The DASH Diet for Lowering Blood Pressure

stethoscope in a shape of a heart

Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) is an eating plan that can help prevent or treat high blood pressure. It includes vegetables, fruit, whole grains, low fat dairy products, nuts, seeds, legumes and a lower level of salt. DASH may be as effective as medicine at keeping blood pressure levels in check. Read on to learn how you can follow the DASH eating plan.

High blood pressure and the DASH diet

High blood pressure, or hypertension, is when blood moves through your arteries at a higher pressure than normal. It is dangerous because it makes the heart work harder than usual and can lead to heart disease and stroke.

You can help control your blood pressure by following a healthy diet and being physically active. The most effective eating plan for lowering blood pressure levels is DASH.

The DASH eating plan

The DASH eating plan is similar to Canada’s Food Guide. It focuses on  vegetables, fruit, whole grains, low fat dairy products, plant-based proteins and is lower in  meats, saturated fat, sugar and salt.
This table shows the number of servings that would be recommended if you were following a 2,000 calorie diet. Connect with a dietitian to find out how many calories and servings are right for you.


Number of
daily servings

Example of serving size



1 slice whole grain bread

½ cup cooked brown rice or whole wheat pasta

*choose whole grains like oats, millet, barley, bulgur and quinoa most often*



½ cup any raw or cooked vegetable

1 cup raw leafy vegetable

½ cup low sodium or reduced sodium vegetable and tomato juice



1 medium fruit

¼ cup dried fruit½ cup fresh, frozen or canned fruit 

Low fat milk products


1 cup skim or 1% milk

1 cup low fat yogurt (2% milk fat or less)

1.5 oz low fat cheese (19% milk fat or less)

Lean meat, poultry and fish

6 or less

1 oz cooked lean meat, skinless poultry or fish 

1 egg

Nuts, seeds and legumes

4-5 times per week

1/3 cup unsalted nuts (almonds, walnuts)

2 Tbsp peanut butter

2 Tbsp seeds (sunflower, pumpkin)

½ cup cooked legumes (kidney beans, chickpeas)

½ cup tofu

Fats and oils


1 tsp non-hydrogenated, unsalted margarine

1 tsp oil (olive, canola, etc.)

1 Tbsp low-fat mayonnaise or salad dressing

Sweets and added sugars

5 or less per week

1 tbsp sugar, jelly or jam

½ cup sorbet

Important minerals and the DASH diet

The DASH eating plan encourages you to eat foods that are high in potassium, calcium and magnesium. These are three important minerals that work together to help lower blood pressure levels.

Consume more potassium: Good sources of potassium include tomatoes, bananas, oranges, potatoes, nuts, lentils, beans, milk and fish.
Consume more magnesium: Good sources of magnesium include spinach, whole grain cereals, nuts, seeds, fish, beans, soy and lentils.
Consume more calcium: High amounts are found in milk, yogurt, canned fish with bones, leafy green vegetables, beans and tofu. 
 *Note: It is not recommended that you take supplements to prevent hypertension. The benefits come from getting enough of these minerals from food sources.
There is one mineral that you need to consume less of – that’s sodium (Salt). Eating too much sodium can cause high blood pressure, stroke, heart disease and kidney disease. Healthy adults need only 1500 mg sodium per day (that’s less than 1 teaspoon of table salt). Click here to learn more about reducing sodium in your diet.

What a combination - each step of the DASH diet!

Each single step of DASH – such as increasing fibre or reducing saturated and trans fat -- will help lower blood pressure levels. However, the combination of the steps gives the biggest benefit. So, start by eating less sodium, but don’t stop there! As your next step, increase your potassium by eating more fish and bananas. Then, increase your fibre and magnesium intake by choosing more whole grains.

Each step will add up to help lower your blood pressure.

Eating the DASH way

Here are some nutritious meal and snack ideas that are DASH approved:

  • Whole grain bread with peanut butter and banana, skim milk

  • Black bean burrito: black beans, whole wheat tortilla, onion, red pepper, lettuce, tomato, plain yogurt

  • Tofu stir-fry: tofu, mixed vegetables, brown rice

  • Lentil sambar or chana masala, spinach and brown rice

  • Whole wheat pasta, sliced chicken breast, mixed vegetables

  • Salmon sandwich on whole grain bread, green salad, orange, skim milk. 

  • Shakshouka with whole wheat pita and cucumber slices with yogurt dip.


  • Fresh fruit or vegetables

  • Yogurt and banana smoothie

  • Unsalted nuts and dried fruit

  • Whole wheat pita and hummus

How can a dietitian help?

A dietitian can help you lower your blood pressure by using the principles of the DASH diet along with your personal preferences, medical history, lifestyle and culture to come up with an eating plan that is right for you. Your dietitian will also guide you on making lower sodium choices at the grocery store and at home. Together, you will set realistic targets to help you reach your goals. Connect with a dietitian today!

Bottom Line

Whether you are trying to treat or prevent high blood pressure, following the DASH eating plan will help. Increase your intake of foods that are high in magnesium, calcium, potassium and fibre. Reduce your intake of foods that are high in saturated and trans fat and sodium. Combine these efforts for the best effect.  

You may also be interested in:

What are the Benefits of Eating More Plant-Based Foods
Recipe Makeover: Reducing Sodium in the Kitchen
Hypertension: How to Prevent and Treat the Silent Killer
This article was written and reviewed by dietitians from Dietitians of Canada. The advice in this article is intended as general information and should not replace advice given by your dietitian or healthcare provider.

Last Update – January 15, 2023

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