It is a specific diet plan developed  by scientists (Kempner et. al.) with the assistance of National Heart Lung and Blood Institute (NHLBI) to control hypertension. The DASH ( Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) studies shows the effect of different nutrients in hypertension.

The results of these studies concluded that a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, low-fat dairy products, whole grain products, fish,  and nuts can help in maintaining the blood pressure. By these studies it is proved that hypertensive people should restrict their intake of red meat, sweets and sugar-containing beverages.

What are the basic recommendations of DASH diet?

The DASH approach recommends following food groups in this manner.

Food group Daily servings One serving equals Examples and notes Significance of each food group to the DASH Diet pattern
Grains and grain products 7-8 1 slice bread Whole-wheat bread, english muffin, pita bread, bagel, cereals, grits, oatmeal Major sources of energy and fiber
1/2 C dry cereal*
1/2 C cooked rice, pasta or cereal
Vegetables 4-5 1 C raw leafy vegetable Tomatoes, potatoes, carrots, peas, squash, broccoli, turnip greens, collards, kale, spinach, artichokes, beans, sweet potatoes Rich sources of potassium, magnesium and fiber
1/2 C cooked vegetable
6 fl oz. vegetable juice
Fruits 4-5 6 fl. oz. fruit juice Apricots, bananas, dates, grapes, oranges, orange juice, grapefruit, grapefruit juice, mangoes, melons, peaches, pineapples, prunes, raisins, strawberries, tangerines Important sources of potassium, magnesium and fiber
1 medium fruit
1/4 C dried fruit
1/2 C fresh, frozen or canned fruit
Low fat or non fat dairy foods 2-3 8 oz. milk Skim or 1% milk, skim or low-fat butter milk, nonfat or low fat yogurt, part-skim mozzarella cheese, nonfat cheese Major sources of calcium and protein
1 C yogurt
1.5 oz. cheese
Meats, poultry, fish 2 or less 3 oz. cooked meats, poultry or fish Select only lean; trim away visible fats; broil, roast or boil, instead of frying; remove skin from poultry Rich sources of protein and magnesium
Nuts 1-2 1.5 oz. or 1/3 C or 2 Tbsp seeds Almonds, filberts, mixed nuts, peanuts, walnuts, sunflower seeds, kidney beans, lentils Rich sources of energy, magnesium, potassium, protein and fiber
1/2 C cooked legumes
Fats and oils 2-3 1 tsp soft margarine Soft margarine, low fat mayonnaise, vegetable oil (such as olive, corn, canola or safflower) DASH has 27% of calories as fat including that in or added to foods.
1 Tbsp low fat mayonnaise
2 Tbsp low fat salad dressing
1 tsp vegetable oil
Sweets 5 per week 1 Tbsp sugar Maple syrup, sugar jelly, jam, fruit- flavored gelatin, jelly beans, hard candy, fruit punch, sorbet, ices. Sweets should be low in fat.
1 Tbsp jelly or jam
1/2 oz. jelly beans
8 oz. lemonade


* Equals to 1/2 to 11/4 cup depending on the type of cereal.

(From Appel LJ, et al. A clinical trial of the effects of dietary patterns on blood pressure. N Engl. J Med 336:1117,1997.)

Can you give me a sample menu based on DASH diet?

Sample menu

Food Amount Servings provided
orange juice 6oz. 1 fruit
1% low-fat milk 8 oz.(1C) 1Dairy
corn flakes (with1 tsp sugar) 1 C 2 grains
banana 1 medium 1 fruit
whole-wheat bread (with1 Tbsp jelly) 1 slice 1 grain
Soft margarine 1 tsp 1 fat
chicken salad 3/4 C 1 poultry
pita bread 1/2 slice, large 1 grain
raw vegetable medley:
          carrot and celery sticks 3-4 sticks each
          radishes 2 1 vegetable
          loose- leaf lettuce 2 leaves
part-skim mozzarella cheese 1.5 slice(1.5 oz) 1Dairy
1% low-fat milk 8 oz.(1C) 1Dairy
fruit cocktail in light syrup 1/2 C 1 fruit
herbed baked cod 3 oz. 1 fish
scallion rice 1C 2 grains
steamed broccoli 1/2 C 1 vegetable
steamed tomatoes 1/2 C 1 vegetable
spinach salad:
           raw spinach 1/2 C
           cherry tomatoes-2 2 1 vegetable
           cucumber 2 slices
light Italian salad dressing 1 tbsp 1/2 fat
whole-wheat dinner roll 1 small 1 grain
soft margarine 1tsp 1 fat
melon balls 1/2 C 1 fruit
dried apricots 1 oz. (1/4 C) 1 fruit
mini-pretzels 1 oz. (3/4 C) 1 grain
mixed nuts 1.5 oz. (1/3 C) 1 nuts
diet ginger ale 12 oz. 0

From Appel LJ, et al. A clinical trial of the effects of dietary patterns on blood pressure. N Engl. J Med 336:1117,1997.)