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Dash Diet – A Complete Diet Plan For High Blood Pressure (Hypertension)

What is Dash Diet?

The DASH diet is one of the most popular diets among weight watchers and has made its way to the headlines once again. The DASH diet has been voted the best overall diet for six years in a row.

DASH stands for Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension. This diet is a scientific approach to prevent or treat high blood pressure (hypertension) by regulating sodium intake which is a driving factor in controlling blood pressure.

Research has shown that the DASH diet not only lowers the blood pressure but also reduce the first line of medication meant for hypertension.

Besides that, it is one of the flexible diet plans that include our day-to-day food items, no special food preparation, easy and manageable alteration and most important of all, has a proven scientific back. Because of all the stated reasons, the DASH diet is considered as one of the top diet plans [1].

If you are suffering from hypertension or high blood pressure and don’t know how to treat it. You can ask a Truweight nutritionist for FREE. 

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The Purpose of the DASH diet

The DASH diet was originated in the 1990s when the National Institute of Health (NIH) started funding to see the effect of specific diet interventions on hypertension.

The study showed that excluding all the confounding factors, diet alone was able to reduce the systolic blood pressure by about 6 to 11 mm Hg.

The aim of the DASH diet is to reduce blood pressure. For this, it emphasizes the inclusion of all the food items low in sodium and rich in potassium, magnesium and calcium. This proportion of minerals helps in lowering the elevated blood pressure.

Types of DASH diet

On the basis of health needs, there are 2 types of DASH diets an individual can follow

  1. The standard DASH diet- In this diet, sodium consumption is limited to 2300 mg per day.
  2. The lower-sodium DASH diet- Here, sodium consumption is even reduced to 1500 mg per day.

Both types of DASH diet aims at reducing the sodium intake while just the amount varies.

5 Food that Controls High Blood Pressure or Hypertension

There are foods that have blood pressure regulating properties. Out of them, the 5 super foods that work best in preventing hypertension and are active contributors to a DASH diet are

  • Fresh Fruits-  Their potassium is the main ingredient in regulating the sodium level in the body.
  • Moringa leaves- they are rich sources of potassium, vitamin E, calcium, magnesium and zinc, all of these play active roles in controlling hypertension.
  • Quinoa seeds- besides potassium and magnesium, this is also a good source of protein.
  • Unflavored yogurt- hypertension controlling nutrients like calcium, magnesium and potassium are present in.
  • Beans- Along with the 3 key nutrients calcium, magnesium and potassium, these are rich in fibre too.

Dash Diet Chart

Dash Diet for hypertension
Dash Diet for hypertension

The DASH diet calls for:

  1. Consumption of vegetables, fruits, and whole grains
  2. Inclusion fat-free or low-fat dairy products, fish, poultry, beans, nuts, and vegetable oils
  3. Limiting foods that are high in saturated fat, such as fatty meats, full-fat dairy products, and tropical oils such as coconut, palm kernel, and palm oils.
  4. Limiting sugar-sweetened beverages and sweets

Foods to be included

Non-Starchy vegetables and fruits

Foods to be included in moderation

  • Low-fat dairy products
  • Whole grains
  • Lean Meat
  • Nuts and seeds
  • Healthy fats rich in omega-3 fatty acids

Food items to limit

  • Sugar and highly- sweetened beverages
  • Saturated fatty acids
  • Alcohol intake
  • Packaged foods- rich in salt and sugar

Also, try to quit or minimise smoking as it also has an impact over the blood pressure.

Based on the calorie requirement, the DASH diet recommends a certain number of servings from each food group.

Daily and Weekly DASH Eating Plan Goals for a 2,000-Calorie-a-Day Diet

Food GroupDaily Servings
Grains 6–8
Meats, poultry, and fish6 or less
Vegetables
4–5
Fruit
4–5
Low-fat or fat-free dairy products
2–3
Fats and oils
2–3
Sodium2,300 mg*
Food GroupWeekly Servings
Nuts, seeds, dry beans, and peas
4–5
Sweets
5 or less

Download it here!
Source: National Institutes of Health

*1,500 milligrams (mg) sodium lowers blood pressure even further than 2,300 mg sodium daily. 


High Blood Pressure Diet Recommendation

It is very important to choose foods that are heart-healthy:

  • Low in saturated and trans fats
  • Rich in potassium, calcium, magnesium, fiber, and protein
  • Low in sodium

Your diet plays a big role when you are suffering from high blood pressure. Learn about the superfoods that may help you lower your high blood pressure.

8 Foods to Avoid to Control Hypertension

8 foods to avoid if you have hypertension are:

  • Red meat
  • Deli meat
  • Canned soups
  • Canned tomato products
  • Soft drinks
  • Meals that are frozen
  • Pastries
  • Alcohol

Lifestyle Changes While Following the DASH Diet

Although, researches have shown that diet alone is capable of reducing the elevated blood pressure values, certain healthy changes in lifestyle will even upgrade the effect of the DASH diet. Some lifestyle changes are

1. Achievement or Maintenance of healthy weight- This is necessary for better assimilation and utilization of nutrients and electrolytes without any hindrance.

Also, the body should be free from excess fat accumulation that is capable of reduced blood flow in arteries and increased blood pressure.

2. Get regular physical exercise- Regular exercise of minimum 30 minutes a day or 2 hours 30 minutes per week at a moderate-intensity level is suggested while following the DASH diet

3. Reduce alcohol consumption- If you are a regular drinker, them reduce it to moderation. That is, women can have one drink per day whereas, 2 drinks per day in men, is permissible

4. Embrace gradual changes- Gradual changes are easy to adopt, get adjusted to and show better results for the long term.

  • Include more servings of whole fruits and vegetables rather than juices.
  • Inculcate the habit of reading nutrition labels
  • Opt for ‘low-fat’ or ‘no-fat’ alternatives for dairy products.
  • Chose healthy and tasty snacks fresh fruits, yoghurt with nuts and berries, unsalted puffed rice, etc.

4 Categories of Medication for Hypertension – Pros & Cons

People with hypertension or high blood pressure are often prescribed a regular pill. If taken under physician’s supervision, the pills aren’t harmful.

However, we mustn’t overlook the importance of natural remedies if we can find them. 4 categories of hypertension medications [1] with their pros and cons are:

a) Diuretics

They are used to clean out the excess salt from the body along with excess water.

Pros: Helps in kidney functioning as well as lowers the blood volume that helps in controlling blood pressure.

Cons: Weakness, frequent urination, muscle cramps.

b) ACE inhibitors

Pros- relaxes the blood vessels.

Cons- fluid retention, cough, rashes.

c) Calcium channel blockers

Pros- Stops calcium from entering blood vessels and the heart.

Cons- heartburn, headache, dizziness.

d) Beta-blockers

Pros- Helps in reducing blood pressure by slowing down heart beat with less force.

Cons- Tiredness, headaches, dizziness.

Watch Video on 5 Top Super Food to Counter Hypertension

Hypertension or high blood pressure is dangerous as it makes the heart pump blood faster to the other parts of the body leading to stroke, kidney disease, hardening of arteries and heart failure.

The 5 superfoods to be included in your high blood pressure diet to manage or prevent it, as mentioned above, are explained elaborately in the video given below.

Quick tip- How to identify hypertension?

The worst part of high blood pressure is that it doesn’t have proper symptoms. In fact, you can have hypertension for years without even being detected.

However, sudden high blood pressure is often characterized by

  • Frequent headaches
  • Dizzines
  • Nose bleeding (in extreme situations)
  • Chest pain
  • Nausea
  • Shortness of breath

Note: High blood pressure can be confirmed with proper diagnosis.

How to curb sodium intake?

Reduce sodium intake
Reduce sodium intake

Restricted sodium consumption is key to a successful DASH diet. Here are a few tips to curb your sodium intake.

While shopping

  • Read food labels, and choose products that are lower in sodium and salt, especially for convenience foods like ready to eat and ready to cook food items.
  • Choose fresh produce (fruits, vegetables, poultry, fish, and lean meats) instead of cured, canned or frozen food.
  • Avoid food with added salt. These include pickles, pickled vegetables, olives, and flavoured food products.

While cooking

  • Substitute salt with salt-free seasoning blends, fresh or dried herbs and spices, or fresh lime juice to flavour your foods.
  • Remove the sodium content of canned foods and pickled foods by rinsing it thoroughly under fresh water.

While eating

  • Avoid using additional table salt.
  • At restaurants order for dishes to be prepared without added salt or MSG (monosodium glutamate) and limit choosing menu items that have salty ingredients (like pickles, cheese, french fries, chips, etc.).

Quick Tip #2 : During sudden high blood pressure levels, you must see the doctor immediately because it might lead to brain hemorrhage, sudden cardiac arrest, heart attacks.

However, here are 5 features to prevent from such sudden hypertension conditions:

  • Keep yourself stress free
  • Avoid smoking and alcohol
  • Lower your sodium intake
  • Take up routine exercises
  • Get your bp checked every once in a while

Benefits of DASH Diet

  • The DASH diet ensures an increased consumption of fibre, phytochemicals, antioxidants, calcium, magnesium, and potassium.
  • On the other hand, there is reduced dietary intake of saturated fat, cholesterol, sugar and sodium. Thus, it goes without saying that the diet helps to maintain normal blood pressure, and reduce cholesterol level.
  • DASH diet also ensures improved nutrition level. As this diet encourages the consumption of whole food items with no restriction on any food group, the nutrition level is not compromised.
  • Researches have proved that the DASH diet is also helpful in preventing the risks of hazardous situations like heart failure, stroke, increased cholesterol levels, kidney stones, osteoporosis and even, type 2 diabetes mellitus. 

What’s more, it can help overweight individuals lose weight by merely ensuring healthier dietary choices!

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