What is the DASH High Blood Pressure Diet

When the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) conducted a National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey between 2017 to 2018, results showed a surge in hypertension in adults across the U.S., up to 45.4%. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), approximately 47% of all adults in the United States currently live with high blood pressure, also known as hypertension.

Medicare Benefits Solutions

Apr 6, 2022

timer 5 minutes read

DASH Diet Plan

While some patients may need medication to help manage their hypertension, research shows that dietary changes may help lower your blood pressure. The DASH diet came out of a landmark study called Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension. The DASH Collaborative Research Group set out to assess the impact of dietary patterns on blood pressure. It has been proven that a diet rich in fruits, vegetables and low-fat dairy foods and with reduced saturated and total fat can help lower blood pressure.


Preventing and treating hypertension can help patients avoid more serious complications. The CDC advises that “lowering blood pressure has been shown to decrease the incidences of stroke, heart attack and heart failure.” If you’ve been diagnosed with high blood pressure, now may be a good time to revisit the DASH diet and understand how using the DASH diet for hypertension can improve your health.

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How is Hypertension Diagnosed?

If you’ve ever gone to a physical or visited a doctor’s office, you likely had your blood pressure taken before you even speak to your physician. According to the American Heart Association, normal blood pressure is anything less than 120/80 mm Hg. If your blood pressure is higher than usual, your physician may re-take it or have you come back for a follow-up visit. If your doctor feels that your high blood pressure is a chronic condition, it may be recommended that you adjust your diet and perhaps take medication to help lower it.


Your doctor may recommend you try a DASH diet if you have:

  • High blood pressure
  • Pre-hypertension
  • A family history of hypertension
  • A desire to find an alternative to blood pressure drugs

What is the DASH Diet?

The DASH diet is an overall healthy diet credited with lowering blood pressure and LDL (bad) cholesterol. It is also associated with a reduced risk of cardiac disease, stroke, obesity and Type 2 diabetes.

Some people fail on diets because of restricted foods. When you are told you can’t have a specific food, you may feel unfulfilled or crave it even more. The DASH diet is manageable because there are no forbidden foods. Meals are nutrient-dense, leaving you with a satisfied feeling longer than meals with high sugar, salt and fat content.

What Do You Eat on the DASH Diet?

Following is the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute DASH diet food list, updated in December 2021:

  • Fruits and vegetables
  • Whole grains
  • Dairy (fat-free or low-fat)
  • Fish and poultry
  • Beans
  • Seeds and nuts
  • Vegetable oils

If you are on a DASH diet, try to limit your intake of these foods:

  • Fatty meats and full-fat dairy
  • Beverages sweetened with sugar
  • Sweets like ice cream, cake and candy
  • Sodium
  • Tropical oils like coconut and palm oil

DASH Diet Recommendations

The following are recommended daily serving sizes for individuals consuming 2000 calories per day:

  • Grains: six to eight
  • Lean meats, poultry and fish: no more than six
  • Vegetables: four or five
  • Fruit: four or five
  • Low-fat or fat-free dairy: two or three
  • Fats and oils: two or three
  • Sodium: 1500 to 2300 mg

 

These reflect weekly servings:

  • Nuts, seeds, beans (dry) and peas: four or five
  • Sweets: no more than five


Here’s a tip to help with serving sizes: Make a habit of reading food labels, keep a food scale in the kitchen, and have measuring cups and spoons handy.

DASH Diet Meal Plans

Here are sample DASH diet meals based on the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute DASH eating plan. Serving sizes will vary based on the daily calorie count that is right for you. Your primary care doctor or a nutritionist can personalize serving size recommendations based on your healthy weight range and activity level.


Breakfast ideas

  • Bran flakes with banana and low-fat milk
  • Oatmeal and banana
  • Fat-free, sugar-free yogurt with fresh fruit
  • Medium raisin bagel with peanut butter


Lunch break

  • Chicken salad on whole wheat bread
  • Salad of cucumber, tomatoes, sunflower seeds and low-calorie dressing
  • Whole wheat sandwich with chicken breast, cheese, lettuce, tomato and low-fat mayonnaise
  • Low-fat, low-sodium ham and reduced-fat cheese on whole wheat bread with lettuce, tomato and low-fat mayonnaise


Snack time

  • Unsalted almonds and apricots with whole wheat crackers
  • Fat-free, no-sugar fruit yogurt with sunflower seeds
  • Graham crackers with peanut butter
    Nuts and raisins


Dinner entrées

  • Roast beef with fat-free gravy, baked potato and green beans with a small whole wheat roll and apple
  • Spaghetti with meat-free sauce and Parmesan cheese, and a spinach salad with vinaigrette dressing
  • Fish with lemon juice, brown rice, spinach, slivered almonds and a small cornbread muffin
  • Chicken with Spanish rice, peas and cantaloupe

Variety and Good Health

Whether you like one-pot meals or a three-course menu, you can find many DASH diet recipes online. For example, the Mayo Clinic offers recipes for a wide range of appetizers, beverages, baked goods, desserts, main and side dishes, salads, sandwiches, sauces, dressings and soups.

For even more health benefits, combine a DASH diet meal plan with a low-sodium diet.

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    Medicare Benefits Solutions is a non-government website. This is a solicitation for insurance. By submitting information on this site, I am providing my written consent for Medicare Benefits Solutions, herein after referred to as “Medicare Benefits”, which is a brand operated by HealthCompare Insurance Services Inc., its sales agents, or affiliates to contact me (even if I’m on a state or national do not call registry) at the phone number or email address listed to provide me with quotes or information about Medicare Advantage, Medicare Supplement, and Medicare Part D plans. I further consent to such calls or texts sent via autodialer, automated technology, prerecorded message and/or artificial voice. I understand my consent is not a condition of purchase and that I can revoke my consent at any time via medicarebenefits.com/about-us/contact-us. Additional charges may apply to SMS, call, or Internet usage depending on your data providers.

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    Medicare Benefits Solutions is a non-government website. This is a solicitation for insurance. By submitting information on this site, I am providing my written consent for Medicare Benefits Solutions, herein after referred to as “Medicare Benefits”, which is a brand operated by HealthCompare Insurance Services Inc., its sales agents, or affiliates to contact me (even if I’m on a state or national do not call registry) at the phone number or email address listed to provide me with quotes or information about Medicare Advantage, Medicare Supplement, and Medicare Part D plans. I further consent to such calls or texts sent via autodialer, automated technology, prerecorded message and/or artificial voice. I understand my consent is not a condition of purchase and that I can revoke my consent at any time via medicarebenefits.com/about-us/contact-us. Additional charges may apply to SMS, call, or Internet usage depending on your data providers.

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