The DASH Diet: A Complete Overview and what you can eat

Know how DASH can help you lower your blood pressure and improve your health.

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We are continually inundated with diets that emphasize what we shouldn’t consume, from the keto to the paleo. However, the DASH diet is the best option if you want to stick to a dash diet recipes eating strategy that is advised by a specialist and improves both your heart health and healthy, enduring habits.

For years, experts have endorsed the DASH diet since it emphasizes the items you should be eating and doesn’t eliminate any significant nutrient groups. It all comes down to preparing scrumptious dash diet meal plan that fuels your body and creates long-lasting healthy habits.

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Want to know more? Here is all the information you need to know about the dash diet plan, including what it can do for you and how to start. here’s dash diet food list

What is the DASH diet, exactly?

The DASH diet stands for Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension, and it was developed to help lower blood pressure without medication. The DASH Diet Mediterranean Solution was written by Marla Heller, M.S., R.D., and features a guide to the latest science and research, meal plans, recipes, and expert-backed strategies to help you succeed on the plan.

Much like the equally science-backed Mediterranean diet, the DASH diet emphasizes fish, poultry, whole grains, fiber-rich veggies and fruits, low-fat or nonfat dairy, legumes, nuts, vegetable oils, and seeds. The diet suggests limiting sugar-sweetened beverages, sweets, and saturated fats, like fatty meats, full-fat dairy, and tropical oils.

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What makes the DASH diet specifically great for people with hypertension is that it caps sodium at 2,300 milligrams a day and encourages sticking to 1,500 milligrams per day—which is in line with the American Heart Association’s recommendations.

The full-body benefits of the DASH diet

The success of the DASH diet took off when the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute funded research on the benefits of the eating plan and found that it significantly lowered blood pressure and reduced the risk of heart disease in study participants. Because of this, U.S. News & World Reporthas consistently ranked the DASH diet as one of the top diets to follow for overall well-being.

Time and time again, research backs the DASH diet. In one 2020 meta-analysis published in the journal Advances in Nutrition that included 30 randomized controlled trials, researchers found the plan significantly improved blood pressure numbers in adults with and without hypertension.

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The DASH diet can also aid in overall heart health. In a 2019 study from the American Journal of Preventative Medicine, researchers followed over 4,000 participants for 13 years to compare their diet (from self-reported food-frequency questionnaires) and their incidents of heart failure. They found the DASH diet was beneficial in preventing heart failure in participants younger than 75 years old.

Moreover, the DASH diet can help a person maintain a healthy weight. In a 2018 study from the American Heart Association, 129 overweight or obese women and men who had high blood pressure were divided into three groups. The first group was randomly assigned the DASH diet with a weight management program and exercise plan; the second group followed the DASH diet with the guidance of a nutritionist; and the third group didn’t change their eating or exercise habits.

By the end of the 16 weeks, researchers found that those following the DASH diet and the weight management exercise plan lost an average of 19 pounds and significantly reduced their blood pressure. Those who followed the DASH eating plan alone decreased their blood pressure levels, and the participants who didn’t change their diet or exercise habits at all found minimal blood pressure decline.

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There’s even some research that points to the DASH diet as a veggie-forward option to protect against cancer risk. A 2019 study published in the journal Annals of Epidemiology suggests a higher diet quality, like that of the DASH diet, could lower risk for high aggressive prostate cancer.

Are there any cons of the DASH diet?

The DASH diet focuses on foods you’re already incorporating in your diet and teaches life-long habits to make heart-healthy decisions. Because of this, there aren’t many cons to giving it a try. The one downside is, unlike diets that come with pre-packaged snacks and meals, the DASH diet does require some heavy lifting on the follower’s part. Creating a meal plan that follows the daily serving goals, meal prepping, cooking, and shopping for ingredients can be very time consuming and somewhat pricey for the average person. It’s important to have a plan in place to make the DASH diet a sustainable option for your time and budget.

Unless you’re a competitive athlete who loses a lot of sweat, a worker who is exposed to major heat, or have been advised by your doctor to not drop your sodium intake, there shouldn’t be a concern about too little salt in your diet. According to the American Heart Association, the body needs only a small amount of sodium a day to function (about 500 milligrams), and very few people come close to that when planning meals.

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What foods do you eat on the DASH diet?

There’s a variety of delicious foods you’ll eat on the DASH diet to not only lower your blood pressure but also improve insulin sensitivity and reduce triglyceride levels (a type of fat in the blood). Here’s a list of foods encouraged on the plan:

  • Whole grains, such as brown rice, quinoa, farro, and freekeh
  • Fruits, including berries, apples, oranges, and pears
  • Vegetables
  • Low-fat or non-fat dairy
  • Lean meats, fish, and poultry
  • Nuts, seeds, legumes
  • Healthy fats, like extra-virgin olive oil, avocado, and nuts and seeds

What foods should you limit on the DASH diet?

The DASH diet doesn’t cut out any food groups or types of food. Certain foods should be enjoyed in moderation, and the DASH diet meal plan breaks down the maximum allowance for these foods. Here’s a list of foods to limit:

  • Foods high in salt, like processed foods or restaurant meals
  • Foods high in saturated fats such as fatty meats, full-fat dairy, and tropical oils such as coconut, palm kernel, and palm oils
  • Sweets (These include artificial sweeteners, sugar-sweetened beverages, and sugar-free candies)
  • Excessive alcohol (no more than one drink a day for women and two a day for men)

Your sample DASH diet menu

Wondering what an ideal day of eating looks like? Check out a sample of the 1,600-calorie and 2,000-calorie meal plans below.

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Grains and grain products

  • 2,000-calorie diet: 6 to 8 servings per day
  • 1,600-calorie diet: 5 to 6 servings per day
  • Serving size: 1 slice of bread, 1 ounce of whole grain cereal (serving sizes may vary), 1/2 cup cooked brown rice, whole-wheat pasta, or another whole grain
  • Good food examples: whole-wheat bread, whole grain cereal, popcorn, steel-cut oatmeal


  • 2,000-calorie diet: 4 to 5 servings per day
  • 1,600-calorie diet: 3 to 4 servings per day
  • Serving size: 4-ounce veggie juice, 1 cup raw leafy vegetables, 1/2 cup cut-up raw or cooked veggies
  • Good food examples: tomatoes, squash, broccoli, spinach, sweet potatoes, green beans, carrots, collards, kale, lima beans, potatoes

Lean meats, poultry, eggs, and fish

  • 2,000-calorie diet: 6 or fewer servings per day
  • 1,600-calorie diet: 3 to 4 servings or less per day
  • Serving size: 1-ounce cooked meats, poultry, or fish, or 1 egg (limit egg yolks to no more than 4 per week; 2 egg whites are equivalent to 1 ounce of meat in protein). Be sure to trim away skin and fat from poultry and meat. Opt to bake, broil, grill, or roast meat instead of frying.
  • Good food examples: skinless chicken or turkey, salmon, tuna, trout, lean cuts of beef, pork, and lamb


  • 2,000-calorie diet: 4 to 5 servings per day
  • 1,600-calorie diet: 4 servings per day
  • Serving size: 1 medium fruit, ¼ cup unsweetened dried fruit, 1/2 cup fresh, frozen, or canned fruit
  • Good food examples: apricots, bananas, grapes, oranges, grapefruit juice, raisins, strawberries

Low-fat or fat-free dairy

  • 2,000-calorie diet: 2 to 3 servings per day
  • 1,600-calorie diet: 2 to 3 servings per day
  • Serving size: 8 oz (1 cup) skim or 1 percent milk or low-fat yogurt, 1 1/2 ounces part-skim cheese
  • Good food examples: fat-free or low-fat milk, cheese, yogurt, fortified soy beverage, lactose-free product

Nuts, seeds, and legumes

  • 2,000-calorie diet: 4 to 5 servings per week
  • 1,600-calorie diet: 3 to 4 servings per week
  • Serving size: 1/3 cup unsalted nuts, 2 tablespoons nut butter, 2 tablespoons seeds, 1/2 cup cooked legumes
  • Good food examples: almonds, peanuts, sunflower seeds, kidney beans, lentils


  • 2,000-calorie diet: 2 to 3 servings per day
  • 1,600-calorie diet: 1 to 2 servings per day
  • Serving size: 1 teaspoon soft margarine or oil, 1 tablespoon mayonnaise, 2 tablespoons salad dressing
  • Good food examples: soft margarine, vegetable oil (such as canola, olive, or safflower oil), low-fat mayonnaise, light salad dressing. Be sure to read salad dressing labels because some fat-free and low-fat dressings load up on sugar to make up for the missing fat.

Sweets and added sugars

  • 2,000-calorie diet: 5 or fewer servings per week
  • 1,600-calorie diet: 3 or fewer servings per week
  • Serving size: 1 tablespoon sugar, jelly or jam, 1/2 cup sorbet or gelatin, 8 ounces (1 cup) lemonade
  • Good food examples: fruit-flavored gelatin, fruit punch, hard candy, jelly, maple syrup, sorbet and ices, sugar

How to get started on the DASH Diet

Before you start a new eating plan, talk to your doctor to make the best choices for your body. They can assess your blood pressure, weight, and heart disease risk factors to determine the right plan for you. Be sure to also discuss any medications you may be taking with your doctor and how the plan may affect them. Do not stop taking any medications that control high blood pressure or cholesterol without supervision.

To get started, assess where you are now in your health journey. Consider talking with your doctor, dietitian, or using an online body weight planner to plan your calorie goals to maintain or lose weight. Consider filling out the What’s On Your Plate worksheet, which helps you determine where you’re at and work toward hitting your daily goals.

Then, begin to plan your meals for your first week. You’ll want to do some research for DASH-approved recipes, and you may want to start with the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institutes’ first week meal plan or shop for a DASH diet cookbook. Make a grocery list based on the above list and your weekly meal plan and aim to hit your target each day. Of course, don’t worry if some days are off. Do your best to keep the average day close to your goals.

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Lastly, be sure to assess other lifestyle factors: Do your best to manage stress, limit alcohol intake, get plenty of sleep, quit smoking, and be physically active. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention recommends at least 150 minutes a week of moderate-intensity aerobic activity and two days a week of muscle-strengthening activities.

Thanks preventions for this information

DASH stands for Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension. The DASH diet is a healthy-eating plan designed to help treat or prevent high blood pressure (hypertension).

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The DASH diet includes foods that are rich in potassium, calcium and magnesium. These nutrients help control blood pressure. The diet limits foods that are high in sodium, saturated fat and added sugars.

Studies have shown that the DASH diet can lower blood pressure in as little as two weeks. The diet can also lower low-density lipoprotein (LDL or “bad”) cholesterol levels in the blood. High blood pressure and high LDL cholesterol levels are two major risk factors for heart disease and stroke.

DASH diet and sodium

The DASH diet is lower in sodium than a typical American diet, which can include a whopping 3,400 milligrams (mg) of sodium or more a day.

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The standard DASH diet limits sodium to 2,300 mg a day. It meets the recommendation from the Dietary Guidelines for Americans to keep daily sodium intake to less than 2,300 mg a day. That’s roughly the amount of sodium in 1 teaspoon of table salt.

A lower sodium version of DASH restricts sodium to 1,500 mg a day. You can choose the version of the diet that meets your health needs. If you aren’t sure what sodium level is right for you, talk to your doctor.

DASH diet: What to eat

The DASH diet is a flexible and balanced eating plan that helps create a heart-healthy eating style for life. It’s easy to follow using foods found at your grocery store.

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The DASH diet is rich in vegetables, fruits and whole grains. It includes fat-free or low-fat dairy products, fish, poultry, beans and nuts. It limits foods that are high in saturated fat, such as fatty meats and full-fat dairy products.

When following DASH, it is important to choose foods that are:

  • Rich in potassium, calcium, magnesium, fiber and protein
  • Low in saturated fat
  • Low in sodium

DASH diet: Recommended servings

The DASH diet provides daily and weekly nutritional goals. The number of servings you should have depends on your daily calorie needs.

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Here’s a look at the recommended servings from each food group for a 2,000-calorie-a-day DASH diet:

  • Grains: 6 to 8 servings a day. One serving is one slice bread, 1 ounce dry cereal, or 1/2 cup cooked cereal, rice or pasta.
  • Vegetables: 4 to 5 servings a day. One serving is 1 cup raw leafy green vegetable, 1/2 cup cut-up raw or cooked vegetables, or 1/2 cup vegetable juice.
  • Fruits: 4 to 5 servings a day. One serving is one medium fruit, 1/2 cup fresh, frozen or canned fruit, or 1/2 cup fruit juice.
  • Fat-free or low-fat dairy products: 2 to 3 servings a day. One serving is 1 cup milk or yogurt, or 1 1/2 ounces cheese.
  • Lean meats, poultry and fish: six 1-ounce servings or fewer a day. One serving is 1 ounce cooked meat, poultry or fish, or 1 egg.
  • Nuts, seeds and legumes: 4 to 5 servings a week. One serving is 1/3 cup nuts, 2 tablespoons peanut butter, 2 tablespoons seeds, or 1/2 cup cooked legumes (dried beans or peas).
  • Fats and oils: 2 to 3 servings a day. One serving is 1 teaspoon soft margarine, 1 teaspoon vegetable oil, 1 tablespoon mayonnaise or 2 tablespoons salad dressing.
  • Sweets and added sugars: 5 servings or fewer a week. One serving is 1 tablespoon sugar, jelly or jam, 1/2 cup sorbet, or 1 cup lemonade.

Take aim at sodium

The foods at the center of the DASH diet are naturally low in sodium. So just by following the DASH diet, you’re likely to lower your intake of sodium.

You can further reduce sodium by:

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  • Using sodium-free spices or flavorings instead of salt
  • Not adding salt when cooking rice, pasta or hot cereal
  • Choosing plain fresh, frozen or canned vegetables
  • Choosing fresh or frozen skinless poultry, fish, and lean cuts of meat
  • Reading food labels and choosing low-sodium or no-salt-added options

As you cut back on processed, high-sodium foods, you may notice that food tastes different. It may take time for your palate to adjust. But once it does, you may find you prefer the DASH way of eating.

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