Preventing Heart Disease
The DASH Diet

This eating plan is from the "Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension" (DASH) clinical study. The research was funded by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI), with additional support by the National Center for Research Resources and the Office of Research on Minority Health, all units of the National Institutes of Health (US). The results show that the DASH "combination diet" lowered blood pressure and, so, may help prevent and control high blood pressure.

The "combination diet" is rich in fruits, vegetables, and low fat dairy foods, and low in saturated and total fat. It also is low in cholesterol, high in dietary fiber, potassium, calcium, and magnesium, and moderately high in protein.

The DASH eating plan shown below is based on 2,000 calories a day. Depending on your caloric needs, your number of daily servings in a food group may vary from those listed.

Food Group Daily Servings Serving Sizes Examples and Notes Significance of each Food Group
Grains & grain products 7 to 8 1 slice bread, 1/2 cup dry cereal, 1/2 cup cooked rice, pasta, or cereal whole wheat bread, English muffin, pita bread, bagel, cereals, grits, oatmeal major sources of energy and fiber
Vegetables 4 to 5 1 cup raw leafy vegetable, 1/2 cup cooked vegetable, 6 oz. vegetable juice tomatoes, potatoes, carrots, peas, squash, broccoli, turnip greens, collards, kale, spinach, artichokes, sweet potatoes, beans rich sources of potassium, magnesium, and fiber
Fruits 4 to 5 6 oz. fruit juice, 1 medium fruit, 1/4 cup dried fruit, 1/2 cup fresh, frozen, or canned fruit apricots, bananas, dates, oranges, orange juice, grapefruit, grapefruit juice, mangoes, melons, peaches, pineapples, prunes, raisins, strawberries, tangerines important sources of potassium, magnesium, and fiber
Low fat or nonfat dairy foods 2 to 3 8 oz. milk, 1 cup yogurt, 1.5 oz. cheese skim or 1% milk, skim or low fat buttermilk, nonfat or low fat yogurt, part skim mozzarella cheese, nonfat cheese major sources of calcium and protein
Meats, poultry, and fish 2 or less 3 oz. cooked meats, poultry, or fish select only lean; trim away visible fats; broil, roast, or boil, instead of frying; remove skin from poultry rich sources of protein and magnesium
Nuts, seeds, and legumes 4 to 5 per week 1.5 oz. or 1/3 cup nuts, 1/2 oz. or 2 Tbsp seeds, 1/2 cup cooked legumes almonds, filberts, mixed nuts, peanuts, walnuts, sunflower seeds, kidney beans, lentils rich sources of energy, magnesium, potassium, protein, and fiber


Start small. Make gradual changes in your eating habits.

Center your meal around carbohydrates, such as pasta, rice, beans, or vegetables.

Treat meat as one part of the whole meal, instead of the focus.

Use fruits or low fat, low-calorie foods such as sugar-free gelatin for desserts and snacks.

REMEMBER! If you use the DASH diet to help prevent or control high blood pressure, make it 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.

Source: National Institutes of Health

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