The DASH Diet

The DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) diet is a dietary pattern developed by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute to help prevent and control high blood pressure. The DASH diet emphasizes eating fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, and low-fat dairy products while limiting saturated and trans fats, sugar, and sodium.

How Does it Work?

The DASH diet recommends consuming a variety of foods from each food group, including:

  • Vegetables: Aim for 4 to 5 servings per day, focusing on colorful, leafy greens, and cruciferous vegetables.
  • Fruits: Aim for 4 to 5 servings per day, focusing on whole fruits rather than fruit juices.
  • Grains: Aim for 6 to 8 servings per day, choosing whole grains like whole-wheat bread, brown rice, and quinoa.
  • Lean proteins: Aim for 6 or fewer servings per day, choosing fish, poultry, and legumes like beans and lentils.
  • Low-fat dairy: Aim for 2 to 3 servings per day, choosing low-fat milk, yogurt, and cheese.
  • Healthy fats: Aim for 2 to 3 servings per day, choosing sources like nuts, seeds, and olive oil.

The DASH diet also recommends limiting sodium to no more than 2,300 milligrams per day, or 1,500 milligrams per day for those with high blood pressure or at risk for it. The diet encourages reducing or avoiding foods high in saturated and trans fats, added sugars, and refined carbohydrates.

Research has shown that following the DASH diet can help lower blood pressure, reduce the risk of heart disease, and improve overall health.