure is choosing healthy foods.

The foods we choose every day are important for our heart health. Research into high blood pressure shows us that the foods we consume can help to lower and manage high blood pressure.

But don’t worry, we’ve done the heavy lifting and read the research, all you need to do is read on. The following foods are your best bets in beating high blood pressure– based on the science.

Vegetables

While research on beetroots and high blood pressure has got a lot of coverage lately, don’t think that beetroot is the only vegetable of importance. Regularly having 4-5 serves of vegetables is linked to a lower risk of high blood pressure. In the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) eating pattern, people who ate more vegetables and fruit compared to their regular diet (which was probably low in these natural superfoods) had lower blood pressure than those who didn’t.

Choose a variety of fruit and vegetables. The different colours offer different healthy nutrients. Read here for more information on what a serve is and ways to get more vegetables in your day.

Fruit

After reading about vegetables, it’s no surprise their partner fruit features in a healthy eating pattern for managing high blood pressure. Like vegetables, fruit is a rich source of potassium, magnesium and fibre.

Include a handful of frozen and washed berries on your yoghurt or a piece of fruit with nuts as a 3pm pick me up.

Fresh, frozen, canned fruit and vegetables all count towards your daily amount. Frozen and canned vegetables can be just as healthy as fresh. Read the nutrition information panel to avoid added salt and added sugar in these varieties, and check out our tips on storing fresh fruit and vegetables.

Wholegrains

This may be more surprising given some fad diets swear off wholegrain foods like bread or cereals but regular consumption of wholegrains is linked with healthier hearts, and a lower risk of high blood pressure. This is no surprise to us here at the Heart Foundation – we know high intake of wholegrains is linked to a 30% lower risk of death from cardiovascular disease.

Choose wholegrain versions of your regular foods: wholegrain pasta and rice, wholegrain bread, wholegrain or high fibre breakfast cereal like rolled oats, porridge, or untoasted muesli. Remember to watch your portion size. Rice and pasta can be easy to over-serve. At your main meal keep to ½ to 1 cup (cooked) and instead load up on vegetables.

Reduced fat dairy

Combining the vegetables, fruit, and wholegrain choices with reduced fat unflavoured dairy products like milk and yoghurt has been linked to greater reductions in blood pressure than increasing fruit and veg intake alone.

Choose reduced fat unflavoured milk, cheese and yoghurt and look for ways to include these foods as a nourishing snack. Enjoy reduced fat plain yoghurt with a bowl of wholegrain cereal, topped with berries and nuts and you have a recipe for success. Add reduced fat cheese with tomato and avocado to wholegrain crackers for filling morning or afternoon snack.

Nuts and seeds

Nuts and seeds are delicious and nutritious. Nuts and seeds provide healthy unsaturated fats, proteins, vitamins and minerals.

Nuts, seeds and legumes are important parts of healthy eating patterns, so try and include some plain unsalted nuts and seeds in your meals every day. A serve of nuts or seeds is 30g, or a small handful.

An added bonus – regular consumption of nuts is linked to lower levels of LDL (bad) cholesterol and total cholesterol in the blood, and does not lead to weight gain.

Spice up your life

Including these foods everyday will put you on a path to good health. More of these foods means less of the foods that may be too high in salt or saturated fat. Limiting your salt and saturated fat intake is important for your heart health, and the health of your blood vessels. Choose the above foods and know you’ll be automatically lowering your salt and saturated fat intake. When cooking, use different spices to bring out the flavour of your foods instead of salt.

And when you choose packaged foods, don’t always trust your tastebuds – trust the nutrition information panel instead – as many of the the packaged foods we turn to for quick and convenient meals can contain way too much hidden salt.

What do we take away from this? Small changes count.

Several small changes can lead to big change, which is good news for our blood vessels and our hearts.

Looking for inspiration to put these small changes into practice? Check out our Heart Health Eating Principles and new Recipes.

Read our blood pressure FAQs.

Take our blood pressure quiz.

Meal Plan for High Blood Pressure – Diet Plan & Recipes

Get Delicious, Heart-healthy Recipes with the MyFoodMyHealth Meal Plan and Diet to Lower High Blood Pressure

What to Expect

Congratulations! You’re taking the first step on a new and exciting journey that uses food and diet to help address your health conditions. That means you’ll be making some positive, but necessary changes to how and what you eat to improve your health. In your meal planner you’ll no doubt see recipes and ingredients that may seem unfamiliar and new. That is the point and intentional. If you have serious health conditions, it is very likely that you should not keep doing – or eating – everything you did in the past in the same way. You will need to expand your culinary palette and learn to embrace the changes as you journey to better health.

Get nutritional support for high blood pressure by following the MyFoodMyHealth diet for high blood pressure. Sign up for MyFoodMyHealth and for as little as $7.50 per month, you’ll get:

  • Unlimited access to 100’s of delicious, chef-created recipes – most you can prepare in less than 30 minutes
  • Personalized weekly meal planner tailored for high blood pressure, plus other health conditions, allergies, and food dislikes
  • All recipes include a nutritional value table
  • You can substitute and add additional recipes, such as side dishes, desserts and snacks

PLUS…

  • Time-saving weekly shopping lists, pantry basics, and online shopping resources
  • Expert information on food and nutrition for high blood pressure, as well as other health conditions and allergies
  • Exclusive online access to cooking, nutrition and health tips, videos, articles, and more…

Get Dietary Support for High Blood Pressure with the Delicious MyFoodMyHealth Diet

For less than the cost of one cookbook you’ll gain immediate access to our meal planner, high blood pressure diet recipes, shopping lists, and more… Sign up today for a subscription to MyFoodMyHealth or view a Free Demo of the MyFoodMyHealth meal planner today.


Learn More About the MyFoodMyHealth Diet & Meal Plan for High Blood Pressure

  • MyFoodMyHealth Meal Planner
  • MyFoodMyHealth Diet for High Blood Pressure
  • FREE Sample Recipe for High Blood Pressure
  • General Information on High Blood Pressure

MyFoodMyHealth Online Weekly Meal Planner

The Easy Way to Follow a Diet for High Blood Pressure

We know your life is busy. Our convenient, online meal planner makes it fast and easy for you to prepare healthy meals that help control high blood pressure. It’s filled with nutritious recipes so delicious and satisfying even the pickiest eaters will enjoy following the MyFoodMyHealth diet for high blood pressure.

You can even add other health conditions and food allergies so you can prepare delicious food that meets the dietary needs of your whole family.

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Easily Support Multiple Health Conditions & Food Allergies with MyFoodMyHealth Meal Planner

Are you cooking for yourself and have multiple health conditions or food allergies? Or do you have a daughter with asthma, a spouse with diabetes and a son who hates broccoli and has a peanut allergy? No worries. Unlike other systems, MyFoodMyHealth takes everyone into account, whether you’re cooking for one, two, or the whole family.

To start cooking delicious meals that meet everyone’s health needs, simply set up your profile to include the health conditions, food allergies or food dislikes for you and your family members. The Meal Planner automatically generates meal plans and recipes that meet everyone’s health needs. It’s that easy!

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The MyFoodMyHealth Meal Plan for High Blood Pressure

Your diet can directly affect your blood pressure level. Following a heart-healthy diet to help maintain a normal blood pressure level should be a key component of your high blood pressure treatment plan. A healthy meal plan and diet to lower high blood pressure should reduce sodium, saturated fat, and cholesterol. It should increase the amount of potassium, folate, vitamin C, flavanoids, and possibly L-arginine (an amino acid involved in production of nitric oxide and an important vasodilator).

DASH Diet Plan to Lower High Blood Pressure

The DASH diet is highly recommended if you have high blood pressure. This eating plan has been proven to lower blood pressure in studies sponsored by the National Institute of Health. It stands for “Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension” and is mostly based on consuming fruits and vegetables and low-fat or non-fat dairy. This diet for lowering high blood pressure is based on decreasing your sodium/salt intake and increasing your servings of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.

Important Note:

The MyFoodMyHealth diet for high blood pressure follows the essential guidelines of the DASH program but not the exact serving recommendations. MyFoodMyHealth completely supports eating whole grains, multiple servings of vegetables, some fruit, some dairy products, lean meats, poultry, and some fish. The MyFoodMyHealth meal planner is completely customizable, so you can easily support heart health by adding an abundance of vegetables and fruits as delicious side dishes to your menus.

Foods to Avoid if You Have High Blood Pressure

Animal fat is linked to high blood pressure. As a result you should avoid or limit the following foods if you are following a diet for high blood pressure:

  • Beef
  • Lamb
  • Veal

Great Herbs to Eat if You Have High Blood Pressure

  • Dill
  • Fenugreek
  • Garlic
  • Nutmeg
  • Parsley
  • Rosemary

Great Foods to Eat if You Have High Blood Pressure

You don’t have to cut back on flavor just because you’re cutting back on saturated fat, sodium, and sugar. It’s quite the opposite. Seasonal fruits and vegetables, hearty whole grains, ocean-fresh fish – even decadent chocolate – can all help you maintain a normal blood pressure.

Calcium (Possesses a greater blood pressure-lowering effect)

  • Amaranth
  • Beans, dried
  • Bok Choy
  • Broccoli
  • Cheese, fresh
  • Kale
  • Milk
  • Salmon
  • Soybeans
  • Tofu
  • Yogurt
  • Flaxseed oil (Acts as an anti-inflammatory)

Garlic (Raw)
One small clove daily will help. It contains the chemical allicin which stops cells from taking up cholesterol; additionally the sulphur in garlic acts as an antioxidant with a long chain fatty acid molecule which protects against atherosclerosis (the progressive narrowing and hardening of the arteries).

Magnesium (Reduces elevated blood pressure by relaxing the muscles that control blood vessels)

  • Almonds
  • Amaranth
  • Avocados
  • Barley
  • Brazil nuts
  • Chocolate
  • Oysters
  • Pumpkin seeds
  • Quinoa
  • Spinach
  • Sunflower seeds

Omega-3 fatty acids (Fosters good circulation)

  • Avocados
  • Flax seeds
  • Salmon
  • Trout
  • Tuna
  • Walnuts

Potassium (Helps maintain blood pressure levels)

  • Apricots
  • Avocados
  • Bananas
  • Beans, dried
  • Beets
  • Bok Choy
  • Broccoli
  • Brussels sprouts
  • Cantaloupe
  • Chocolate
  • Clams
  • Figs
  • Oranges
  • Pomegranates
  • Potatoes
  • Quinoa
  • Tomatoes
  • Water chestnuts
  • Yogurt

Vitamin C (Widens blood vessels to help lower blood pressure)

  • Cabbage, red
  • Kiwi fruit
  • Oranges
  • Peppers, bell, red
  • Pineapple
  • Potatoes
  • Strawberries
  • Tangerines and other mandarins

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Sample Recipe for High Blood Pressure

Armenian Red Lentil Soup by Jennifer Abadi

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General Information on High Blood Pressure

What is High Blood Pressure?

High blood pressure, also known as hypertension, is when the heart has to work harder to get blood to the body. High blood pressure is a risk factor for a variety of serious diseases including coronary disease, stroke, hardening of the arteries, and atherosclerosis. It is thought to be one of the most important and preventable causes of premature death in developed countries.

Symptoms of High Blood Pressure

  • Headache/severe headache
  • Fatigue
  • Confusion
  • Vision changes
  • Nausea
  • Chest pain
  • Vomiting
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Blood in the urine

Risk Factors for High Blood Pressure

  • Age (65+ more likely)
  • Genetics
  • Obesity
  • Lack of exercise
  • Reno vascular disease/chronic kidney disease
  • Adrenal gland abnormalities
  • Hyperthyroidism
  • Smoking
  • Excessive alcohol
  • Excessive salt
  • Stress

Health Problems Associated With High Blood Pressure

  • Stroke
  • Heart failure
  • Heart attack
  • Kidney failure
  • Vision problems

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How MyFoodMyHealth Can Help You Lower High Blood Pressure

  • Our customized online meal planner uses the healing power of whole foods to help you lower high blood pressure. It takes into consideration the health conditions of everyone in your household, allowing you to serve wonderful meals that meet everyone’s nutritional needs.

  • MyFoodMyHealth automatically generates a shopping list for you based on your conditions, making shopping easy.

  • Videos, cooking tips, recipes and an extensive glossary provide “the basics” you need to cook flavorful and nutritious meals.

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