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Understanding The DASH Diet

What’s special about the DASH Diet?

Research has shown that the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) Diet is a very effective eating plan to help lower blood pressure.

The DASH approach encourages a high intake of fruits and vegetables (8-10 servings each day); a regular intake of low-fat and non-fat dairy foods (2-3 servings each day); and small servings of meat, poultry and fish (up to 2 servings each day).

Boost Your Nutrition!

A diet rich in potassium, calcium and magnesium can play an important role in achieving healthy blood pressure. Eat the following foods regularly to increase the nutritional value of your diet:

  • Fresh Vegetables & Fruits: choose fresh, frozen or no-salt added canned vegetables whenever possible. Great choices include: broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, green leafy vegetables, oranges, bananas, melons, apples, pears and peaches.
  • Low-fat Dairy Foods: choose non-fat or 1% milk, yogurt, fat-reduced cheese. If you have trouble digesting dairy foods, try taking lactase enzyme pills or drops with the dairy foods. Many lactose-free products are available. Look for calcium and Vitamin D fortified soy milk or lactose-free milk (such as Lactaid).
  • Whole Grains: choose whole grain breads, cereals, wheat germ, bran and oats to get added nutrients, such as minerals and fiber.

Getting Started

Make gradual changes

  • Start with your vegetable intake… add to your typical daily meals an extra serving of vegetables at lunch and another serving at dinner.
  • If you don’t eat fruit now or have only juice at breakfast, add a serving to your meals or have it as a snack.
  • Gradually increase your use of fat-free and low-fat dairy foods to two to three servings a day. For example, drink milk with lunch or dinner instead of soda, sugar-sweetened tea or alcohol. Choose lowfat (1%) or fat-free (skim) dairy products to reduce your intake of saturated fat, total fat, cholesterol and calories containing ingredients. Most restaurants are willing to accommodate requests.
  • Know your terms: words like “pickled,” “cured,” “soy sauce” and “ broth” indicate a higher sodium content.
  • Move the salt shaker away. Choose pepper or salt-free seasonings instead.
  • Limit condiments such as mustard, catsup, pickles and sauces with salt-containing ingredients.
  • Choose fruits or vegetables instead of salty snack foods.

What about desserts and snacks?

  • Fruits and other low-fat foods offer great taste and variety. Use fruits canned in their own juice. Fresh fruits require little or no preparation. Dried fruits are a good choice to carry with you or to have in the car.
  • Try these snack ideas: unsalted pretzels or nuts mixed with raisins; graham crackers; low fat or fat-free frozen yogurt; and popcorn with no-salt or butter added. Best option: a variety of raw vegetables.

DASH diet logo

What’s a Serving?

Examples of 1 Serving

* Serving sizes are based on DASH Diet, but modified to reflect diabetic “exchanges.”

Grains and Grain Products

(aim for 7 - 8 servings a day)

1 slice bread

3/4 cup dry cereal

1/3 cup cooked rice, pasta or beans*

Low-fat or Fat-free Dairy

(aim for 2 - 3 servings a day)

1 cup fat-free or 1% milk

1 cup calcium-fortified soy milk

1 cup non-fat or low-fat yogurt

1 oz. non-fat or low-fat cheese*

Snacks and Sweets

(aim for 5 servings a week)

1 medium fruit

1 cup low-fat yogurt

1/2 cup low-fat frozen yogurt

3/4 cup pretzels

1 Tbsp. Maple syrup, sugar, jelly or jam

3 pieces hard candy


(aim for 4 - 5 servings a day)

1 cup raw leafy vegetables

1/2 cup raw non-leafy vegetables

1/2 cup cooked vegetables

3/4 cup vegetable juice

Meats, Poultry and Fish

(aim for 2 or less servings a day)

3 oz. Broiled or roasted lean meat, skinless poultry or seafood Nuts, Seeds, Beans (4 - 5 servings a week)

1/3 cup cooked beans*

1/3 cup unsalted nuts (almonds, walnuts, pecans)

2 Tbsp. Sunflower seeds or peanut butter


(aim for 4 - 5 servings a day)

1/2 cup fruit juice*

1 medium piece of fruit

1/2 cup fresh, frozen or canned fruit

2-4 Tbsp. dried fruit*

Added Fats, Oils and Salad Dressings

(aim for 2 - 3 servings a day)

1 tsp. oil or soft margarine

1 tsp. regular mayonnaise

1 Tbsp. low-fat mayonnaise

1 Tbsp. regular salad dressing

2 Tbsp. light salad dressing

Dash Diet - Menus

1/2 cup bran cereal

1 small banana

1 cup fat-free milk


1/2 cup regular oatmeal,

with 1 tsp cinnamon

and sugar substitute

1/2 English muffin

2 Tbsp raisins

1 cup fat-free milk

1 Tbsp fat-free cream cheese

3 oz turkey breast

2 slices wheat bread

8 oz skim milk

1 lg leaf romaine lettuce

2 slices tomato

2 tsp low fat mayonnaise

1 Tbsp Dijon mustard

1 cup carrot sticks

1 medium orange


1/2 cup tuna salad

1 lg leaf romaine lettuce

2 slices wheat bread

1/2 cup 1% or 2% cottage cheese

1 cup canned pineapple (unsweetened)

4 small celery sticks

2 Tbsp fat-free ranch dressing

3 oz. Turkey meatloaf

1 Tbsp catsup

1 small baked potato

1 tsp soft margarine

1 Tbsp low fat sour cream

1 scallion stalk, chopped

1 cup collard greens, cooked from frozen

1 medium peach

1 cup fat free milk


3 oz white fish

1 tsp lemon juice

2/3 cup brown rice, long grain

1/2 cup spinach, cooked

1 small corn bread muffin

1 tsp soft margarine 

(2-3 servings/day)

1 cup non-fat fruit yogurt (no sugar added)

2 - 4 Tbsp raisins or other dried fruit

2 - 3 graham cracker squares with 1 Tbsp peanut butter

1/3 cup almonds or other unsalted nuts