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What is the DASH Diet?

The DASH diet, also known as the dietary approach to stop hypertension, is an evidence-based long-term eating plan high in fruits and vegetables, low fat dairy products, and whole grains that is used to prevent and manage high blood pressure (hypertension).

What does the DASH Diet stand for?

The acronym DASH from the DASH diet stands for Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension. 

Who created the DASH Diet?

The DASH Diet was created by the National Institute of Health, after several studies suggested that there were dietary interventions capable of treating high blood pressure without any additional lifestyle changes.  

The ultimate goal of this eating plan is to lower blood pressure without medication by making better food choices. 

A sample DASH Diet meal plan.

People who follow the DASH diet plan are encouraged to eat mostly fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and low-fat dairy, along with moderate amounts of fish, nuts, and poultry. Typically, foods like red meats, sugar, and fat are eaten in either limited amounts or not at all. 

There’s also an option to follow a lower-sodium DASH diet, which is where an individual limits their sodium consumption even further, from 3,000 mg per day on the standard DASH diet to 1,500 mg a day or less. Both versions lower sodium considerably compared to the standard American diet.

On both the DASH diet and lower-sodium DASH diet, individuals should try to build a daily meal plan around the following:

  •   5 servings of vegetables
  •   5 servings of fruit
  •   7-8 servings of carbohydrates (focused on whole grains)
  •   2 servings of low-fat dairy
  •   Maximum 2 servings of lean meat

Learn more about DASH Diet:

Photo of Kristin Ricklefs-Johnson

Medically reviewed by:

Kristin Ricklefs-Johnson, Ph.D., RD

Kristin is an RDN who also earned her Ph.D. in Nutrition from Arizona State University with an emphasis on insulin resistance, lipid metabolism disorders, and obesity. She completed her post-doctoral fellowship at Mayo Clinic where she focused on nutrition-related proteomic and metabolic research. Her interests include understanding the exact mechanism of action of various genetic variations underlying individual predispositions to nutrition-related health outcomes. Her goal is to help all individuals prevent chronic diseases and achieve long, healthy lives through eating well.

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