The DASH Diet
DASH stands for Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension, which is the name of the research study that looked at the effects of eating patterns on blood pressure. From this study came the DASH diet—a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, and low-fat dairy foods, and low in saturated fat, total fat, and cholesterol. This diet was shown to significantly reduce blood pressure. The DASH diet combined with a low sodium intake can reduce blood pressure even further.
Researchers believe that it is the combination of nutrients from this eating pattern that helps to lower blood pressure. Specifically, magnesium, potassium, and calcium, as well as protein and fiber may act together to achieve this goal.
In addition to helping you manage your blood pressure, the DASH eating plan is a healthy one that will help you manage your weight and possibly reduce your risk of other chronic diseases. For example, research suggests that women who follow the DASH diet can reduce their risk of heart failure.
A registered dietitian can help design a DASH meal plan that will work for you. Check out the one-day sample menu below for an idea of what is in a DASH meal plan.
Depending on your calorie needs, these are the number of servings of each food group you should strive for each day under the DASH eating plan:
|Food Group||Servings Per Day|
|1,600 calories||2,000 calories||3,100 calories|
|Grains and grain products||6||6-8||12-13|
|Low-fat or fat-free dairy||2-3||2-3||3-4|
|Meats, poultry, and fish||3-4 or less||6 or less||6-9|
|Nuts, seeds, and dry beans||3 per week||4-5 per week||1|
|Fats and oils||2||2-3||4|
|Sweets||3 or less per week||5 of less per week||2 or less|
Good choices include:
- Whole wheat bread
- English muffin
- Pita bread
- Brown rice
- Whole grain cereals
- Low-fat, whole grain crackers and bread sticks
- Air-popped popcorn
Last reviewedMarch 2014by Michael Woods, MD
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.