The DASH Diet for Hypertension

The DASH Diet is based on the research studies: Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension, and has been proven to lower blood pressure, reduce cholesterol, and improve insulin sensitivity. The DASH diet provides more than just the traditional low salt or low sodium diet plans to help lower blood pressure. It is based on an eating plan proven to lower blood pressure, a plan rich in fruits, vegetables, and low-fat or nonfat dairy. 

The Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend the DASH eating plan as a model for healthy eating for everyone! The whole family can enjoy the DASH diet. And of course, the DASH diet was developed to help people lower their blood pressure. It provides additional heart health benefits, lowering cholesterol and inflammation. New research shows that it is effective in lowering blood pressure in children as well as adults.

The DASH diet helps to lower blood pressure by providing more key nutrients, such as potassium, calcium, and magnesium, all of which are associated with lower blood pressure. These key nutrients are boosted by including more fruits, vegetables, and low-fat or nonfat dairy in your daily diet. Some people see additional benefits by lowering sodium or salt in their diet.  Our book includes additional lifestyle changes to lower blood pressure, such as weight loss, exercise, smoking cessation, and moderation of alcohol intake.

The DASH Eating Plan shown below is based on 2,000 calories a day. The number of daily servings in a food group may vary from those listed depending on your caloric needs.

Food Group



Serving Sizes

Grains & grain products


1 slice bread

1 cup ready-to-eat cereal*

cup cooked rice, pasta, or cereal



1 cup raw leafy vegetable

cup cooked vegetable

6 ounces vegetable juice



1 medium fruit

cup dried fruit

cup fresh, frozen, or canned fruit

6 ounces fruit juice

Lowfat or fat free dairy foods


8 ounces milk

1 cup yogurt

1 ounces cheese

Lean meats, poultry, and fish

2 or less

3 ounces cooked lean meats, skinless poultry, or fish

Nuts, seeds, and dry beans

4-5 per week

1/3 cup or 1 ounces nuts

1 tablespoon or  ounce seeds

cup cooked dry beans

Fats & oils**


1 teaspoon soft margarine

1 tablespoon lowfat mayonnaise

2 tablespoons light salad dressing

1 teaspoon vegetable oil


5 per week

1 tablespoon sugar

1 tablespoon jelly or jam

ounce jelly beans

8 ounces lemonade

* Serving sizes vary between  cup -1 cups. Check the product's nutrition label.

** Fat content changes serving counts for fats and oils: For example, 1 tablespoon of regular salad dressing equals 1 serving; 1 tablespoon of a low fat dressing equals  serving; 1 tablespoon of a fat free dressing equals 0 servings.

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Tips On How To Make Healthier Meals

Begin by choosing foods low in saturated fat, low in sodium and low in calories:

Try fat free (skim) milk or lowfat (1%) milk
Only buy cheeses marked "lowfat" or "fat free" on the package
Choose to eat fruits and vegetables without butter or sauce
Serve rice, beans, cereals, pasta, whole grains (e.g., couscous, barley, bulgar, etc.)
Choose lean cuts of meat, fish, and skinless turkey and chicken
When available, buy low– or reduced–sodium or no–salt–added versions of foods

Use these recipe substitutions:

Use two egg whites for each whole egg and margarine or oil instead of butter
Use light mayonnaise instead of the regular variety
Use nonfat yogurt instead of sour cream
Use lowfat cheese instead of regular cheese
Use 1 percent or skim milk instead of whole milk
Use fresh poultry, fish and lean meat rather than canned or processed types

Try these meal tips: