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DASH Diet Basics to Lower Blood Pressure

Nina Ghamrawi, MS, RD, CDE
November 30, 2022
5

Don't want to read the whole article? Watch the video instead!

DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) is a flexible and balanced eating plan that helps create a heart-healthy eating style for life.

It requires no special foods and instead provides daily and weekly nutritional goals.

The DASH Eating Plan Recommends:

  • Eating vegetables, fruits, and whole grains
  • Including fat-free or low-fat dairy products, fish, poultry, beans, nuts, and vegetable oils
  • Limiting foods that are high in saturated fat, such as fatty meats, full-fat dairy products, and tropical oils such as coconut, palm kernel, and palm oils
  • Limiting sugar-sweetened beverages and sweets.

Most Americans will typically consume 6,000-8,000 mg of sodium per day, and not enough other minerals to help their blood pressure. This diet aims to reduce the added sodium we consume from processed foods, and sets a goal of around 2,000mg sodium per day.

If the entire U.S. population reduced its average salt intake to just half a teaspoon a day, (1500mg sodium), it would significantly cut the number of people who develop coronary heart disease every year, according to researchers in the New England Journal of Medicine.

The following table shows examples of daily and weekly servings that meet DASH eating plan targets for a 2,000-calorie-a-day diet. Talk with your Dietitian about how many calories you actually need, and they can help you tailor this list.

Food Group

Daily Servings

Grains

6–8

Meats, poultry, and fish

6 or less

Vegetables

4–5

Fruit

4–5

Low-fat or fat-free dairy products

2–3

Fats and oils

2–3

Sodium*

2,300 mg*

 

Weekly Servings

Nuts, seeds, dry beans, and peas

4–5

Sweets

5 or less

*1,500 milligrams (mg) sodium lowers blood pressure even further than 2,300 mg sodium daily.



When following the DASH eating plan, it is important to choose foods that are:

  • Low in saturated and trans fats
  • Rich in potassium, calcium, magnesium, fiber, and protein
  • Lower in sodium
Consider using a salt substitute, such as Mrs. Dash, if you have high blood pressure or heart failure.

What Does This Look Like?

Try out this 1800-Calorie menu for a day:

Breakfast

  • 1/2 whole-wheat bagel with 2 tablespoons natural peanut butter (no salt added)
  • 1 cup fat-free milk
  • Decaffeinated coffee

Morning Snack:

  • 1 medium orange

Lunch

  • Spinach salad made with:
  • 4 cups of fresh spinach leaves
  • 1/2 sliced pear
  • 1/3 cup slivered almonds
  • 2 tablespoons red wine vinaigrette
  • 12 reduced-sodium wheat crackers

Dinner

  • Herb-crusted baked cod, 3 ounces cooked (about 4 ounces raw)
  • 1/2 cup brown rice pilaf with vegetables
  • 1/2 cup fresh green beans, steamed
  • 1 small sourdough roll
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • Herbal iced tea

Numerous studies have shown that the DASH diet reduces the risk of many diseases, including some kinds of cancer, stroke, heart disease, heart failure, kidney stones, and diabetes. It has been proven to be an effective way to lose weight and become healthier at the same time. It is full of fabulous, delicious, real foods. Read more posts for ideas!

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