DASH, Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension, can help control blood pressure. People who adopt DASH can see their blood pressure drop a few points in two weeks, and over time, up to 8 to 14 points.
DASH helps you reduce sodium and enjoy nutrient-dense foods that naturally lower blood pressure because they provide potassium, calcium, and magnesium.
The standard DASH diet allows up to 2,300 milligrams (mg) of sodium a day, about one teaspoon. A lower-sodium DASH, recommended if you already have hypertension, aims for 1,500 mg a day—about two-thirds of a teaspoon. Replace table salt with your favorite herbs and spices, or lemon or lime juice for great flavor.
|6 to 8 a day|
Whole grains, brown rice, oats, and whole-wheat pasta for fiber and nutrients. A serving is 1 slice of bread or 1/2 cup cooked cereal, rice, or pasta.
|4 to 5 a day|
Potassium and magnesium in vegetables (fresh or frozen) help lower blood pressure. For canned, choose low-salt, or rinse veggies to reduce sodium. A serving is 1 cup of raw leafy greens or 1/2 cup of cut raw or cooked vegetables.
|4 to 5 a day|
Low in fat, high in fiber, full of nutrients; a serving is 1 medium-sized fruit or 1/2 cup fresh, frozen, or canned (rinse to remove sweetened syrup to cut calories).
|2 to 3 a day|
1 serving is 1 cup skim or 1% milk, 1 cup of low-fat yogurt, or 1 1/2 ounces reduced-fat cheese.
Fish, poultry, lean meat
|6 or less a day |
Remove skin, trim fat, and broil, poach, or roast. Choose heart-healthy salmon or tuna to lower cholesterol. A serving is 1 ounce.
Nuts, seeds, legumes
|4 to 5 a week |
Almonds, sunflower seeds, lentils, beans, and others in this group offer protein, magnesium, and potassium. High in calories, serving sizes are small: a serving is 1/3 cup of nuts, 2 tablespoons of seeds, or 1/2 cup cooked beans. Avoid salted nuts and seeds.
|Fats and oils ||2 to 3 a day |
Avoid trans fat in processed baked goods and fried foods; choose margarine and salad dressing lowest in saturated fat. A serving is 1 teaspoon soft margarine or 1 tablespoon low-fat mayo.
|Sweets||5 or less a week||Choose low-fat options, such as sorbets or graham crackers. If you add artificial sweeteners, use them sparingly.|
“DASH Diet: Healthy Eating to Lower Your Blood Pressure” by Mayo Clinic Staff, www.mayoclinic.com, 5/15/10
“High Blood Pressure and the DASH diet,” WebMD, www.webmd.com, 10/18/11