The DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) diet is an eating plan used to reduce blood pressure. Studies have shown dramatic results, in that the DASH diet can lower blood pressure in as little as 2 weeks It’s a diet reduced in total and saturated fat and rich in fruits, vegetables, and low-fat dairy foods can significantly lower blood pressure.
How to follow the DASH diet
Serving sizes and choices
To help you follow the DASH diet, the list below suggests the number of servings per day from each of the indicated food groups. These servings apply to people who require 2000 calories per day. The number of servings may increase or decrease depending on your caloric needs, which vary according to age, gender, size, and how active you are.
7-8 servings Whole Grains and Whole Grain Products per day
4-5 servings Vegetables per day
4-5 servings Fruits per day
2-3 servings Low fat or Nonfat Dairy Foods per day
2 or fewer servings of Meats, Poultry and Fish per day
4-5 servings Nuts, Seeds and Legumes per week
Limit intake of fats and sweets
Tips on eating the DASH way
Start small: Make gradual changes in your eating habits
Most people find it hard to make changes in their diet if they try to do too much too fast. Start slow. You are more likely to have your healthier habits be lasting ones if you make small changes that you can realistically maintain.
Treat meat as one part of the whole meal, instead of the focus
Although meat contains protein and other nutrients, which are good for your body, it also has a lot of fat, including saturated fat, calories and cholesterol. Often people have a large portion of meat as a main course and don’t eat enough vegetables or grains.
Use fruits or low fat, low-calorie foods as desserts and snacks.
Many people enjoy snacks. This can be a healthy benefit to your diet if you choose the right kinds of foods. Instead of chips, cookies, candy bars, or high fat muffins, try foods such as fresh fruits, unsalted nuts with raisins, graham crackers, and raw vegetables.
If you use the DASH diet to help prevent or control high blood pressure, make it a part of a lifestyle that includes choosing foods lower in salt and sodium, keeping a healthy weight, being physically active and, if you drink alcohol, doing so in moderation.
Lisa Nelson RD, a registered dietitian since 1999, provides clients step-by-step guidance to lower cholesterol and lower blood pressure, so they can live life and enjoy their family for years to come. Because her own health is the foundation of her expertise, you can trust that Lisa will make it truly possible for you to see dramatic changes in your health, without unrealistic fads or impossibly difficult techniques. She can be found on Twitter @lisanelsonrd and Facebook at hearthealthmadeeasy.