If your goal is to lower your blood pressure and enjoy a healthful eating plan, then the DASH diet may be perfect for you. The Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) trial published in The New England Journal of Medicine is one of the recommended eating plans in the 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines. The DASH diet lowers blood pressure by including higher amounts of potassium, magnesium and calcium, even without reducing sodium.
What’s in the DASH Eating Plan?
- 6-8 daily servings of grains, with at least three of those servings as whole grains. Whole grains are good sources of fiber and minerals. One serving is equal to 1 ounce of bread, ½ cup of cooked rice/pasta, ½ cup of cooked cereal, or 1 cup of dry cereals.
- 4-6 daily servings of fruit. Emphasize fresh fruit or unsweetened canned or frozen fruit. One serving is equal to ½ cup of cut-up, canned, or frozen fruit or 1 small piece of fresh fruit. Fruit is a good source of fiber, potassium and magnesium and is naturally low in sodium.
- 4-6 daily servings of vegetables, including raw or cooked vegetables. One serving is equal to 1 cup of raw leafy green vegetables or 1/2 cup of chopped vegetables. Vegetables are good sources of fiber, potassium, and magnesium and are naturally low in sodium.
- 2-3 daily cups of non-fat or low-fat dairy foods like milk, cheese, or yogurt for protein, calcium, potassium, and Vitamin D. One serving is equal to 1 cup of milk or yogurt or 1 and ½ ounces of cheese.
- 6 ounces of lean protein each day like chicken, fish, and lean red meat, which are sources of protein, B vitamins, iron, & zinc.
- 3-6 weekly servings of nuts, seeds, and legumes for fiber, protein, magnesium, and potassium. One serving of nuts and seeds is equal to 1 ounce. One serving of legumes is ½ cup.
- 2-4 servings of fats and sweets.
Sample DASH-Style Menu
- Breakfast: 1 cup oatmeal, 1 sliced banana, 1 cup milk
- Snack: 1 cup yogurt with ½ cup sliced fruit
- Lunch: 3 oz turkey sandwich on 2 slices of whole wheat bread with lettuce and tomato, 1 cup vegetable salad (mix together black beans, onion, green pepper, and tomato with 1 tsp olive oil and ½ tsp vinegar), ½ cup grapes
- Snack: 1 cup celery and carrots with ¼ cup hummus
- Dinner: 3 oz grilled chicken, 1 cup roasted mixed vegetables, ½ cup brown rice
- Dessert: ½ cup strawberries with a dollop of whipped cream
By Lynn Grieger, RDN, CDE, CPT, CHWC
- A Clinical Trial of the Effects of Dietary Patterns on Blood Pressure. LJ Appel et al. N Engl J Med 1997; 336:1117-1124. April 17, 1997.
- Dietary Guidelines 2015-2020. Chapter 1: Key Elements of Healthy Eating Patterns. A Closer Look Inside Healthy Eating Patterns. https://health.gov/dietaryguidelines/2015/guidelines/chapter-1/a-closer-look-inside-healthy-eating-patterns/ Accessed 2-17-17.
Stephanie Ronco has been editing for Food and Health Communications since 2011. She graduated from Colorado College magna cum laude with distinction in Comparative Literature. She was elected a member of Phi Beta Kappa in 2008.