Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) Video

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  • 0:01 Hypertension
  • 1:02 Food Choices
  • 2:20 Servings
  • 3:41 Sample Menu
  • 5:21 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Rebecca Gillaspy

Dr. Gillaspy has taught health science at University of Phoenix and Ashford University and has a degree from Palmer College of Chiropractic.

DASH stands for Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension. You can follow the DASH diet to decrease your blood pressure and lower your risk of heart disease and stroke. Learn which foods are part of the DASH diet and how much of each food to consume.


'Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.' These famous words, uttered by Hippocrates many centuries ago, still ring true today. In fact, if you are at risk of hypertension, your doctor might write you a prescription for food, instead of pills. Hypertension, or more commonly, high blood pressure, is defined as a blood pressure reading that exceeds 140 over 90 millimeters of mercury (mm Hg).

High blood pressure is a major risk factor for heart disease and stroke, so it is important to keep your pressure low. One way to do this is by following the DASH diet. DASH stands for Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension. It is an eating plan that emphasizes nutrient-rich foods and minimizes your intake of salt, sweets, and saturated fats. In this lesson, we will look at foods that fit into the DASH diet and show you how you can put together a healthy daily menu for low blood pressure.

Food Choices

The nice thing about the DASH diet is that you don't need to buy specialty foods in order to follow it. All of your food choices can be found at your local grocery store. So, if your doctor writes you a prescription for the DASH diet, here are the foods you will want to put in your grocery cart.

Choices for DASH Diet
picture of vegetables

On your trip through the grocery store, you should get plenty of fruits, vegetables, whole grains and low-fat or fat-free dairy products. You will also be allowed to have limited amounts of lean protein, nuts, seeds and even some oil and a few sweets. Following the DASH diet ensures that you are getting important nutrients that help lower your blood pressure, including potassium, calcium and magnesium.

It also helps to keep your intake of sodium, or salt, low. The standard DASH diet plan keeps your sodium intake below 2,300 milligrams of sodium a day. But, if you already have high blood pressure or have signs of heart disease, your doctor might recommend the lower sodium DASH diet. This plan keeps your sodium intake below 1,500 milligrams a day. That's not a lot of salt; in fact, 1,500 mg is only about 2/3 of a teaspoon of salt.


As you can see, the DASH diet allows you to eat a variety of foods, but you are probably wondering how much can you eat? The number of daily food servings you eat will depend on the amount of calories that you want to consume. To make things simple, we will look at the number of servings for someone who wants to consume 2,000 calories per day. You can adjust the number of servings you eat based on the calorie level you set for yourself.

The serving sizes will be the same for both versions of the DASH diet, but if you are on the lower-sodium version, you will want to read ingredient labels to avoid hidden sources of sodium, and put down the salt shaker to avoid added salt.

The DASH diet recommendations include: 6-8 servings of grains a day (preferably whole grains), 8-10 servings of fruits and vegetables a day, 2-3 servings of fat-free or low-fat milk products a day, and 4-5 servings of nuts, seeds, and legumes a week. You also want to limit your intake of certain foods. For example, the diet recommends that you limit lean meats, poultry, and fish to 6 ounces or less a day, limit fats and oils to 2-3 servings a day, and limit sweets and added sugar to 5 servings or fewer a week.

Sample Menu

Just looking at these numbers is a bit intimidating, so let's take the foods you picked up at the grocery store and turn them into a daily meal plan that includes breakfast, lunch and dinner along with a couple of snacks.

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