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The DASH Diet — Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension

If you have high blood pressure – also called “hypertension,” the DASH diet is for you. According to research by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the DASH diet has been proven to lower blood pressure in just 2 weeks! Research also shows that the DASH diet reduces blood cholesterol – a major risk factor in the development of heart disease.

The DASH Diet, which stands for Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension, is a plant-based eating plan that is rich in:

  • fruits
  • vegetables
  • whole grains
  • low-fat dairy foods. 

It is also low in:

For more information about the DASH Diet, please visit DASH: A Heart-healthy Diet.


DASH Diet: Tips  

The DASH diet is a healthy way to lower blood pressure and other diseases. Here are some easy ways to follow the DASH diet:

  • Choose 4-5 servings of fresh fruit and 4-5 servings of vegetables daily.

    • Grab a banana or fresh orange for a snack.
    • Add sliced tomatoes to sandwiches and salads or canned tomatoes to soups and sauces.
    • Toss sliced bananas, peaches or raisins in your dry cereal at breakfast.


  • Ideally, try to have 3, low fat dairy servings daily.

    • Drink a glass of skim or 1% milk a few hours prior to bedtime. It will increase the calcium in your diet and may improve your sleep.
    • Grab a carton of yogurt for a treat instead of a slice of cake or a candy bar.
    • Snack on a low fat cheese stick and wheat crackers in the afternoon.


  • Add dried beans such as garbanzo or kidney to your soup or salad.


  • Cook without salt and do not add salt to your foods at the table.

    • Try fresh herbs or garlic in meats, soups, sauces, potatoes, and other foods.


DASH Diet: Potassium and Calcium

Researchers have found that foods high in potassium and calcium help reduce blood pressure. Many of the foods in the DASH diet happen to be high in these 2 minerals.


Potassium is a mineral that helps maintain heart function. Foods high in potassium are often recommended for people taking diuretics, or “water pills” – a medication used in the treatment of high blood pressure. High potassium foods are also loaded with fiber, vitamins, and minerals, which are beneficial to overall health. High potassium foods include both fresh fruits and fresh or frozen vegetables.

Fruits that top the list are:

  • bananas
  • kiwi
  • cantaloupe
  • peaches
  • oranges
  • grapefruit
  • apricots
  • dried fruit. 

Vegetables high in potassium include:

  • spinach and other dark greens
  • broccoli
  • tomatoes
  • white and sweet potatoes
  • dried beans.

Unfortunately, most of us do not eat enough vegetables in our diet. The DASH diet recommends 4-5 servings of fresh fruit and 4-5 servings of vegetables daily.



Calcium is another mineral that helps maintain heart function. A diet high in calcium has also been linked with a reduction in blood pressure. High calcium, low-fat foods include:

  • non-fat or low-fat yogurt
  • skim and 1% milk
  • low-fat cheese
  • reduced fat frozen yogurt
  • ice milk.

For those with lactose intolerance or milk allergy, other foods high in calcium include:

  • dark, green, leafy vegetables
  • broccoli
  • tofu
  • calcium-fortified orange juice
  • calcium-fortified breads and cereals.

A diet high in calcium is also recommended to prevent the destructive bone disease, osteoporosis. The DASH diet recommends 3 servings of low fat milk products each day.


DASH Diet: Weight Loss

Many people think that decreasing their salt intake is the only way to control high blood pressure. Other changes in diet, however, are equally important for controlling high blood pressure. In fact, weight loss is even more beneficial. Being overweight raises your risk of high blood pressure 2 to 6 times more than if you are at normal weight. Being obese also makes it more likely that you will develop:

A weight loss of just 10 pounds can improve your:

By following the DASH diet, you can safely reach and keep a healthy weight – and at the same time control your blood pressure.


DASH Diet: Background

The DASH diet is suggested by the National High Blood Pressure Education Program and is supported by the National Institutes of Health and the American Heart Association. It was developed in 1996 by researchers at several medical centers across the United States:

  • Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston
  • Center for Health Research in Portland
  • Duke University Medical Center in Durham
  • John’s Hopkins University in Baltimore
  • Pennington Biomedical Research Center in Baton Rouge.


Points to Remember:

Controlling your blood pressure is vital in preventing these complications.

  • Losing just 10 pounds can lower your blood pressure and reduce your risk for heart disease.
  • Following the DASH diet can help you:

    • lose weight
    • lower your blood pressure
    • lower your blood cholesterol
    • reduce your risk for diabetes and heart-related diseases.


High Blood Pressure Facts (CDC)

High Blood Pressure Frequently Asked Questions (CDC)

Your Guide to Lowering Your Blood Pressure with DASH (NHLBI)

What is the DASH Eating Plan? (NHLBI)


Hope through Research – You Can Be Part of the Answer!

Many research studies are underway to help us learn about high blood pressure. Would you like to find out more about being part of this exciting research? Please visit the following links:


For more information:

Go to the Diet and Nutrition health topic.