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Live Well: What is the DASH Diet?

February 9, 2024


The Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) diet is an eating style that has been around since 1997. Its claim to fame is that it helps reduce blood pressure, but the diet may also promote weight loss and lower the risk of cancer, metabolic syndrome, diabetes, and heart disease.

The DASH diet focuses on foods that are high in fiber, magnesium, calcium, and potassium, while limiting red meat and other foods that are high in fat, sodium, and sugar. In general, the diet encourages higher intakes of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, beans (legumes), nuts, seeds, monounsaturated oils, fish, lean meats, and low-fat dairy products.

The DASH diet also recommends minimizing certain foods:

  • Red meat: Limit to no more than once or twice a week.
  • Salt: Limit to 2,300 milligrams (about 1 teaspoon) or less each day.
  • Sweets: Limit candy, sweetened beverages, juices, and baked goods to 5 or fewer servings per week.
  • Saturated fats: Limit oils and fats that are solid at room temperature.
  • Alcohol: If you drink, use moderation, which is defined as 2 or fewer drinks per week.

One hallmark of the DASH diet is lower levels of sodium.

However, evidence is mixed on whether it is necessary to restrict sodium beyond 2,300 mg per day if you follow the DASH eating plan.

To get started with the DASH diet, look for creative ways to add more fruits and vegetables to your favorite recipes, and choose healthier substitutions when possible.

The DASH diet is not just for people with high blood pressure. Some evidence suggests the diet may also lead to weight loss when paired with a calorie deficit. Regardless of your health goals, eating a balanced diet of nutrient-dense foods like those included with the DASH eating plan can help you achieve better health.

Find out more about the DASH diet at