The DASH Diet and Hypertension 
By: Xinjuan Baldwin

DASH stands for Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension. The DASH diet is a low-fat eating plan that is high in vegetables, fruits, and dairy foods with reduced amounts of red meat, sweets, and sugar-containing drinks. The DASH diet is proven to reduce blood pressure. Besides the role in lowering blood pressure, the DASH diet is generally a healthy eating plan which encourages nutrient-dense foods and cuts back on relatively unhealthy ones.

The DASH diet consists of:
• 6-8 servings of Grains per day -Whole grains are richer in fiber and nutrients than refined grains.
• 4-5 servings of Vegetables and Fruits per day, respectively - Most vegetables and fruits are high in potassium and magnesium. These two minerals aid in controlling and even lowering blood pressure.
• 2-3 servings of Dairy per day- Peptides derived from milk proteins, especially fermented milk products, have been shown to lower blood pressure.
• 6 or less servings of lean meat, poultry and fish per day – Eat fish which are high in Omega-3 fatty acids, such as salmon. Cut back on meats which contain a lot of fat and cholesterol.
• 4-5 servings of nuts, seeds and legumes per week - Nuts and seeds are usually high in magnesium, potassium, and sometimes protein in certain types. Still, they are high in calories as well, so they need to be consumed in moderation. Legumes, such as soy products, are good alternatives to meat.
Limit fats and oils to 2 to 3 servings per day – One serving of fat is about 1 teaspoon of butter or vegetable oil. Limit saturated fat and avoid trans- fat.
No more than 5 sweets per week - One serving of sweet is about 1 tablespoon of sugar. Use sugar substitutes instead of sugar, but still in moderation.

Often times, the DASH diet is prescribed along with a low sodium diet. Combining the DASH diet with a low sodium diet works better in reducing blood pressure than adopting either diet alone. The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) conducted a study on the DASH diet and released the results in 2001. The study concluded that either following the DASH diet or restricting sodium intake would generate significant health benefits. Moreover, the combination of the two would control blood pressure significantly more in general population. The effects on blood pressure from sodium reduction were particularly great for those with hypertension, African Americans, women, and those over age 45.

The DASH diet is an eating plan, which is rich in potassium, calcium, magnesium, fiber, and protein. Numerous studies have revealed the positive effects of the DASH diet on reducing blood pressure. For better results, restrict your dietary sodium intake when you are on the DASH diet eating plan.

1. Mahan, L. Kathleen, and Escott-Stump, Sylvia. (2008). Krause’s Food & Nutrition Therapy. 12th ed. St. Lois, MO: Saunders-Elsevier.
2. Mayo Clinic. (2010). DASH diet: Healthy eating to lower your blood pressure. . Retrieved Jan. 25, 2012, from
3. National Institute of Health. (2001). NHLBI Study Finds DASH Diet And Reduced Sodium Lowers Blood Pressure For All. Retrieved Jan. 25, 2012, from

Xinjuan J. Baldwin is the Senior Editor of Educational Fitness Solutions Monthly Nutrition Newsletter and is a graduate of the State University of New York with a B.S. in Nutrition and a minor in Personal Training. During college Xinjuan focused on working with children, older adults, the general populace, and families in need of nutrition and fitness consulting. Currently she is focusing her time on more specific nutrition related issues, such as proper sports nutrition implementation and how to manage weight via better eating habits. She also spends her time concentrating on posture and body alignment analysis and correction implementation within a fitness setting