DASH Eating Plan

The DASH eating plan has been shown in several research studies to lower blood pressure. This diet is low in saturated fat and cholesterol and emphasizes fruits, vegetables, and low-fat dairy foods. Combined with low sodium intake, this eating plan has been shown to be as effective as a single blood pressure medicine in lowering blood pressure.

What Is the DASH Eating Plan?

More than 65 million Americans (nearly 1 in 3) have high blood pressure (hypertension). Unfortunately, in more than 90 percent of cases, the cause or causes of high blood pressure are not known. But hypertension research scientists have found certain risk factors that increase a person's chance of developing the condition. Preventing high blood pressure involves minimizing the risk factors that can be controlled. One of these risk factors is an unhealthy diet.
 
The DASH eating plan is a diet that has been shown in several research studies to lower blood pressure. (DASH stands for Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension.) This eating plan:
 
  • Combines healthy foods that are low in saturated fat, cholesterol, and total fat
  • Emphasizes fruits, vegetables, and low-fat dairy foods.
     
Combined with low sodium intake, the DASH eating plan has been shown to be as effective as a single blood pressure medicine in lowering blood pressure.
 

Where Did It Originate?

In the past, researchers looked for clues about what in the diet affects blood pressure by testing various single nutrients, such as calcium, magnesium, and potassium (see Potassium and High Blood Pressure). These studies were done mostly with dietary supplements, and their findings were not conclusive. Then hypertension research scientists conducted two key studies: DASH and DASH-Sodium.
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