ThisisPatientEngagementcontent

DASH Eating Plan

Learn more about our Patient Engagement products now! Turn your patients into active participants in their healthcare by giving them easy access to the same evidence-based information you trust – but delivered in an easy-to-understand format.

Jan.03.2024
DASH Eating Plan

DASH Eating Plan

DASH stands for Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension. The DASH eating plan is a healthy eating plan that has been shown to:
  • Lower high blood pressure (hypertension).
  • Reduce your risk for type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and stroke.
  • Help with weight loss.

What are tips for following this plan?

Reading food labels

  • Check food labels for the amount of salt (sodium) per serving. Choose foods with less than 5 percent of the Daily Value (DV) of sodium. In general, foods with less than 300 milligrams (mg) of sodium per serving fit into this eating plan.
  • To find whole grains, look for the word "whole" as the first word in the ingredient list.

Shopping

  • Buy products labeled as "low-sodium" or "no salt added."
  • Buy fresh foods. Avoid canned foods and pre-made or frozen meals.

Cooking

  • Try not to add salt when you cook. Use salt-free seasonings or herbs instead of table salt or sea salt. Check with your health care provider or pharmacist before using salt substitutes.
  • Do not fry foods. Cook foods in healthy ways, such as baking, boiling, grilling, roasting, or broiling.
  • Cook using oils that are good for your heart. These include olive, canola, avocado, soybean, and sunflower oil.

Meal planning

A plate with examples of foods in a healthy diet.
  • Eat a balanced diet. This should include:
    • 4 or more servings of fruits and 4 or more servings of vegetables each day. Try to fill half of your plate with fruits and vegetables.
    • 6–8 servings of whole grains each day.
    • 6 or less servings of lean meat, poultry, or fish each day. 1 oz is 1 serving. A 3 oz (85 g) serving of meat is about the same size as the palm of your hand. One egg is 1 oz (28 g).
    • 2–3 servings of low-fat dairy each day. One serving is 1 cup (237 mL).
    • 1 serving of nuts, seeds, or beans 5 times each week.
    • 2–3 servings of heart-healthy fats. Healthy fats called omega-3 fatty acids are found in foods such as walnuts, flaxseeds, fortified milks, and eggs. These fats are also found in cold-water fish, such as sardines, salmon, and mackerel.
  • Limit how much you eat of:
    • Canned or prepackaged foods.
    • Food that is high in trans fat, such as fried foods.
    • Food that is high in saturated fat, such as fatty meat.
    • Desserts and other sweets, sugary drinks, and other foods with added sugar.
    • Full-fat dairy products.
  • Do not salt foods before eating.
  • Do not eat more than 4 egg yolks a week.
  • Try to eat at least 2 vegetarian meals a week.
  • Eat more home-cooked food and less restaurant, buffet, and fast food.

Lifestyle

  • When eating at a restaurant, ask if your food can be made with less salt or no salt.
  • If you drink alcohol:
    • Limit how much you have to:
      • 0–1 drink a day if you are female.
      • 0–2 drinks a day if you are male.
    • Know how much alcohol is in your drink. In the U.S., one drink is one 12 oz bottle of beer (355 mL), one 5 oz glass of wine (148 mL), or one 1½ oz glass of hard liquor (44 mL).

General information

  • Avoid eating more than 2,300 mg of salt a day. If you have hypertension, you may need to reduce your sodium intake to 1,500 mg a day.
  • Work with your provider to stay at a healthy body weight or lose weight. Ask what the best weight range is for you.
  • On most days of the week, get at least 30 minutes of exercise that causes your heart to beat faster. This may include walking, swimming, or biking.
  • Work with your provider or dietitian to adjust your eating plan to meet your specific calorie needs.

What foods should I eat?

Fruits

All fresh, dried, or frozen fruit. Canned fruits that are in their natural juice and do not have sugar added to them.

Vegetables

Fresh or frozen vegetables that are raw, steamed, roasted, or grilled. Low-sodium or reduced-sodium tomato and vegetable juice. Low-sodium or reduced-sodium tomato sauce and tomato paste. Low-sodium or reduced-sodium canned vegetables.

Grains

Whole-grain or whole-wheat bread. Whole-grain or whole-wheat pasta. Brown rice. Oatmeal. Quinoa. Bulgur. Whole-grain and low-sodium cereals. Pita bread. Low-fat, low-sodium crackers. Whole-wheat flour tortillas.

Meats and other proteins

Skinless chicken or turkey. Ground chicken or turkey. Pork with fat trimmed off. Fish and seafood. Egg whites. Dried beans, peas, or lentils. Unsalted nuts, nut butters, and seeds. Unsalted canned beans. Lean cuts of beef with fat trimmed off. Low-sodium, lean precooked or cured meat, such as sausages or meat loaves.

Dairy

Low-fat (1%) or fat-free (skim) milk. Reduced-fat, low-fat, or fat-free cheeses. Nonfat, low-sodium ricotta or cottage cheese. Low-fat or nonfat yogurt. Low-fat, low-sodium cheese.

Fats and oils

Soft margarine without trans fats. Vegetable oil. Reduced-fat, low-fat, or light mayonnaise and salad dressings (reduced-sodium). Canola, safflower, olive, avocado, soybean, and sunflower oils. Avocado.

Seasonings and condiments

Herbs. Spices. Seasoning mixes without salt.

Other foods

Unsalted popcorn and pretzels. Fat-free sweets.

The items listed above may not be all the foods and drinks you can have. Talk to a dietitian to learn more.

What foods should I avoid?

Fruits

Canned fruit in a light or heavy syrup. Fried fruit. Fruit in cream or butter sauce.

Vegetables

Creamed or fried vegetables. Vegetables in a cheese sauce. Regular canned vegetables that are not marked as low-sodium or reduced-sodium. Regular canned tomato sauce and paste that are not marked as low-sodium or reduced-sodium. Regular tomato and vegetable juices that are not marked as low-sodium or reduced-sodium. Pickles. Olives.

Grains

Baked goods made with fat, such as croissants, muffins, or some breads. Dry pasta or rice meal packs.

Meats and other proteins

Fatty cuts of meat. Ribs. Fried meat. Bacon. Bologna, salami, and other precooked or cured meats, such as sausages or meat loaves, that are not lean and low in sodium. Fat from the back of a pig (fatback). Bratwurst. Salted nuts and seeds. Canned beans with added salt. Canned or smoked fish. Whole eggs or egg yolks. Chicken or turkey with skin.

Dairy

Whole or 2% milk, cream, and half-and-half. Whole or full-fat cream cheese. Whole-fat or sweetened yogurt. Full-fat cheese. Nondairy creamers. Whipped toppings. Processed cheese and cheese spreads.

Fats and oils

Butter. Stick margarine. Lard. Shortening. Ghee. Bacon fat. Tropical oils, such as coconut, palm kernel, or palm oil.

Seasonings and condiments

Onion salt, garlic salt, seasoned salt, table salt, and sea salt. Worcestershire sauce. Tartar sauce. Barbecue sauce. Teriyaki sauce. Soy sauce, including reduced-sodium soy sauce. Steak sauce. Canned and packaged gravies. Fish sauce. Oyster sauce. Cocktail sauce. Store-bought horseradish. Ketchup. Mustard. Meat flavorings and tenderizers. Bouillon cubes. Hot sauces. Pre-made or packaged marinades. Pre-made or packaged taco seasonings. Relishes. Regular salad dressings.

Other foods

Salted popcorn and pretzels.

The items listed above may not be all the foods and drinks you should avoid. Talk to a dietitian to learn more.

Where to find more information

This information is not intended to replace advice given to you by your health care provider. Make sure you discuss any questions you have with your health care provider.

;