DASH Diet for Hypertension

DASH Diet for Hypertension

The Dietary Approach to Stop Hypertension (DASH) Diet is a diet advocated by the United States Department of Health and Human Services, as a treatment for hypertension. DASH is not a conventional diet, because it is more focused on making long-term changes to your lifestyle. It isn’t calorie restrictive, and is easy to follow.

What is hypertension?

When blood pressure is too high it is known as hypertension. Blood pressure refers to the amount of force that is created by blood pushing against the walls of arteries when the heart pumps. Hypertension is therefore often known as high blood pressure.

The serious medical condition is thought to account for 12.8 per cent of all deaths globally, [30] and costs the NHS more than £2 billion per year. [31]


Despite common misconceptions, hypertension is normally symptomless. Your blood pressure numbers are the best indicator of hypertension and they must not be ignored, regardless of how you feel and whether or not you are experiencing any symptoms.

When your blood pressure is measured, two numbers are given. The higher number refers to your systolic pressure, which is the pressure inside the arteries while the heart is contracting. The bottom number, known as the diastolic pressure, refers to the amount of pressure present in the arteries between heartbeats, while the heart is refilling with blood.

Blood pressure is measured in millimetres of mercury (mmHg). The idea is that blood pressure is around 120mmHg over 80mmHg (120/80).


Hypertension is caused by a mix of both genetic and environmental factors. People most at risk of developing hypertension include:

  • Elderly people: studies have shown that developing hypertension is more likely as you age [32]
  • People with a family history of hypertension
  • People of African or Caribbean origin
  • Overweight and obese people
  • People with poor dietary habits
  • People that smoke regularly
  • Sleep-deprived people


The DASH diet for hypertension is a tried and tested method that has been shown to decrease blood pressure. [33] The diet is rich in fruit and vegetables, with a focus on reducing dietary components that contribute to hypertension.

The DASH eating plan should contain:

  • 6-8 servings of whole grains each day (brown rice, whole wheat pasta or whole grain bread
  • 4-5 servings of a variety of vegetables each day
  • 3-4 servings of fruit each day
  • 2-3 servings of low-fat dairy each day
  • 4-6 servings of non-fried lean meats or fish per day (chicken, turkey, grass-fed low-fat beef, salmon, herring and tuna)
  • 4-5 servings of nuts, seeds and legumes each week

Foods to avoid include:

  • High sodium foods: smoked, cured, processed and canned meats or fish
  • Full-fat dairy
  • Sweets and other high-sugar foods and drinks

Hypertension and Diet Books

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