What is dash diet?

Jump to

DASH diet: Overview

The DASH diet is an eating plan that can help lower your blood pressure. DASH stands for Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension. Hypertension is high blood pressure.

The DASH diet focuses on eating foods that are high in calcium, potassium, and magnesium. These nutrients can lower blood pressure. The foods that are highest in these nutrients are fruits, vegetables, low-fat dairy products, nuts, seeds, and legumes. But taking calcium, potassium, and magnesium supplements instead of eating foods that are high in those nutrients does not have the same effect. The DASH diet also includes whole grains, fish, and poultry.

The DASH diet is one of several lifestyle changes your doctor may recommend to lower your high blood pressure. Your doctor may also want you to decrease the amount of sodium in your diet. Lowering sodium while following the DASH diet can lower blood pressure even further than just the DASH diet alone.

What is the DASH diet?

The DASH diet is an eating plan that can help lower your blood pressure. DASH stands for Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension. It includes fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and low-fat or nonfat dairy. It also includes fish, poultry, beans, nuts, and seeds.

Using the DASH diet to lower your blood pressure

These tips can help you follow the DASH eating plan. The DASH eating plan is rich in fruits and vegetables, low-fat or nonfat dairy foods, and healthy fats. It can help lower your blood pressure.

Talk to your doctor before you begin this diet. Some people have health problems that cause them to have too much potassium in their blood. People who have these problems may need a diet that is lower in potassium than the DASH diet.
  • Eat fruits and/or vegetables at every meal.
    • Take fruit to work or school as a snack.
    • Use a variety of cut-up vegetables with a low-fat dip as an appetizer, instead of high-fat chips and dips.
    • Make a stir-fry with lots of different vegetables.
    • Make a baked potato bar. Serve baked potatoes with a variety of vegetables, such as broccoli. And use other toppings, such as chili, ratatouille, salsa, and beans.
    • Buy a vegetarian cookbook. Try one recipe each month or each week.
    • Combine a ready-made pizza crust with low-fat mozzarella cheese and lots of vegetable toppings. Use tomatoes, squash, spinach, broccoli, carrots, cauliflower, and onions.
  • Try some vegetarian meals using beans and peas.
    • Add garbanzo beans to a salad.
    • Use fat-free refried beans.
    • Make split pea or black bean soup.
  • Get 2 to 3 servings of fat-free or low-fat dairy every day.
    • Drink fat-free (skim) milk. One cup has only 80 calories and no fat. And it is packed with blood-pressure-lowering nutrients.
    • Try nonfat or low-fat yogurt topped with fruit and unsalted nuts.
    • For a snack, have a smoothie made with low-fat or fat-free milk and frozen fruit chunks.
    • Make a dip for fruit from low-fat or nonfat vanilla yogurt and cinnamon.
    • For breakfast, have whole-grain cereal, fruit, and fat-free milk.
  • Eat less saturated fat.
    • Use vegetable oils such as canola, olive, and corn oils.
    • Eat healthy fats from nuts and fish.
  • Eat less sodium.
    • Limit processed food, such as snack items, lunch meats, and canned soups.

Izzy's story: Living with the DASH diet

Izzy, 60
Learn how Izzy lowered her weight and her blood pressure with a few new habits.
"A big lesson I learned is that everything we do routinely is a habit. And habits can be changed. I'm living proof."

"I'm a believer!"

That's the proclamation from Izzy, a 60-year-old clerk from Petaluma, Calif. She's talking about a way of eating that helped her lose weight and brought her blood pressure way down. "If there were a commercial for the DASH diet, I'd volunteer to be a spokesperson," says Izzy.

The DASH diet is an eating plan that is low in fat but rich in low-fat dairy foods, fruits, and vegetables. DASH stands for Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension. Hypertension is high blood pressure.

"I didn't have any blood pressure problems until after I'd been quite overweight for about 10 years," Izzy says. But when her blood pressure tests were a little high, she knew her health could be at risk.

Today, 2 years after deciding it was time to take action, Izzy has lost her extra weight. And her blood pressure is 110 to 115 over 60 to 65.

Eating more vegetables

Izzy happens to love fresh vegetables. So she started using them to fill her plate—and her stomach. "My lunch usually includes a heaping plate of raw cauliflower, broccoli, radishes, cucumbers, carrots, and tomatoes," she says. She also makes sure she has 3 servings of dairy every day, usually in the form of low-fat mozzarella cheese sticks and fruit smoothies made with nonfat vanilla yogurt.

She says she makes a big effort to eat from all the other food groups, but vegetables are her go-to food. "They're always my entree, you might say. When I have meat or rice or something like that, it's like a side dish."

"Finding a permanent way to eat healthier seemed like an impossible thing to me," Izzy says. "I didn't see how I could ever give up so many things I love. But here's the thing: I didn't give them up. Yep, I still have my beloved nachos once in a while, but my portions are much smaller—just enough to satisfy my craving, you know?"

This story is based on information gathered from many people facing this health issue.

©2011-2024 Healthwise, Incorporated

The content above contains general health information provided by Healthwise, Incorporated, and reviewed by its medical experts. This content should not replace the advice of your healthcare provider. Not all treatments or services described are offered as services by us. For recommended treatments, please consult your healthcare provider.