The DASH Diet
Your Guide to Lowering Your Blood Pressure with the DASH Diet Eating Plan
- DASH diet facts
- What is the DASH eating plan?
- What is high blood pressure?
- What are the benefits of the DASH eating plan?
- Following the DASH eating plan
- The DASH eating plan as part of a heart healthy lifestyle
- Maintain a healthy weight
- Be physically active
- Make healthy eating choices
- Don't smoke
- Getting started on the DASH eating plan
- More helpful DASH tips
- How to deal with challenges and setback on the DASH diet
- Salt FAQs
- Find a local Doctor in your town
DASH diet facts
- Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) is a flexible and
balanced eating plan that has been shown to lower high blood pressure.
- The DASH eating plan:
- The DASH eating plan also is lower in sodium (salt) than the typical
American diet. This is because eating less sodium can help lower blood
- Following the DASH eating plan and eating less sodium can lower your
risk of high blood pressure. If you already have high blood pressure,
following the DASH eating plan and eating less sodium can lower your blood
- If you take medicines to control your high blood pressure, keep taking
them. However, you should tell your doctor that you're now following the
DASH eating plan.
- The DASH eating plan is easy to follow using common foods available in
your grocery store. The plan includes daily servings from different food
groups. The number of servings you should have depends on your daily calorie
- Making other heart healthy lifestyle changes while following the DASH
eating plan is the best way to prevent and control high blood pressure. For
example, try to maintain a healthy weight, be physically active, make
healthy eating choices, and don't smoke.
- To get started on the DASH eating plan, make changes over a few days or
weeks. This will give you a chance to adjust to the changes and make them
part of your daily routine.
- You may stray from the DASH eating plan or your other lifestyle changes. If so, don't let it keep you from reaching your health goals. Ask yourself why you got off track, and start again with the DASH eating plan. Make small changes so you don't overwhelm yourself. Write down what you eat and the amount of physical activity you do each day. Celebrate meeting your goals with something you would like to do, not with food.
What is the DASH eating plan?
Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) is a flexible and balanced eating plan that has been shown to lower high blood pressure.
The DASH eating plan was one of three eating plans that were compared in research studies sponsored by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI). The goal of this research was to study the effects of diet on high blood pressure.
The results of the research showed that the DASH eating plan lowers blood pressure. The plan:
- Is low in saturated fat, cholesterol, and total fat
- Focuses on fruits, vegetables, and fat-free or low-fat milk and milk
- Is rich in whole grains, fish, poultry, beans, seeds, and nuts
- Contains fewer sweets, added sugars and sugary beverages, and red meats than the typical American diet
The DASH eating plan also is lower in sodium (salt) than the typical American diet. This is because eating less sodium can help lower blood pressure.
The DASH research showed that an eating plan containing 2,300 milligrams (mg) of sodium per day lowered blood pressure. An eating plan containing only 1,500 mg of sodium per day even further lowered blood pressure.
The "Dietary Guidelines for Americans" advise people who have high blood pressure, African Americans, and middle-aged and older adults to aim for no more than 1,500 mg of sodium per day.
The DASH eating plan also includes foods rich in potassium, such as fruits and vegetables. In general, potassium should come only from food sources and not supplements. For a list of the potassium content of selected foods, visit http://www.ars.usda.gov/SP2UserFiles/Place/12354500/Data/SR22/ nutrlist/sr22w306.pdf.
Reduced-sodium products and salt substitutes likely contain potassium chloride as a main ingredient. Potassium chloride may harm people who have certain medical conditions, such as kidney disease and diabetes. Check with your doctor before trying reduced-sodium products and salt substitutes that contain potassium chloride.
You can limit salt intake without using salt substitutes. For example, use herbs and spices to add flavor to foods. For examples of how to season foods without using salt, visit the NHLBI's Flavor That Food Web page.
Below is a table that shows the daily nutrient goals, including potassium, used in the DASH studies.
Daily Nutrient Goals Used in the DASH Studies (for a 2,000-Calorie Eating Plan)
|Total fat||27% of calories|
|Saturated fat||6% of calories|
|Protein||18% of calories|
|Carbohydrate||55% of calories|
* 1,500 mg of sodium was a lower goal tested and found to be even better for lowering blood pressure. It worked very well for middle-aged and older adults, African Americans, and people who already had high blood pressure.
g = grams; mg = milligrams
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