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The DASH eating plan
to control high blood pressure
What does DASH stand for?
DASH stands for Dietary Approach to Stop Hypertension (high blood
pressure). The DASH eating plan is similar to other healthy eating plans. It
is LOW in cholesterol, saturated fats, and total fat. It is HIGH in whole
grains, vegetables, fruit, low-fat and non-fat dairy products, nuts and seeds,
legumes (dried beans or peas), fish, and lean poultry.
The foods on the DASH eating plan are also high in calcium, potassium,
and magnesium. Not getting enough of these important nutrients from the
food in your diet can contribute to high blood pressure.
Even DASH was developed to help people prevent complications from
high blood pressure, nearly everyone can benefit from following the
guidelines recommended by DASH.
What does a daily DASH eating plan look like?
The following table offers general information to help you plan your meals
using DASH guidelines:
Food group
Whole grains
and grain
Number of
6 to 8 servings
per day
serving size
1 slice of bread
1 oz dry cereal
(approx ¾ cup)
½ cup cooked
rice, pasta, or
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Why they’re
Major source of
energy and fiber
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Food group
Number of
Minimum of 4
to 5 servings
per day
serving size
4 to 5 servings
per day
Good source of
and fiber
Important source of
calcium and protein
8 oz milk
1 cup yogurt
1 ½ oz cheese
⅓ cup or
Major source of
energy, magnesium,
potassium, protein,
and fiber
3 oz cooked
fish, poultry
or meat
Rich in protein and
2 to 3 servings
per day
Nuts, seeds,
and legumes
(dry beans or
4 to 5 servings
per week
Fish, poultry
and lean
2 or less
per day
1 cup raw leafy Rich in potassium,
magnesium, and
½ cup cooked
½ cup
vegetable juice
1 medium fruit
¼ cup dried
½ cup fresh,
frozen, or
canned fruit
½ cup fruit
juice (limit to
one serving
per day)
Low-fat or
non-fat dairy
Why they’re
1 ½ oz nuts
2 Tbsp or
½ oz seeds
½ cup cooked
legumes, such
as lentils and
dry beans
or peas
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Food group
Fats and oils
Number of
2 to 3 servings
per day
5 or less
per week
serving size
Why they’re
1 tsp olive,
canola, or
vegetable oil
2 Tbsp light
salad dressing
1 tsp soft
1 Tbsp low-fat
Many oils, such as
olive, canola, and
peanut oils are heart
Use them in
moderation; they are
not low calorie.
Try to limit to 27%
of total calories,
including fat added
to prepared food.
1 Tbsp sugar
1 Tbsp jelly
or jam
½ cup fruit
sherbet or
1 cup lemonade
Eat sweets to satisfy
your sweet tooth,
but eat in
moderation. Choose
treats that are low
in fat.
Some tips to help you meet your DASH goals:
Include something from each food group at every meal to help you meet
your DASH goals. Make the most of your snacks by choosing fruits or
vegetables, non-fat or low-fat dairy, nuts or whole-grains. Here are some
ideas that might help:
 Have a bowl of whole-grain cereal, such as bran flakes or oatmeal.
 Add non-fat milk and top with blueberries or raisins.
 Choose 100% whole grain bread for toast and spread it with thin layer of
peanut butter.
 Stir a handful of crunchy low-fat granola into creamy non-fat yogurt.
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 Choose whole grains for bread and crackers.
 Slice skinless turkey or chicken breast, or mix water-packed tuna, with
non-fat or low-fat mayonnaise and Dijon mustard for sandwiches
 Try fruit, such as a melon wedge, topped with non-fat Greek yogurt.
 Spread hummus on whole-wheat pita bread. Top with fresh spinach and
tomato slices.
 Slice an apple and sprinkle with lemon juice and cinnamon.
 Munch on snap peas and carrot and celery sticks dipped in low-fat ranch
 Sip low-sodium vegetable juice over ice with a slice of lime for an
afternoon pick-me-up.
 Make a snack mix of whole-grain cereal, toasted nuts, and raisins.
 Roast or broil chicken or turkey breast. Remove the skin before eating.
 Serve fish once or twice a week. Bake, steam, grill, or broil; avoid frying.
 Choose wild rice or whole-wheat pasta instead of white rice and
white pasta.
 Roast colorful bell peppers, onions, or asparagus in a little canola oil.
 Toss a salad of fresh lettuce, sliced cucumbers, cherry tomatoes, and serve
with low-fat dressing.
Desserts and treats:
 Slice up fruit, like pineapple or melon, and store in the refrigerator to
have handy for snacks and dessert.
 Enjoy a bowl of non-fat frozen dessert, such as fruit sorbet, topped with
fresh blueberries.
 Try angel food cake with fat-free frozen vanilla yogurt and sliced
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Dining out:
 Choose menu items that are high in nutrients and low in fat, such as a
baked potato and broiled chicken breast.
 Instead of ordering an entrée, have a lighter meal by ordering an appetizer
and a salad with low-fat dressing. Watch out for high-fat salad toppings
such as croutons and bacon bits.
 Avoid buffets and all-you-can-eat style restaurants.
 Skip dessert. If you do want a sweet treat after dinner, share it with
What other steps can I take to control my
blood pressure?
 Don't use tobacco. If you do use tobacco products quit.
 Be physically active. Try to get at least 30 minutes of physical activity on
most days of the week.
 If you drink alcoholic beverages, do so in moderation.
 If you are taking medication to lower your blood pressure, be sure to take
it as directed.
The information presented in this pamphlet was adapted from material from the U.S.
Department of Health and Human Services, National Institutes of Health and the National
Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute.
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Rev. date 2013275
© 2013 Group Health Cooperative