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Healtheuniversity > English > Diabetes College > Eat Healthy > Sodium > Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH)

Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH)

Following a Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) eating pattern can lower your blood pressure.

  • The DASH eating pattern helps to lower blood pressure because it contains key nutrients that lower blood pressure, such as potassium, calcium, and magnesium.

The DASH eating pattern is about eating fresh, whole foods and more plants in place of processed and prepared foods.

​Research shows that a Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) eating pattern can lower your blood pressure.

Key features of the DASH eating pattern include choosing to eat: 

  • plenty of vegetables and fruit
  • unsalted nuts and seeds
  • whole grains, fish, poultry, and nuts
  • more legumes and fish
  • lower fat dairy products
  • lower sodium
  • lower amounts of red meats, sweets, and drinks that contain sugar

The DASH eating pattern is about eating fresh, whole foods and more plants in place of processed and prepared foods. When you eat this way, your diet is lower in sodium, while higher in other nutrients such as fibre, potassium, magnesium and calcium.

How Does the DASH Eating Pattern Lower Blood Pressure?

The DASH eating pattern helps to lower blood pressure because it contains key nutrients, such as potassium, calcium, and magnesium. These nutrients help to lower blood pressure.

The table below is an example of the how many servings from each food group you can eat each day to lower your high blood pressure, or prevent it.

Food GroupDaily Servings
Grains and grain products7-8
Vegetables4-5
Fruits4-5
Low fat dairy2-3
Meats, poultry and fish2 or less
Fats and oils2-3
Nuts, seeds, legumes4-5 per week

Source: National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute (opens in new window)

What Amount of Sodium is OK?

A DASH-Sodium study was done to learn what amount of sodium is ok to eat. People in the study were put into 3 groups. Each group ate a different amount of sodium each day.

The 3 levels of sodium were:

  1. DASH diet with 3300 mg of sodium each day (about what most North Americans eat each day),
  2. DASH Diet with 2300 mg of sodium each day, and
  3. DASH Diet with 1500 mg of sodium each day

All people who followed the DASH diet had lower blood pressure at the end of the study. People in the group who only had 1500 mg of sodium each day lowered their blood pressure the most.

1500 mg of sodium is found in about 2/3 of a teaspoon of table salt.

Last Reviewed: 10/16/2016