The DASH Diet: Foods, Menus, FAQs, and Recipes

the-DASH-diet

Everything you need to know about The DASH Diet plan including foods to eat, menus, FAQs, shopping lists, and more. 

The DASH diet was strictly created because one of the leading causes as to why billions, yes billions, of people suffer from high blood pressure is the consumption of too much salt. Having high blood pressure is extremely serious and can lead to other serious diseases such as kidney failure, possible stroke, and heart disease. Because high blood pressure is continuing to rise doctors have worked together to find healthy ways to lower blood pressure and keep it under control. This is why doctors have come up with the DASH Diet.

What is the DASH Diet Plan?

Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension or the DASH Diet was created after scientists discovered that people who followed a more plant-based, vegetarian, or even vegan diet also seemed to have low or normal blood pressure. The DASH Diet focuses on following a more of a plant-based diet while allowed some lean protein and beans, along with the elimination of foods such as foods high in sugar, salt, and fat along with red meat.

Scientists believe that one of the leading causes of high blood pressure is high salt intake. On the DASH Diet, it is recommended to have no more than 1 teaspoon, or in some extreme cases of high blood pressure, less than 1 teaspoon of salt per day.

It should be noted that the DASH Diet was created to help reduce high blood pressure and it not necessary a weigh-loss program. If you do lose weight on this diet it is because you are changing your eating habits and reducing your daily sugar, salt, and fat intake.

Foods to Eat on The DASH Diet

The DASH Diet doesn’t lay out a specific diet of what to do, what to eat, and for how long, instead the diet recommends specific servings from different food groups. You are allowed things like whole grains, vegetables, fruits, dairy, nuts and seeds, lean meats, and healthy fats. Here is an example of what the breakdown looks like for each category.

Whole Grains: 6 to 8 Servings per Day

  • Whole-grain breads
  • Whole-grain pastas
  • Tortillas (whole-grain)
  • Rice
  • Quinoa
  • Oatmeal
  • Couscous

Vegetables: 4 to 5 Servings per Day

There are no restrictions on which type of vegetables are or are not allowed on the DASH diet. However, you might want to stick to vegetables that are less starchy, think green vegatables. Here’s a list of non-starchy vegetables.

  • Asparagus
  • Avocado
  • Bell Peppers
  • Broccoli
  • Brussels Sprouts
  • Cabbage
  • Cauliflower
  • Celery
  • Chile Peppers
  • Collard Greens
  • Cucumber
  • Eggplant
  • Green Beans
  • Kale
  • Leeks
  • Mushrooms
  • Okra
  • Olives (actually a fruit)
  • Spinach
  • Sprouts
  • Shallot
  • Snow Peas
  • Squash
  • Tomato
  • Zucchini

Fruits: 4 to 5 Servings per Day

It is recommended to eat a lot of fresh fruit on the DASH Diet. Seasonal fruits are probably to easiest to include in your grocery shopping and/or menu planning.

  • Apples
  • Pears
  • Peaches
  • Kiwi
  • Plum
  • Tangerines
  • Grapes
  • Melon
  • Pineapple
  • Oranges
  • Bananas
  • Berries
  • Dates
  • Apricots

Dairy Products: 2 to 3 Serving per Day

When eating dairy on this diet you want to stick to more low-fat dairy options.

  • Milk (low-fat)
  • Low-fat yogurt
  • Cheeses (low-fat)
  • Low-fat cottage cheese

Lean Meats and Poultry: 6 or Under Servings per Day

  • Chicken
  • Turkey
  • Cod
  • Mahi Mahi
  • Pollock
  • Tilapia
  • Fresh Tuna
  • Whitefish
  • Salmon 
  • Shrimp
  • Pork loin
  • Grass-Fed Beef
  • Egg (one per day)

Nuts, Seeds, and Beans: 4 to 5 Servings per Day

You can enjoy a wide variety of nuts, seeds, and beans however, make sure they are unsalted.

  • Almonds (unsalted)
  • Pistachios (unsalted)
  • Cashews (unsalted)
  • Walnuts (unsalted)
  • Peanuts (unsalted)
  • Peanut Butter (unsalted)
  • Almond Butter
  • Chia Seeds
  • Flax Seeds
  • Hemp Seeds
  • Sunflower Seeds
  • Sesame Seeds
  • Baked Beans (low sodium)
  • Green Beans
  • Cooked Lentils

Fats and Oils: 2 to 3 Servings per Day

  • Avocado
  • Soft Margarine/butter
  • Olive Oil
  • Avocado Oil
  • Canola Oil
  • Vegetable Oil
  • Mayonnaise
  • Salad Dressing (full fat)

Sweets, Sugar, Candy, and Desserts: Fewer than 5 Servings per Week

  • Sugar (1 tablespoon)
  • Raw sugar (1 tablespoon)
  • Brown sugar (1 tablespoon)
  • Honey (1 tablespoon)
  • Maple Syrup (1 tablespoon)
  • Molasses (1 tablespoon)
  • Agave (1 tablespoon)
  • Jelly or Jam (1 tablespoon)
  • Sorbet or Low-fat Ice Cream (1/2 cup)
  • Frozen Yogurt (1/2 cup)
  • Pudding (1/2 cup)
  • Jello (1/2 cup)
  • Dark Chocolate (1/2 cup)

Download our free checklists with all the approved DASH Diet foods (and what you should avoid.)

Foods not to Eat

They are no requirements of what not to eat on the DASH Diet however it is recommended to stay away from foods that are high in sodium. Stay away from lots of processed or sugary foods, and avoid foods that are high in fat.

What to Drink on the DASH Diet

There are no requirements of what to drink on the DASH Diet however you would want to drink more water and herbal teas throughout the day.

What Not to Drink

There are no requirements of what not to drink on the DASH Diet however you definitely want to limit your soda and sugary drink intake. You also might want to reduce the amount of coffee you are drinking. Drinking coffee can automatically increase your blood pressure.

7 Tips to Reduce Sodium Intake

Choosing foods low in sodium food choices is a great way to start at reducing your daily intake, however staying below 2,300 mg a day can still feel like a huge challenge. Sodium is found in a lot of different foods and almost every recipe on the planet calls for salt. Here are a few simple tips to help you cut your intake and stay on top of your DASH Diet eating plan.

  • Use other seasonings, herbs, and citrus when cooking to flavor your food besides salt.
  • Or avoid using salt in your recipe.
  • Track your daily food intake using an app to calculate exactly how much sodium you are eating.
  • Always check the nutrition facts and ingredients labels for hidden sources of sodium.
  • Avoid poultry packed with “broth,” “saline” or “sodium solution”.
  • Avoid canned vegetables and fruits, always buy frozen.
  • If you have to use a can drain and rinse all canned beans, and veggies before eating.
  • If your eating out at a restaurant ask for your meal to be cooked without salt. 
  • Watch out for anything that is pickled, brined, cured, smoked, or barbecued, or seasoned with broth, au jus, soy sauce, miso, tomato sauce, or Asian sauces. All of these are extremely high in sodium.

The Pros and Cons of the DASH Diet

Pros

Research has shown that the DASH diet can be used to help you start more healthy which may lead to helping to lower blood pressure and prevent or reduce the risk of cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, kidney disease, and gout.

Cons

  • Gas and bloating can be a side effect of this diet
  • You might not get exactly the weight-loss results you were looking for
  • People might find this diet to be too restrictive

Summary 

Thank you for reading our guide on the DASH diet. Please feel free to download and use our free embedded checklists. This will be helpful when creating your menus and making your grocery shopping list.