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The DASH diet: purpose, benefits, foods list, and meal plan

    Today we will talk about one of today’s most popular diets – the DASH diet. More and more people are following this diet. However, it was initially conceived as an eating plan for people with high blood pressure.

    What is the DASH diet?

    DASH is an acronym for the phrase Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension.

    This diet was invented in the 90s of the XX century by the American National Institute of Heart, Blood, and Lungs.

    Scientists wanted to develop a diet to help lower blood pressure without taking medications. The studies were conducted from 1993 to 1997.

    This is how the DASH diet was invented and scientifically substantiated.

    Initially, the diet was designed to reduce high blood pressure by reducing sodium and quantitatively increasing potassium, calcium, and magnesium. But it turned out that reducing salt intake with the DASH diet reduces the threat of heart disease and kidney disease, and blood sugar levels are normalized.

    It has been scientifically proven that excessive body weight also harms blood vessels, which increases the likelihood of an increase in blood pressure. Therefore, people with hypertension need to lose weight and eliminate excess weight. In this regard, the DASH diet has been refined, and some foods with high fat and starch content have been excluded. This has led to the fact that the DASH diet has become helpful for people who have type 2 diabetes and has allowed reducing bad cholesterol.

    The DASH diet is recommended for people suffering from high blood pressure. Still, as an example of a proper and healthy diet, it can be helpful to anyone leading a healthy lifestyle.

    DASH diet’s main principles

    So, the DASH diet is a system that primarily helps to reduce blood pressure and normalize body weight.
    The diet’s primary focus is not on the amount of food eaten but on its quality.
    Following this healthy diet, it is necessary to consume a daily allowance of vegetables and fruits, low-fat dairy and meat products, cereals, legumes, and a little vegetable oil.
    At the same time, it is necessary to abandon the use of fatty, sweet, salty, smoked, and canned foods.

    The DASH diet guidelines

    • This is a reasonably simple nutrition system in which you do not need to count calories, remember the right combinations of foods, or tie meals to a specific time.
    • DASH diet is a nutrition system that can permanently be present in a person’s life and become the principal system of proper nutrition.
    • The DASH diet is suitable for all family members, despite the presence or absence of any problems with blood pressure, high sugar, or cholesterol.
    • On a DASH diet, a person will not experience hunger-related discomfort. The necessary amount of fruits and vegetables and low-fat varieties of meat wholly compensate for the restriction of fat consumption. Portion sizes are practically unlimited.
    • The lack of salt is easily compensated by using lemon juice, herbs, and spices as seasonings.

    Benefits of the DASH Diet for health

    The DASH diet was developed specifically for people suffering from hypertension.

    Still, as a result of refinements and improvements, this diet has become a diet that is generally useful for all older people, even if their pressure does not deviate from the norm.

    Such nutrition:

    • helps to lower and normalize blood pressure,
    • helps to get rid of excess weight, which is one of the factors in the development of hypertension,
    • reduces the risk of high blood sugar (foods included in the DASH diet have a positive effect on normalizing blood sugar in type 2 diabetes),
    • reduces the risk of heart attacks and strokes.



    DASH diet food list


    The DASH diet food list - fruits and vegetables
    The DASH diet food list – fruits and vegetables

    The DASH diet allows you to eat any fruit. Almost everything is good: bananas, citrus fruits, apples, figs, watermelons, peaches, and seasonal berries. During the day, you need to consume up to 5 servings of fruit. A serving is one whole fruit or 1/4 cup dried fruit, 250 g frozen berries, or 1/2 cup natural juice.


    Any vegetables are allowed without restrictions. The norm is five servings per day. A serving is 1 cup raw chopped vegetables, 1/2 cup stewed vegetables, or 1/2 cup vegetable juice.


    The DASH diet food list – grains and cereals
    The DASH diet food list – grains and cereals

    The most valuable cereals are buckwheat, oats, brown rice, and quinoa. This also includes pasta and bread made from whole-grain wheat flour. Up to 6 servings of grains should be consumed daily. A serving is 80 grams of finished cereal product.

    Legumes, nuts

    The DASH diet food list - legumes and nuts
    The DASH diet food list – legumes and nuts

    Lentils, beans, beans, chickpeas, mung beans. Legumes are a great side dish for the DASH diet. The portion is 250 g cooked legumes, 1/3 cup nuts, or three teaspoons seeds. Including legumes in the amount of 1 serving in the diet is desirable at least four times a week.

    Vegetable oils

    Any vegetable oils must be added to food on average 5 grams at every main meal. It can be oils such as linseed, olive, peanut, sesame, sunflower, and avocado.

    Lean meat and low-fat dairy products, eggs

    Animal protein sources in the DASH diet are lean meat, fish, low-fat dairy products, and eggs.
    One serving of meat or fish per day is allowed — portion weight up to 200 g. Eggs can be eaten 3-4 times a week for one egg.
    Dairy products 2-3 servings per day. A serving is a glass of milk, 1/2 cup yogurt, or 1/3 cup of cottage cheese or cheese.

    DASH diet menu guide and restrictions

    The menu and rules of the DASH diet can be described as follows.

    • Drink enough water; the body should not be deficient in the fluid.
    • Take food five times a day. The weight of one serving is no more than 215 g.
    • The calorie content of the daily diet is within 2–3 thousand kcal. (depending on gender, age, and lifestyle of a person).
    • Sweet food – no more than four times a week.
    • The basis of the diet is using cereals, seeds, beans, lean meats, and vegetables.
    • You can drink everything except soda and alcoholic beverages.
    • In addition to the main meals, five snacks are allowed.
    • The use of alcohol is prohibited.
    • If you have a harmful dependence on smoking, it is best to give it up.
    • Mandatory reduction of salt intake. The total amount of salt that enters the body with food should not exceed 2.5 teaspoons per day.
    • Mandatory inclusion in the menu of whole grain bread.
    • The diet excludes smoked meats, pickles, fatty foods, pastries, canned fish, and canned flesh.

    DASH diet meal plan for the week

    Monday and Thursday

    The DASH diet recipe - chicken sandwiches with vegetables
    The DASH diet recipe – chicken sandwiches with vegetables

    Breakfast: orange juice, oatmeal with berries, coffee with milk, applesauce.
    A.M. snack: fruit.
    Lunch: vegetable salad, oven-baked fish, boiled or stewed beans.
    P.M. snack: fruit.
    Dinner: vegetable stew, cheese sandwich.
    Before bed: a glass of drinking yogurt without additives.

    Tuesday and Saturday

    The DASH diet recipe - cottage cheese sandwiches with herbs
    The DASH diet recipe – cottage cheese sandwiches with herbs

    Breakfast: apple juice, cornflakes or muesli with milk, cottage cheese.
    A.M. snack: pear with yogurt.
    Lunch: whole wheat spaghetti with parmesan, cherry tomatoes, and basil.
    P.M. snack: Toast with a piece of boiled chicken and a slice of tomato or cucumber.
    Dinner: vegetable salad with boiled potatoes.
    Before bed: herbal tea and oatmeal cookies.

    Wednesday and Friday

    Breakfast: Boiled egg, cottage cheese, herb sandwich, apple juice.
    A.M. snack: any nuts and fruits.
    Lunch: vegetable stew, chicken fillet with rice.
    P.M. snack: fruits.
    Dinner: vegetable salad and scrambled eggs.
    Before bed: almond or coconut milk.


    The DASH diet recipe - wholegrain pasta with tomatoes and basil
    The DASH diet recipe – wholegrain pasta with tomatoes and basil

    On this day, you can eat whatever you want. But with one condition: do not abuse sweet, rich, and spicy dishes. And also, do not include prohibited foods on the menu.

    Conclusion about the DASH diet

    The DASH diet is recommended for older people with hypertension. However, as world practice has shown, it is suitable for many elderly and middle-aged people to maintain health.

    Also, many people use this diet for weight loss with success.

    However, do not forget that this is still a diet. Therefore, before deciding to eat according to the recommendations of the DASH diet, be sure to consult with your doctor. More formal reference information is here.

    You may also be interested in The BRAT diet for diarrhea. Food list and diet recipes.

    The DASH diet description, purpose, benefits, food list, meal plan and recipes