The DASH diet (Dietary Approaches to Stopping Hypertension) was developed with the idea that proper
nutrition could significantly reduce blood pressure. The DASH trial, which took place in the United States
of America, found an improvement in blood pressure control in people who followed a diet rich in fruits,
vegetables, and low-fat dairy products, with reduced amounts of saturated fat, total fat and cholesterol.
This diet was also rich in fiber and protein,and had a reasonable amount of sodium (salt). Finally, alcohol
consumption was limited.
What is included in the diet?
The DASH diet emphasizes fruits, vegetables and low-fat dairy products. Included in this diet are whole
grains, poultry, fish and raw nuts. In addition, it requires a reduction in the amount of red meat, sweets
and sugar-containing beverages compared to the standard American diet.
The DASH diet contains 8-10 servings of fruits and vegetables per day, as well as almost 3 servings of
low-fat dairy products per day. Salt intake should be less than 3 grams per day (roughly equivalent to 3
teaspoons), and alcohol intake 2 or less units per day. Salt can also be calculated as sodium, such as on
food labels. In this case, the maximum intake should be 2000 mg.
What are the benefits of the diet?
The overall benefit of the DASH diet is a reduction of blood pressure of, on average, 11.4/3.5 points in
patient who suffer from high blood pressure. This represents a similar benefit to many starting dose
blood pressure medications, but without any side effects. As well, this diet should have benefits for
cholesterol and blood sugar control, as well as facilitate the maintenance of a healthy weight.