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A diet for hypertension (known as "Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension," or DASH) includes poultry, fish, whole grains, and nuts, and has reduced amounts of red meats, fats, sweets, and sugared beverages. Research studies have shown that a diet such as the DASH eating plan can reduce the risk of developing hypertension and can lower an already elevated blood pressure.

Is There a Diet for Hypertension?

Research studies have shown that following a hypertension diet (known as DASH) can both reduce the risk of developing high blood pressure and lower an already elevated blood pressure. In fact, two recent research studies have shown that by following this diet, blood pressure can be lowered by an amount similar to that seen with hypertension medicine.

The DASH Eating Plan

DASH stands for Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension. This diet has been studied in several clinical trials examining the effects of nutrients in food on blood pressure. Study results indicated that elevated blood pressures were reduced by a diet that emphasized vegetables, fruits, and low-fat dairy foods while being low in saturated fat, total fat, and cholesterol. The DASH diet includes:
  • Whole grains
  • Poultry
  • Fish
  • Nuts.
It has reduced amounts of:
  • Red meats
  • Fats
  • Sweets
  • Sugared beverages.
Another clinical study (known as DASH-Sodium) examined the effect of a reduced dietary sodium intake on blood pressure as people followed either the DASH high blood pressure diet or a typical American diet. The results of the DASH-Sodium study showed that reducing dietary sodium lowered blood pressure for both the DASH hypertension diet and the typical American diet. The biggest blood pressure-lowering benefits were for those eating the DASH eating plan at the lowest sodium level (1,500 milligrams per day).
The DASH-Sodium study shows the importance of lowering sodium intake, whatever diet you follow. But for a true winning hypertension diet, follow the DASH eating plan and lower your intake of salt.
(Click DASH Diet for more information on this diet for hypertension, or click Salt and High Blood Pressure for information on how to lower your sodium intake.)
Written by/reviewed by:
Last reviewed by: Arthur Schoenstadt, MD
Last updated/reviewed:
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