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What is the DASH eating plan?

The Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) diet is a healthy, well balanced diet that is low in fat, saturated fat, cholesterol, and sweets and high in whole grains, fruits, vegetables, and low- fat dairy products. Studies have soon that this diet can help lower your blood pressure. Following the DASH Diet along with watching the sodium in your diet, is the best combination for fighting high blood pressure.

Picture of DASH food
Audrey K. Chun, MD
Geriatric Medicine
One of the goals of the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) diet is to increase intake of foods that are high in potassium, calcium and magnesium. These nutrients have all been associated with lower blood pressure, and they are most plentiful in fruits, vegetables and dairy foods. Dairy products should be low-fat or fat-free, as they have less cholesterol and saturated fat than full-fat dairy and they also have fewer calories. Other aspects of the DASH diet include eating more whole grain products, fish, poultry and nuts, and limiting foods that are high in total and saturated fat and cholesterol, such as red meat.

Choosing a range of colorful vegetables will maximize your nutrient intake. Some vegetables (potatoes, winter squash, corn, peas, beans) are high in starch, so consume them in moderation, since they are higher in calories and carbohydrates. But even starchy vegetables are preferable to refined foods that are high in fat or have little nutritional value. It's better to eat a starchy vegetable, such as sweet potatoes or corn, than it is to eat a chocolate bar or 2 cups of white rice.
Cassie Vanderwall
Nutrition & Dietetics

The DASH eating plan is a "Dietary Approach to Stop Hypertension" that promotes a meal plan that is low in sodium (salt) and high in fiber, potassium and calcium. This type of meal plan is proven by research to help lower people's blood pressure. The DASH eating plan recommends:

  • Whole grains with at least 3g fiber per serving
  • 5-9 servings of Fruit and Vegetables daily to help meet potassium and fiber goals.
  • Low-sodium foods in order to achieve the goal of less than 2000mg per day
  • At least 2 servings of calcium-rich foods, such as milk, soy milk, almond milk or dark leafy green vegetables.
The DASH eating plan is rich in fruits, vegetables, fat-free or low-fat milk and milk products, whole grains, fish, poultry, beans, seeds, and nuts. It also contains less salt and sodium; sweets, added sugars, and sugar-containing beverages; fats; and red meats than the typical American diet. This heart healthy way of eating is also lower in saturated fat, trans fat, and cholesterol and rich in nutrients that are associated with lowering blood pressure—mainly potassium, magnesium, and calcium, protein, and fiber.
This answer is base on source information from  the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute has been reviewed and/or edited by Dr. William D. Knopf.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.