Maintaining a Heart Healthy Diet to Lower Blood Pressure
If you’re wondering how to eat to lower your blood pressure or want to consider keeping your heart healthy, there are many eating patterns that can get you there like the Mediterranean diet and the DASH diet. The Mediterranean diet focuses mainly on plant-based options, plenty of fruits and vegetables, and olive oil. Although included, there is little animal protein and dairy in this diet. The focus is on healthy fats and plenty of fiber.
The DASH Diet stands for Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension. This eating plan is designed to help treat or prevent high blood pressure (hypertension). The DASH diet boasts many similarities to the Mediterranean diet, but emphasizes lower sodium content, while limiting saturated fat and sugar. It also boasts plenty of fiber, potassium, and magnesium through multiple servings of fruits, vegetables, and legumes. Lean proteins like fish, poultry, and dairy are also recommended but in smaller quantities.
When following a DASH diet we are looking for people to consume no more than 2,300 mg of sodium per day which is the equivalent to a teaspoon of salt. (1)
How and What to Eat to Lower Your Blood Pressure
Both eating patterns are optimal for heart health and the foods they include are not just healthy, but are down right delicious. Here are two of my favorite vegetarian (and lower in sodium), quick and easy meal options that are sure to satisfy your palate and keep your heart healthy and happy (and will help get you on track to lowering your blood pressure!):
Chhole (Chickpea Curry) Recipe
The first is a “Chhole” or chickpea curry. Made with convenient canned beans (rinsed to remove any salt from the soaking water), it’s a quick and easy authentic Indian recipe that you can make in minutes. If you want to add more heart healthy potassium to this recipe, please add some roasted cauliflower florets. Also, consider buying a garam masala with no sodium, and if you do, the sodium in this recipe is knocked down substantially.
Serve with brown basmati rice and a side salad and you’ve got a “dashing creation”!
Time: 15 minutes
- 1 medium serrano pepper, cut into thirds
- 4 large cloves garlic
- 1 2-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and coarsely chopped
- 1 medium yellow onion, chopped (1-inch)
- 6 tablespoons canola oil or grapeseed oil
- 2 teaspoons ground coriander
- 2 teaspoons ground cumin
- ½ teaspoon ground turmeric
- 2 ¼ cups no-salt-added canned diced tomatoes with their juice (from a 28-ounce can)
- ¾ teaspoon kosher salt
- 2 15-ounce cans chickpeas, rinsed
- 2 teaspoons garam masala
- Fresh cilantro for garnish
- Pulse serrano, garlic and ginger in a food processor until minced. Scrape down the sides and pulse again. Add onion; pulse until finely chopped, but not watery.
- Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the onion mixture and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, 3 to 5 minutes. Add coriander, cumin and turmeric and cook, stirring, for 2 minutes.
- Pulse tomatoes in the food processor until finely chopped. Add to the pan along with salt. Reduce heat to maintain a simmer and cook, stirring occasionally, for 4 minutes. Add chickpeas and garam masala, reduce heat to a gentle simmer, cover and cook, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes more. Serve topped with cilantro, if desired.
Chickpea Tuna Salad Recipe
My second DASH and Mediterranean friendly quick and easy meal is this Chickpea Tuna Salad. This recipe makes the perfect lunch to pack for work, school, or even when you’re on the go. Make sure to rinse your canned tuna and capers to rid them of excess salt, and consider omitting the ¼ tsp of salt in this recipe since the salt in the feta will provide that briny flavor that you might be craving. Add this mixture to crisp romaine lettuce leaves or crusty whole grain bread to make a sandwich and you’ve got yourself a delicious lunch or dinner meal!
Time: 20 minutes
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon nonpareil capers, rinsed and chopped
- 1 tablespoon finely chopped shallot
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon ground pepper
- 1 (15 ounce) can no-salt-added chickpeas, rinsed
- 1 (6.7 ounce) jar oil-packed tuna, drained
- 1 cup halved cherry tomatoes
- 1 cup thinly sliced English cucumber
- ½ cup crumbled feta cheese
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh dill
- 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 3 cups baby spinach
- Stir lemon juice, capers, shallot, salt and pepper together in a large bowl. Let stand for 5 minutes.
- Meanwhile, toss chickpeas, tuna, tomatoes, cucumber, feta and dill together in a large bowl.
- Whisk oil into the lemon juice mixture until fully incorporated. Spoon about 5 tablespoons of the dressing into the chickpea mixture; toss to coat.
- Add spinach to the remaining dressing in the large bowl; toss to coat. Divide the spinach evenly among 4 plates; top each plate with 1 1/4 cups chickpea mixture. Serve immediately.
Healthy, simple, delicious, good – your heart will thank you for it ❤️
If you need more help navigating how and what to eat to lower your blood pressure, take a look at my services or contact me. I am a registered dietitian focusing on helping women achieve their healthy lifestyle goals through nutrition.