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Dietary Approach to Stop Hypertension (DASH)

Fruits & Vegetables 

  • Eat green leafy vegetables (e.g. broccoli, spinach, kale, collard greens)
  • Eat a “colorful plate” i.e. foods of various color each day (e.g. red grapes, orange, kiwi, banana, bell peppers, squash) 

Dairy Products

  • Choose low fat or fat free versions (e.g. skim milk, low fat/fat free cheese)
  • Skim milk, 1% milk, and soy milk have less saturated fat than 2% or whole mil


  • Include walnuts, almonds, pecans, and other unsalted nuts in your diet as, good sources of fat (omega 3 and monounsaturated)
  • Choose “good” fats – olive oil & canola oil – for cooking oils
  • Decrease saturated fat by limiting red meat, butter, whole fat dairy products (e.g. ice cream, butter, cheese)
  • Eliminate trans fats (partially hydrogenated oils, found in foods such as commercially-prepared cookies, crackers, cake/brownie mixes) 

 Lean Meat / Protein 

  • Replace red meats with fish and poultry
  • Curb meat/protein intake to 6-7 oz a day
  • Include soy products (such astofu & tempeh); they are good sources of protein 


  • Choose fatty fish as a meal 2-3 times a week (e.g. salmon or mackerel) 


  • Increase legumes (e.g. chickpeas, hummus, black beans)
  • Use whole grains (e.g. brown rice, barley, old fashioned oats)
  • Increase whole grains, they have more fiber that can help decrease cholesterol 

Sugar – refined 

  • Reduce soda, candy, cookie consumption


How to achieve optimal blood pressure

Lose excess weight

  • As little as 10 pounds can make a difference!  Maintain normal body weight; BMI 18.5-24.9 kg/m2.
  • 1 lb fat = 3500 calories

Adopt DASH eating plan, discussed above

  • Consume a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, low-fat dairy, and low in saturated fat.

Limit Sodium

  • Keep sodium intake below 2,000 mg a day

1,500 mg a day is appropriate for people who are 51 years of age or older, are African-American, or have hypertension, diabetes or chronic kidney disease.One teaspoon of salt has about 2,400 mg sodium.

  • High sodium foods don’t always taste salty.  Check labels for the lowest-sodium brands. 

Walk Briskly

  • Engage in aerobic exercise for 30-45 minutes most days of the week.

Limit or eliminate alcohol

  • Men should limit alcohol to no more than 2 drinks a day.
  • Women should stop at 1 drink a day to cut their risk of breast cancer.

* Examples of 1 drink are: 12 oz beer, 5 oz wine, or 1.5 oz 80-proof whiskey 

 Get more potassium, magnesium and other nutrients

  • Strive to eat 5 servings of fruit and 5 servings of vegetable each day (1 serving is about ½ to 1 cup)

Reduce your intake of caffeine

  • Caffeine is found  in coffee, tea, chocolate, soda, and some medications

Manage your stress

  • Regular exercise, laughter, contact with friends and family, deep breathing, stretching, meditation, yoga, hugs, getting outside in nature, listening to soothing music, having a wonderful pet…  
    are all examples of ways to manage stress and lower blood pressure 

Adapted from: the Seventh Report of the Joint National Committee on Prevention, Detection, Evaluation, and Treatment of High Blood Pressure (JNC7)References:  The DASH Eating Plan-US Department of Health and Human Services, –Am J Hypertens. 2003 May;16(5 Pt 1):337-42.Additional source: