DASH stands for Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension. It is a balanced eating plan that your family doctor might recommend to help you lower your blood pressure. The DASH diet:
Getting too much sodium (salt) in your diet can contribute to high blood pressure (also called hypertension). Some salt is in foods naturally, and some salt is added to food when it is processed or prepared. Following the DASH diet can help you lower your blood pressure, or prevent high blood pressure, by reducing the amount of sodium in your diet to less than 2,300 mg per day.
The fruits, vegetables and whole grains recommended in the DASH diet provide many other elements of a healthy diet, such as lycopene, beta-carotene and isoflavones. These can help protect your body against common health conditions, such as cancer, osteoporosis, stroke and diabetes. Following the DASH diet can also help reduce your risk of heart disease by lowering your low-density lipoprotein (LDL, or "bad") cholesterol level.
Following the DASH diet may drop your blood pressure by a few points in as little as 2 weeks. However, you should not stop taking your blood pressure medicine, or any other prescribed medicine, without talking to your doctor first.
The DASH diet is nutritionally balanced for good health. You don't need to buy any special foods or pills, or cook with any special recipes, to follow the DASH diet. If you follow the DASH diet, you will eat about 2,000 calories each day. These calories will come from a variety of foods.
You can adapt the DASH diet to meet your needs. For example:
Don't be discouraged if following the DASH diet is difficult at first. Start with small, achievable goals. The following ideas can help you make healthy changes: