National Institutes of Health

The DASH Diet

This eating plan is from the "Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension" (DASH) clinical study. The research was funded by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI), with additional support by the National Center for Research Resources and the Office of Research on Minority Health, all units of the National Institutes of Health. DASH's final results appear in the April 17, 1997, issue of The New England Journal of Medicine. The results show that the DASH "combination diet" lowered blood pressure and, so, may help prevent and control high blood pressure.

The "combination diet" is rich in fruits, vegetables, and low fat dairy foods, and low in saturated and total fat. It also is low in cholesterol, high in dietary fiber, potassium, calcium, and magnesium, and moderately high in protein.

The DASH eating plan shown below is based on 2,000 calories a day. Depending on your caloric needs, your number of daily servings in a food group may vary from those listed.

Daily Servings Serving Sizes Examples and Notes Significance of each
Food Group to the
DASH Diet Pattern
Grains & grain products 7-8
  • 1 slice bread
  • 1/2 C dry cereal
  • 1/2 C cooked rice, pasta, or cereal
whole wheat bread, English muffin, pita bread, bagel, cereals, grits, oatmeal major sources of energy and fiber

Vegetables 4-5
  • 1 C raw leafy vegetable
  • 1/2 C cooked vegetable
  • 6 oz vegetable juice
tomatoes, potatoes, carrots, peas, squash, broccoli, turnip greens, collards, kale, spinach, artichokes, sweet potatoes, beans rich sources of potassium, magnesium, and fiber

Fruits 4-5
  • 6 oz fruit juice
  • 1 medium fruit
  • 1/4 C dried fruit
  • 1/2 C fresh, frozen, or canned fruit
apricots, bananas, dates, oranges, orange juice, grapefruit, grapefruit juice, mangoes, melons, peaches, pineapples, prunes, raisins, strawberries, tangerines important sources of potassium, magnesium, and fiber

Low fat or nonfat dairy foods 2-3
  • 8 oz milk
  • 1 C yogurt
  • 1.5 oz cheese
skim or 1% milk, skim or low fat buttermilk, nonfat or lowfat yogurt, part skim mozzarella cheese, nonfat cheese major sources of calcium and protein

Meats, poultry,
and fish
2 or less
  • 3 oz cooked meats, poultry, or fish
select only lean; trim away visible fats; broil, roast, or boil, instead of frying; remove skin from poultry rich sources of protein and magnesium

Nuts, seeds, and legumes 4-5 per week
  • 1.5 oz or 1/3 C nuts
  • 1/2 oz or 2 Tbsp seeds
  • 1/2 C cooked legumes
almonds, filberts, mixed nuts, peanuts, walnuts, sunflower seeds, kidney beans, lentils rich sources of energy, magnesium, potassium, protein, and fiber

The DASH Diet Sample Menu
based on 2,000 calories/day

Food Amount Servings
orange juice
1% low fat milk
corn flakes
(with 1 tsp sugar)
whole wheat bread
(with 1 Tbsp jelly)
soft margarine

6 oz
8 oz (1 C)
1 C

1 medium
1 slice

1 tsp

1 fruit
1 dairy
2 grains

1 fruit
1 grain

1 fat
chicken salad
pita bread
raw vegetable medley:
   carrot & celery sticks

   loose-leaf lettuce
part skim mozzarella
1% low fat milk
fruit cocktail in
   light syrup

3/4 C
1/2, large

3-4 sticks
2 leaves
1.5 slice
   (1.5 oz)
8 oz (1 C)
1/2 C

1 poultry
1 grain
1 vegetable

1 dairy

1 dairy
1 fruit
herbed baked cod
scallion rice
steamed broccoli
stewed tomatoes
spinach salad:
   raw spinach
   cherry tomatoes
light Italian salad
whole wheat dinner
soft margarine
melon balls

3 oz
1 C
1/2 C
1/2 C

1/2 C
2 slices
1 Tbsp

1 small

1 tsp
1/2 C

1 fish
2 grains
1 vegetable
1 vegetable
1 vegetable

1/2 fat

1 grain

1 fruit
dried apricots
mixed nuts
diet ginger ale

1 oz (1/4 C)
1 oz (3/4 C)
1.5 oz (1/3 C)
12 oz

1 fruit
1 grain
1 nuts

Total number of servings in 2,000 calories/day menu
Food Group  Servings
Grains = 8
Vegetables = 4
 = 5
Dairy Foods = 3
Meats, Poultry, & Fish = 2
Nuts, Seeds, & Legumes
 = 1
Fats & Oils = 2.5

Tips on Eating the DASH Way:
  • Start small. Make gradual changes in your eating habits.
  • Center your meal around carbohydrates, such as pasta, rice, beans, or vegetables.
  • Treat meat as one part of the whole meal, instead of the focus.
  • Use fruits or low fat, low-calorie foods such as sugar free gelatin for desserts and snacks.
If you use the DASH diet to help prevent or control high blood pressure, make it part of a lifestyle that includes choosing foods lower in salt and sodium, keeping a healthy weight, being physically active, and, if you drink alcohol, doing so in moderation.

To learn more about high blood pressure, call 1-800-575-WELL or visit the NHLBI web site at DASH is also online at