DASH Diet For a Healthy Blood Pressure

The DASH diet was made to help people lower their blood pressure pressure to healthy levels. It is a heart-healthy diet that is good for most people.

Eating on the DASH Diet

The basics of the DASH diet are:

  • Grains: 6 to 8 servings each day
  • Vegetables: 4 to 5 servings each day
  • Fruits: 4 to 5 servings each day
  • Low-fat or fat-free dairy products: 2 to 3 servings each day
  • Meats, poultry, eggs, and fish: 6 servings or less each day
  • Nuts, seeds, and legumes: 4 to 5 servings each week

It also limits:

  • Fats and oils: no more than 2 to 3 servings each day
  • Sweets: no more than 5 servings or less in a week

Grains and Grain Products

Choose whole-grain foods over white breads, pastas, or rice. Whole grains have fiber, vitamins, and minerals. They may also help you feel more full. Examples of 1 serving are:

  • 1 slice of bread
  • one-half to 1 and one-quarter cup of dry cereal; check the label on the cereal box for serving size
  • one-half cup of cooked rice, pasta, or cereal

Good choices are:

  • Whole wheat bread
  • Brown rice
  • Whole grain cereals
  • Oatmeal
  • Air-popped popcorn

Vegetables and Fruits

Vegetables and fruits are low in calories. Most have almost no fat. They are also good sources of fiber, vitamins, and minerals. Some of these minerals can help manage blood pressure. Examples of 1 serving are:

  • 1 cup of raw leafy vegetables
  • one-half cup of cooked vegetables
  • one-half cup of vegetable juice
  • one-half cup of fruit juice
  • 1 medium piece of fruit
  • one-fourth cup of dried fruit
  • one-half cup of fresh (cut up), frozen, or canned fruit

All fruits and vegetables are good choices. Try different ones. Look for bright colors to get a good mix of minerals and vitamins.

Low-fat or Fat-free Dairy Foods

Dairy foods are good sources of calcium and protein. Examples of 1 serving of dairy are:

  • 1 cup of milk
  • 1 cup of yogurt
  • 1 and one-half ounces of cheese

Meats, Poultry, and Fish

Meats, poultry, and fish are packed with protein and magnesium. Be sure to buy lean cuts of meat and poultry. Examples of 1 serving are:

  • 2 and one-half to 3 and one-half ounces of cooked meats, poultry, or fish
  • 1 egg

Nuts, Seeds, and Dry Beans

Nuts, seeds, and beans are great source of magnesium, potassium, protein, and fiber. Examples of 1 serving are:

  • one-third cup of nuts
  • 2 tablespoons of seeds
  • one-half cup of cooked dry beans

Look for unsalted nuts or seeds.

Fats and Oils

Fats and oils should be limited. Look for those that are lowest in saturated fats. Examples of 1 serving are:

  • 1 teaspoon of soft margarine
  • 1 tablespoon of low fat mayonnaise
  • 2 tablespoons of salad dressing
  • 1 teaspoon of vegetable oil


Sweets have low nutritional value. Choose ones that are low in fat. Examples of 1 serving are:

  • 1 tablespoon of sugar
  • 1 tablespoon of jelly or jam
  • one-half cup of sorbet, gelatin dessert
  • 8 ounces of lemonade

Salt Sense

Some people are sensitive to salt. This may raise their blood pressure. Taking in less salt may lower blood pressure. Most salt comes from processed or canned foods. Look for low sodium options. Choose fresh meats, poultry, or fish and prepare them at home. That will help you control how much salt is used. Be aware of foods that are high in salt, such as cured meats or brined foods like pickles.


American Heart Association
The DASH Diet Eating Plan


Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada


DASH diet. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/management/dash-diet. Updated January 15, 2018. Accessed February 4, 2020.
Description of the DASH eating plan. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute website. Available at: https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health-topics/dash-eating-plan. Accessed February 4, 2020.
Last reviewed November 2019 by EBSCO Medical Review Board Dianne Scheinberg Rishikof MS, RD, LDN
Last Updated: 2/2/2021

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