DASH stands for Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension. It is a flexible eating plan that helps create a heart-healthy and maintainable way of eating.
The DASH diet emphasizes foods that are lower in sodium as well as foods that are rich in potassium, magnesium, and calcium — nutrients that help lower blood pressure.
Other components of the diet include:
- Consuming fruits, vegetables, and whole grains
- Incorporating fat-free or low-fat dairy products, beans, nuts, fish, and poultry
- Limiting saturated fats such as those found in full-fat dairy, fatty meats, and oils such as coconut and palm
- Restricting refined sugar and processed foods
It is best done in two stages- the DASH Diet phase 1 is a low-carbohydrate diet, with no fruit and whole grains, and lasts for 14 days. Phase 2 reintroduces carbohydrate-rich foods such as whole grains, legumes and fruit, while emphasizing a nutrient-dense diet.
The Dash Diet
What are the Benefits?
The main benefit of the DASH diet is to reduce blood pressure and reduce the risk of hypertension. However, there are some other benefits to following the diet including better kidney health (less sodium in your body means they won’t have to work as hard).
The DASH diet is easy to follow using common foods found at the grocery store and includes daily servings from various food groups.
Foods to Eat Phase 1
- Bell Peppers
Meat & Fish
- Lean beef
Dairy & Eggs
- Skinless Chicken
- Lean Ground Chicken
- 1% Greek Yogurt
Nuts & Seeds
- Chia seeds
- Linseed (flaxseed)
- Brazil nuts
- Cashew nuts
The DASH diet includes foods from different food groups, to create a balanced eating plan which is easy to follow.
Foods to Add in Phase 2
- Brown rice
- Bulgar wheat
- Pearl barley
- Wholegrain pasta
- Whole Wheat bread
- Black beans
- Black-eyed peas
- Red kidney beans
- Sweet potatoes
During phase 2 of the DASH diet it is recommended to incorporate whole grains, beans, and fruits into the diet.
10 Fundamental Principles of The Dash Diet
- More fruit and vegetables every day (including berries, cabbages, root vegetables, legumes, potatoes and herbs).
- More whole grain, especially oats, rye and barley
- More food from the sea and lakes
- Higher-quality meat, but less of it
- More food from wild landscapes
- Organic produce whenever possible
- Avoiding food additives
- More meals based on seasonal produce
- More home-cooked food
- Less waste
The first 14 days of the Dash Diet is Stage 1 and it is designed to help develop healthy eating habits for life, and regulate blood sugar. Avoid all starchy foods, fruits and whole grains, this will help regulate blood sugar and diminish cravings. You can enjoy 2-3 servings of low-fat dairy per day. Consume unlimited intake of non-starchy vegetables and include some protein-rich foods, such as lean meat, fish, low-fat cheese and nuts. Proteins work to prevent snacking and work to keep blood sugar levels stable because they help you feel full and satisfied.
After the first 14 days, you will continue to eat the foods from Phase 1 but re-introduce some other healthy foods that will help you continue improving your health. Here, you’ll reintroduce whole grains, fruits and complex carbohydrates, in healthy moderation. How long does Phase 2 last? It’s your life plan, so it should last forever so you can keep your blood pressure low and keep extra weight off.
The DASH diet may be an easy and effective way to manage high blood pressure.
It is endorsed by health organizations such as the American Heart Association (AHA), National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, and The 2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans.
If you have concerns regarding the DASH diet for yourself, consult with a medical professional for further information.
Kristen Kuminski, RD, CDN
Kristen is a consultant Dietitian with experience working with a variety of individuals and populations. Kristen has experience counseling/ coaching clients in eating disorders, pediatrics, weight management, mental health nutrition and other chronic health conditions.