DASH Diet Secrets Revealed, Pt 1 (5:41)

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The overall goal of the DASH Diet — short for Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension — is to lower your consumption of sodium, which aids in lowering your blood pressure. Since the diet focuses on eating the right foods with the right portions, it’s also effective for short- and long-term weight loss. Find out more about the DASH Diet and if it’s right for you.

From This Episode:

Secrets of the #1 Diet Revealed

Dietician Marla Heller’s version of the DASH Diet, from her book The DASH Diet Weight Loss Solution, is divided into two phases:

Phase 1: Two Weeks to Shrink Your Waistline

During the 14 days of Phase 1, you will learn how to satisfy your hunger and, as a result, feel fuller longer. To regulate your blood sugar and help curb your cravings, avoid fruit and whole grains, which have a lot of natural sugar, and alcohol, which also contain sugars. That said, you can enjoy 2-3 servings of low-fat dairy per day. This would include 1 cup of skim milk or low-fat yogurt. Avoid regular or even fat-free cheese because they are often high in sodium.

By avoiding starchy foods with sugar, you’re helping to regulate your blood sugar and diminish cravings. Try leafy greens like lettuce and spinach or cruciferous vegetables like broccoli or cabbage. You can also eat cucumbers, squash, peppers, and tomatoes.

More: Dr. Oz’s Favorite Salad Recipes

You can also enjoy up to 6 ounces of lean meats, fish, and poultry a day. Aim for 4 to 5 servings of beans or lentils a week.
Opt for protein-rich foods that have healthy fats, like fresh nuts and seeds, or fatty fish like salmon or mackerel. Avocados are loaded with monounsaturated fats as well as antioxidants lutein, vitamin E and beta-carotene. Toss them in a salad along with vegetable oils, especially olive, canola and nut oils, which you can use as salad dressing.

More: The Healthy Fats Grocery Shopping List

Phase 2: Kick It Up a Notch!

After the first 14 days, you will continue to eat the foods from Phase 1 but re-introduce some other healthy foods that will help you continue your weight loss. How long does Phase 2 last? It’s your life plan, so it should last forever so you can keep your blood pressure low and keep weight off.

Whole Grains: Choose from cereals, breads, and pasta. Aim for 6 to 8 servings a day.

Fruit: Make fruit (fresh or frozen) a part of your diet every day. Aim for 4 to 5 servings a day. Try making these low-sugar fruits part of your diet.

Low-Fat Milk or Yogurt: Stick to 2 to 3 servings a day as in Phase 1.

Sugar: You can have 3 to 4 servings of sugary foods each week.

Alcohol: You can have a small glass of red wine occasionally, which represents one fruit serving.

The next page has a week’s worth of meals! Phase 1 has 3 sample days, and Phase 2 has 4 sample days.

Day 1


  • Hard-boiled egg. (Hint: Make several hard-boiled eggs, and peel. Store in a zipper bag in the refrigerator. Then you will have them when you need them for super-quick breakfasts. You can also find prepackaged, peeled hard-boiled eggs in some stores).
  • 1 or 2 slices Canadian bacon
  • 6 ounces tomato juice, low-sodium

Midmorning Snack

  • 1 stick light cheese
  • Baby carrots

More: Grasp the DASH Diet in 5 Clicks


  • Quinoa Meatless Balls
  • Cherry tomatoes
  • Small side salad: dressed with Italian or oil and vinegar dressing
  • Strawberry Jell‑O cup, sugar-free

Midafternoon Snack

  • 4 ounces lemon light yogurt, fat-free, artificially sweetened
  • 18 cashews (1 ounce by weight, 1/4 cup by volume, or small handful)

Before-Dinner Snack (Optional)

  • Pepper strips. (Hint: To make the strips quickly, cut off the tops and bottoms of some red, yellow, or orange bell peppers. Remove seeds and cut in half. Flatten each half and take a very sharp knife and cut along the surface, removing the membranes. Then cut into 1‑inch strips. These are great to dip into guacamole, as a chip substitute).
  • 2 ounces guacamole, which is about 1/4 cup


  • Mediterranean-Style Chicken Kabobs
  • 1 cup (or more) mixed carrots, broccoli, and cauliflower blend: steamed or microwaved
  • Salad: Romaine blend with Italian dressing
  • Raspberry Jell‑O cup, sugar-free

More: The DASH Diet Tracking Chart

Day 2


  • Mini-Egg Beaters Southwestern Style omelet. Spray microwave-safe dish or cup with cooking spray. Add 1/4-1/2 cup Egg Beaters Southwestern Style. Microwave on high for 1 minute. Stir, and cook an additional 15 seconds.
  • 4-6 ounces tomato juice, low-sodium

Midmorning Snack

  • 1 light cheese wedge
  • 6 grape tomatoes


  • 2-3 Turkey-Swiss roll-ups. Cheese on the outside, as the wrap. Deli turkey slices for the meat. Add whatever condiments you like, such as mustard. You could also add lettuce as the outermost layer of the wrap.
  • 1/2-1 cup coleslaw
  • Raw snow peas or sugar snap pea pods (as much as you like)
  • Orange Jell‑O cup, sugar-free

Midafternoon Snack

  • 1 stick light cheese
  • Baby carrots

Before-Dinner Snack (Optional)

  • 10 peanuts in the shell (20 individual peanuts) (Hint: Shelling nuts slows you down, so you are less likely to overeat them.)


  • Roasted sliced turkey
  • Sautéed carrots and onions. Sauté 1 medium onion, thinly sliced, in 1 tablespoon olive oil or canola oil. Add about 8 ounces sliced carrots, and continue to sauté until the carrots are soft. Add 1 thin pat of butter at the end. (Hints: Top the turkey with the sautéed carrots for extra flavor. If you like very soft carrots, microwave first before sautéing.)
  • Side salad topped with Italian dressing
  • Lime Jell‑O cup, sugar-free

More: Dr. Oz Explains the DASH Diet

Day 3


  • Scrambled eggs
  • 1-2 slices Canadian bacon
  • 4-6 ounces diet cranberry juice

Midmorning Snack

  • 4 ounces raspberry light yogurt, nonfat, artificially sweetened
  • 23 almonds (1 ounce by weight, 1/4 cup by volume)


  • Cold fried chicken breast (don’t eat the skin or coating). Hint: The chicken doesn’t have to be cold. This could be a fast-food lunch but only if you can choose whole chicken parts. (Definitely do not choose chicken tenders, patties, crispy chicken, or nuggets. They have too much breading for the amount of meat.) Most fried chicken places have coleslaw as a side. When you get back to your office, you can have the carrots and Jell‑O.
  • Coleslaw
  • Baby carrots
  • Lemon Jell‑O cup, sugar-free

Midafternoon Snack

  • 1-2 light cheese wedges
  • 6 grape tomatoes

Before-Dinner Snack (Optional)

  • Pepper strips
  • Guacamole


  • Turkey Burger
  • 1 cup broccoli
  • Side salad with balsamic dressing
  • 1-2 strawberry Jell‑O cups, sugar-free

Day 1


  • 3/4 cup Wheaties (1 ounce by weight)
  • 8 ounces skim milk
  • 4-6 ounces strawberries or raspberries

Midmorning Snack (Optional)

  • 1-2 light cheese wedges
  • Grape tomatoes


  • 2-3 turkey and Swiss roll-ups
  • Baby carrots
  • Small plum

Midafternoon Snack

  • 6 ounces blueberry light yogurt
  • 10 cashews

Before-Dinner Snack (Optional)

  • 10 peanuts in the shell (20 individual peanuts)


  • Pan-seared tilapia. Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Cook about 4 minutes per side, or until the fish flakes easily with a fork. Before finishing, place about 1 pat of butter or margarine in the pan, and allow the melted butter to coat all the pieces. (To serve four, choose four 4‑ounce tilapia filets.)
  • Mango-Melon Salsa
  • Fresh asparagus
  • Strawberry Jello‑O cup, sugar-free

More: The Complete DASH Diet Guide


  • Hot chocolate. To 8 ounces skim milk, add 1 heaping teaspoon unsweetened cocoa and 2 packets Splenda or Truvia.
  • 1-2 hard-boiled eggs
  • 6-8 ounces light cranberry juice. Hint: Light cranberry juice has more calories than the diet version, but you may prefer it.
  • 4-6 ounces strawberries

Midmorning Snack (Optional)

  • 6 ounces key lime light yogurt, nonfat, artificially sweetened
  • 10 ounces almonds


  • Turkey and Swiss sandwich. Put 2-4 ounces turkey and a slice of reduced-fat Swiss cheese on two pieces light whole wheat bread; add lettuce, tomato, and any other veggies or condiments that you choose.
  • Pepper strips
  • Coleslaw or side salad
  • Raspberry Jell‑O cup, artificially sweetened

Midafternoon Snack

  • 1 clementine orange
  • 1-2 light cheese wedges

Before-Dinner Snack (Optional)

  • Pepper strips
  • 1/4-1/2 cup hummus


  • Vegetable Stir Fry with Quinoa
  • Side salad, with Italian, oil and vinegar, or vinaigrette dressing
  • Fudge bar


  • 1/2 cup oatmeal, cooked: topped with cinnamon, Splenda Brown Sugar Blend, or Truvia, and 1 tablespoon chopped almonds (optional)
  • 1/2 banana, medium or large
  • 4-6 ounces tomato juice, low-sodium
  • Latte: 8 ounces skim milk, 2 ounces espresso

Midmorning Snack (Optional)

  • 1 stick light cheese
  • Baby carrots


  • Three-Bean Kale Saute with Brown Rice
  • Sliced bell peppers
  • Orange Jello‑O cup, artificially sweetened

Midafternoon Snack

  • 4-6 ounces strawberries
  • 10 cashews

Before-Dinner Snack (Optional)

  • 10 peanuts in the shell (20 individual peanuts)


  • White Bean and Cabbage Soup
  • Green beans
  • Sliced tomatoes
  • Side salad, with Italian dressing
  • 4-6 ounces raspberries on 1/2-1 cup frozen yogurt, nonfat, artificially sweetened

Day 4


  • 1-3 scrambled eggs
  • 1 slice whole-wheat toast (light, if desired)
  • 1 tablespoon jelly or jam
  • 4-6 ounces orange juice
  • Latte or 8 ounces skim milk

Midmorning Snack (Optional)

  • 4-6 ounces blueberries
  • 10 almonds


  • 2-3 Muenster cheese and roast beef roll-ups. (Hint: Accessorize per your taste. You could add lettuce for the wrap and stuff with grated carrots or red cabbage in the center.)
  • Italian coleslaw (Hint: This is regular coleslaw with thin pepper strips, grated carrots, and an oil and vinegar dressing.)
  • Small peach

Midafternoon Snack

  • 6 ounces strawberry light yogurt, nonfat, artificially sweetened

Before-Dinner Snack (Optional)

  • Baby carrots dipped in 2 tablespoons peanut butter


  • Salmon Stuffed Avocado
  • Side salad: Lettuce, grape tomatoes, red cabbage and blue cheese crumbles or small slice of goat cheese, with oil and vinegar or vinaigrette dressing.
  • Fudge bar or other low-calorie, low-sugar, low-fat ice cream bar

The DASH Diet Is One of the Top Ranked Weight Loss Plans—Here’s What It’s All About

Last week, when the annual best diets list from U.S. News and World Report came out, the DASH diet once again made the cut—praised for its ability to help people lose weight or simply improve their overall health.

This recent buzz has put DASH back in the headlines again. But what exactly is the DASH diet, and is it something you should try? As a registered dietitian nutritionist, I have counseled people through it; in my opinion there are pros and cons.

RELATED: The Best Diets of 2019—and Why The Keto Diet Ranked So Low

What exactly is the DASH diet?

DASH stands for Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension, yet it’s not only effective for people trying to lower their blood pressure. The diet has been around for two decades, and studies have shown that it can lead to weight loss, protect heart health, and lower the risk of type 2 diabetes, metabolic syndrome, and certain cancers. For these reasons, it’s promoted by the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

The plan is relatively simple. DASH recommends specific portions from a variety of food groups daily, depending on your daily calorie needs (which are determined by your age, sex, and activity level). For example, a 1600 calorie DASH diet includes 6 servings of grains daily; 3-4 servings of vegetables; 4 servings of fruit; and 2-3 servings of low-fat dairy. Also recommended are 3-4 ounces total per day of lean meat, poultry, or fish; 3-4 servings of nuts, seeds, and legumes per week; and 2 servings of fats and oils daily.

DASH puts limits on sugar, recommending 3 or fewer servings per week of sweets. It also curtails sodium intake to a maximum of 2,300 mg per day. The diet is intended to be part of a lifestyle that reduces alcohol consumption and emphasizes stress reduction, physical activity, not smoking, and getting plenty of sleep. In short, it’s not a fad diet. DASH is meant to be followed for the long haul.

RELATED: The Number One Thing You Need to Do to Lose Weight Forever, According to Experts

DASH drawbacks to consider

But DASH does have some drawbacks. The plan is lower in healthful fats than I usually recommend, and there aren’t obvious options for people who can’t or don’t eat dairy or animal proteins. Also, I typically advise a higher intake of non-starchy veggies and slightly lower consumption of starches.

Another con is that the rate of weight loss with DASH can be slow. To see continued progress, it’s important to pinpoint your ideal calorie level and follow the recommended portions carefully—in other words, two level tablespoons of nut butter, not two heaping spoonfuls.

RELATED: I Just Finished Whole30 and Lived to Tell the Tale—Here’s How I Made It Through

Why Dash can work for weight loss

Yet DASH offers a number of positives. In addition to being very sensible, nutrient-rich, and effective, DASH is fairly straightforward and sustainable. Many books and cookbooks are available to help DASH dieters figure out how to transform the daily servings from all the different food groups into practical meals and snacks.

In my practice I have helped clients create outlines that make sense for meal planning (for example, including one serving of fruit with breakfast, lunch, dinner, and a snack; one serving of veggies at lunch and two at dinner; two servings of starch at breakfast, lunch, and dinner; and so on). This type of framework is essential for implementing the diet daily. Understanding how to order from restaurant or takeout menus is also important.

Bottom line: DASH is tried and true. If your goal is weight loss, DASH won’t melt the pounds off quickly. But if you identify the proper calorie level and stick with it consistently, it can be a safe, effective, and sustainable way to shed pounds, and simultaneously improve your health.

Because DASH has been around for so long and is well accepted by health professionals, there are a lot of free resources online to access help. However, if you have trouble figuring out how to take the recommended daily and weekly DASH servings and turn them into menus, consult with a registered dietitian nutritionist. He or she can also personalize the plan for your needs by adjusting for food allergies or intolerances and offering tips for following the plan as a vegan or vegetarian.

To get started, go to the NIH’s DASH page. Keep in mind that some aspects of the plan will work for you, but others may not. Ultimately the best diet is one that generates results, makes you feel well physically and emotionally, and has stick-with-it-ness.

Cynthia Sass, MPH, RD, is Health’s contributing nutrition editor, a New York Times best-selling author, and a consultant for the New York Yankees and Brooklyn Nets.

To get more nutrition tips delivered to your inbox, sign up for the Healthy Living newsletter

7-Day DASH Diet Menu

Voted the “Best Diet Overall” for eight years in a row (from 2009 till 2017) by U.S. News & World Report, the DASH diet can help you meet and maintain your health goals. The original intention of the DASH Diet (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) was to help lower high blood pressure (or hypertension), which research shows it does well. But even if you don’t have high blood pressure, you might benefit from trying the DASH Diet, as research also shows it promotes weight loss and combats diabetes, all while being easy to follow and nutritious.

Don’t Miss: Healthy DASH Diet Recipes

The focus of the DASH Diet is more about what you can eat, rather than cutting foods out, like many trendy diets do these days, such as Whole30 and the ketogenic diet, which call to eliminate certain food groups altogether. The basic idea is to load up on fruits and veggies, choose whole grains over refined, include calcium-rich dairy items, and eat modest amounts of lean meat and fish. By including plenty of healthy whole foods each day, you naturally eliminate some of the not-so-great foods (like added sugars and unhealthy fats). With this week’s meal plan, we make it even easier to follow the DASH Diet with 7 days of healthy and delicious meals and snacks.

Related: How to Follow the DASH Diet

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Breakfast (266 calories)

Egg Toast with Salsa

  • 1 slice whole-wheat bread, toasted
  • 1 egg, cooked in 1/4 tsp. olive oil
  • Pinch each of salt and pepper
  • 2 Tbsp. pico de gallo or salsa

Top bread with the egg, salt, pepper and pico de gallo.

  • 1 medium banana

A.M. Snack (102 calories)

  • 1 pear, sliced topped with cinnamon

Lunch (325 calories)

  • 1 serving Veggie-Hummus Sandwich

P.M. Snack (48 calories)

  • 3/4 cup raspberries

Dinner (450 calories)

  • 1 serving Lemon-Herb Salmon with Caponata & Farro

Daily Totals: 1,192 calories, 60 g protein, 161 g carbohydrates, 37 g fiber, 40 g fat, 1,438 mg sodium

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Breakfast (258 calories)

Fig & Honey Yogurt

  • 2/3 cup nonfat plain Greek yogurt
  • 5 dried figs, chopped
  • 2 tsp. chia seeds
  • 1 1/2 tsp. honey

Top yogurt with figs, chia seeds and honey.

A.M. Snack (52 calories)

  • 1/2 cup grapes

Lunch (350 calories)

White Bean & Avocado Salad

  • 2 cups mixed greens
  • 3/4 cup chopped veggies, such as cucumber and cherry tomatoes
  • 1/3 cup canned white beans, rinsed
  • 1/2 avocado, diced
  • 2 Tbsp. All-Purpose Vinaigrette

Top salad greens with veggies, beans, avocado and vinaigrette. Toss to combine.

P.M. Snack (35 calories)

  • 1 clementine

Dinner (489 calories)

  • 1 serving Curried Cauliflower Steaks with Red Rice & Tzatziki
  • 1 serving Chocolate & Nut Butter Bites, to enjoy after dinner

Daily Totals: 1,184 calories, 41 g protein, 155 g carbohydrates, 30 g fiber, 53 g fat, 818 mg sodium

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  • 1 serving Peanut-Butter Cinnamon Toast

A.M. Snack (64 calories)

  • 1 cup raspberries

Lunch (342 calories)

  • 1 serving Salmon Pita Sandwich (save the other half of the pita for lunch on Day 5)
  • 1 cup grapes

P.M. Snack (102 calories)

  • 1 medium pear, sliced topped with cinnamon

Dinner (437 calories)

  • 1 serving Mediterranean Chicken with Orzo Salad
  • 1 clementine, to enjoy after dinner

Daily Totals: 1,212 calories, 69 g protein, 164 g carbohydrates, 30 g fiber, 35 g fat, 1,234 mg sodium

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Breakfast (251 calories)

Yogurt with Nuts & Raspberries

  • 1 cup nonfat plain Greek yogurt
  • 1/2 cup raspberries
  • 5 walnuts, chopped
  • 1 tsp. honey

Top yogurt with raspberries, walnuts and honey.

A.M. Snack 951 calories)

  • 1 medium apple, sliced sprinkled with cinnamon

Lunch (332 calories)

  • 1 serving White Bean & Avocado Toast
  • 1 1/2 cups mixed greens
  • 1/2 cup cucumber slices
  • 2 Tbsp. grated carrot
  • 1 Tbsp. All-Purpose Vinaigrette

Top salad greens with cucumber, carrot and vinaigrette. Toss to combine.

P.M. Snack (30 calories)

  • 1 medium plum

Dinner (472 calories)

  • 1 serving Stuffed Sweet Potato with Hummus Dressing

Daily Totals: 1,181 calories, 58 g protein, 176 g carbohydrates, 46 g fiber, 36 g fat, 976 mg sodium

Day 5

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  • 1 serving Peanut-Butter Cinnamon Toast

A.M. Snack (70 calories)

  • 2 clementines

Green Salad with Pita Bread & Hummus

  • 2 cups mixed greens
  • 1/4 cup grated carrot
  • 1/2 cup sliced cucumber
  • 2 Tbsp. All-Purpose Vinaigrette
  • 1/2 large whole-wheat pita round
  • 1/4 cup hummus

Top greens with carrot, cucumber and vinaigrette. Serve with pita bread and hummus

  • 1 medium plum

P.M. Snack (104 calories)

  • 1 cup grapes

Dinner (412 calories)

  • 1 1/2 cups Chicken Chili with Sweet Potatoes
  • 1/4 avocado, diced
  • 1 Tbsp. nonfat plain Greek yogurt

Top chili with avocado and yogurt.

Meal-Prep Tip: Save 1 1/2 cups of the chili for lunch on Day 7.

Daily Totals: 1,184 calories, 50 g protein, 166 g carbohydrates, 31 g fiber, 42 g fat, 1,322 mg sodium

Day 6

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Fig & Honey Yogurt

  • 2/3 cup nonfat plain Greek yogurt
  • 5 dried figs, chopped
  • 2 tsp. chia seeds
  • 1 1/2 tsp. honey

Top yogurt with figs, chia seeds and honey.

  • 1 cup raspberries

Turkey & Pear Pita Melt

  • 1/2 large whole-wheat pita round (save the other half of the pita for a snack on Day 7)
  • 3 1/2 oz. low-sodium deli turkey
  • 1 medium pear, sliced
  • 1 Tbsp. shredded Cheddar cheese
  • 1 cup mixed greens

Stuff pita pocket with turkey, half of the pear slices and cheese. Toast in a toaster oven until the cheese starts to melt. Add greens to the pita just before eating. Serve the remaining pear slices on the side.

P.M. Snack (83 calories)

  • 1 medium plum
  • 4 walnuts halves

Dinner (469 calories)

  • 1 serving Lemon-Garlic Shrimp over Orzo with Zucchini
  • 1 clementine plus 1 serving Chocolate & Nut Butter Bites, to enjoy after dinner

Daily Totals: 1,216 calories, 80 g protein, 162 g carbohydrates, 30 g fiber, 31 g fat, 1,290 mg sodium

Day 7

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Egg Toast with Salsa

  • 1 slice whole-wheat bread, toasted
  • 1 egg, cooked in 1/4 tsp. olive oil
  • Pinch each of salt and pepper
  • 2 Tbsp. pico de gallo or salsa

Top bread with egg, salt, pepper and pico de gallo.

  • 1 medium banana

A.M. Snack (136 calories)

  • 1/2 large whole-wheat pita round, toasted
  • 2 Tbsp. hummus

Lunch (324 calories)

  • 1 1/2 cups Chicken Chili with Sweet Potatoes

P.M. Snack (32 calories)

  • 1/2 cup raspberries

Dinner (448 calories)

  • 1 1/3 cups Creamy Fettuccine with Brussels Sprouts & Mushrooms
  • 1/2 ounce dark chocolate, to enjoy after dinner

Daily Totals: 1,205 calories, 62 g protein, 171 g carbohydrates, 30 g fiber, 36 g fat, 1,754 mg sodium

Watch: Lemon-Garlic Shrimp over Orzo with Zucchini

Don’t Miss!

DASH Diet Meal Plan

7-Day Mediterranean Diet Meal Plan

Starting the DASH Diet

The DASH diet calls for a certain number of servings daily from various food groups. The number of servings you require may vary, depending on how many calories you need per day.

You can make gradual changes. For instance, start by limiting yourself to 2,400 milligrams of sodium per day (about 1 teaspoon). Then, once your body has adjusted to the diet, cut back to 1,500 milligrams of sodium per day (about 2/3 teaspoon). These amounts include all sodium eaten, including sodium in food products as well as in what you cook with or add at the table.

Dash Diet Tips

  • Add a serving of vegetables at lunch and at dinner.
  • Add a serving of fruit to your meals or as a snack. Canned and dried fruits are easy to use, but check that they don’t have added sugar.
  • Use only half your typical serving of butter, margarine, or salad dressing, and use low-fat or fat-free condiments.
  • Drink low-fat or skim dairy products any time you would normally use full-fat or cream.
  • Limit meat to 6 ounces a day. Make some meals vegetarian.
  • Add more vegetables and dry beans to your diet.
  • Instead of snacking on chips or sweets, eat unsalted pretzels or nuts, raisins, low-fat and fat-free yogurt, frozen yogurt, unsalted plain popcorn with no butter, and raw vegetables.
  • Read food labels to choose products that are lower in sodium.


Lower your blood pressure naturally in 1 week with our sample DASH diet menu. Here at Qardio, we love the DASH Diet! The acronym stands for ‘Dietary Approach to Stop Hypertension’, and it’s a tasty approach to healthy eating that’s specifically designed to prevent and treat high blood pressure.

Reduce your blood pressure
Rather than encouraging faddy eating, tiny portions or impossible juice fasts, the DASH diet encourages you to be smarter about food. You fill up on whole grains, fruits, vegetables and low-fat dairy products, while minimising red meat, sugary goods, fats and sodium. This way, you naturally reduce the amount of saturated fat and cholesterol you’re consuming and start eating more foods rich in potassium, calcium and magnesium – the nutrients which help to reduce your blood pressure.

7 day menu
We’ve put together a simple, no-fuss 7 day menu to get you eating the DASH way, so you can enjoy all the delicious foods you like, while lowering your blood pressure at the same time. Measure your blood pressure the day before you start and then again one week later. You’ll be surprised by the difference!

Day 1
Breakfast – Apple Spiced Baked Oatmeal
Lunch – Roasted Parsnip Soup
Dinner – Mediterranean Lemon Chicken And Rosemary Potatoes

Tip: Removing the skin from your chicken helps to cut the fat content of the Mediterranean lemon chicken – and with all the lemon and herbs, its still delicious!

Day 2
Breakfast – Banana Nut Pancakes
Lunch – Grilled Chicken Salad With Olives And Oranges
Dinner – Poached Salmon And Mustard-Dill Sauce

Tip: Starting the day with a healthy, wholewheat pancake recipe helps to keep you full during the day and reduce snacking.

Day 3
Breakfast – Spinach, Mushroom And Feta Cheese Scramble
Lunch – Southwestern Style Rice Bowl
Dinner – Asian Beef And Noodles

Tip: Spinach is a heart-healthy superfood which is said to lower homocysteine levels, an amino acid – high levels of homocysteine are associated with heart disease.

Day 4
Breakfast – Egg And Tomato Breakfast Melts
Lunch – Salmon Salad Pitta
Dinner – Wild Rice Stuffed Tomatoes

Tip: Salmon is super rich in omega-3 fatty acids and is proven to effectively reduce blood pressure – two servings a week can cut your risk of heart disease by up to one third.

Day 5
Breakfast – Breakfast Bread Pudding
Lunch – Apple-Swiss Panini
Dinner – Grilled Pesto Shrimp Skewers

Tip: Always aim to make the dairy you consume low-fat or fat-free to reduce the amount of total saturated fat.

Day 6
Breakfast – Wholewheat Pumpkin Pancakes
Lunch – Southwestern Black Bean Cakes With Guacamole
Dinner – Sesame-Honey Chicken And Quinoa Bowl

Tip: The DASH diet encourages you to base your meals around filling foods, so black beans and quinoa are a perfect combination. Healthy, nutritious and keeping you fuller for longer.

Day 7
Breakfast – Turkey, Sausage And Mushroom Strata
Lunch – Spinach, Mushroom And Mozzarella Wraps
Dinner – Tex-Mex Loaded Baked Sweet Potatoes

Tip: Lean meats like turkey are ideal when you’re following the DASH diet – just remember that your daily goal is 6 ounces or less per day, so keep your portions small.

So there you have it – a week on the DASH diet, and your first step to lowering your blood pressure the natural way. Share your DASH diet experience with us at Facebook or Twitter.
American Heart Association

The DASH Diet Is Great For Weight Loss, So Why Is No One Following It?

The DASH diet often flies under the radar, especially when compared to buzzy diets such as the Keto diet, but it’s one of the most widely-respected diets out there. U.S. News & World Report has named it the “Best Diet Overall” for eight consecutive years in its annual diet rankings, and it’s recommended by the American Heart Association, who used it to develop their 2010 Dietary Guidelines.

RELATED: The 2 Diets You Should Try in 2018, According to Experts

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With virtually no food groups as off-limits, DASH offers much more flexibility than other popular diet plans. It can also aid in weight loss and weight maintenance, given its emphasis on overall health. With all its praiseworthy qualities, you’d think everyone would be following a DASH diet plan. But here’s the surprising truth—less than 2 percent of the population actually follows the DASH diet.

How could this be? Let’s take a closer look at the DASH diet to find out for ourselves.

What Is the DASH Diet?

DASH stands for “Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension.” The diet was developed out of a study by the National Institutes of Health after researchers noticed that vegetarians tended to have lower rates of high blood pressure. Understanding that sodium intake affected blood pressure, researchers also believed that these levels may also be impacted by other nutrients in plant-based diets.

Enter the DASH diet. When individuals followed this eating plan, researchers saw dramatic reductions in blood pressure levels. Today, the eating plan is recommended for preventing and treating hypertension and heart disease—and it has been linked to decreased bone deterioration, improved insulin sensitivity, and possible risk reduction for some cancers.

How to Follow a DASH Diet Plan:

Image zoom Okea / Getty Images

The DASH diet plan focus on increasing vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and legumes; choosing lean meats, low-fat dairy, nuts and healthy fats; and limiting added sugars, trans fats, added salt, and processed foods. Serving sizes from each food group are based on individual calorie needs (see below for a 1600-calorie plan), and you’ll likely find that the plan looks pretty close to the MyPlate plan, as well as another consistently rated “top diet,” the Mediterranean Diet. Here’s a breakdown of the recommended nutrients in a typical day and week on the DASH diet:

Nutrients Per Day:

  • Grains: 6 servings
  • Vegetables: 3-4 servings
  • Fruits: 4 servings
  • Low-Fat or Fat-Free Dairy: 2-3 servings
  • Lean Meat, Poultry, or Fish: 4 ounces or less
  • Fat/oils: 2 servings
  • Sodium: 2300 mg or less

Nutrients Per Week:

  • Nuts, seeds, and legumes: 3-4 times per week
  • Sweets and added sugars: 3 servings or less

The secret to DASH’s success is its emphasis on increasing vegetables, fruits, and whole foods that are naturally low in sodium and high in potassium. While most know that reducing sodium is essential, many don’t realize that getting adequate potassium intake is just as key for regulating blood pressure.

RELATED: More Than Half of Americans’ Calories Come From Processed Foods

When foods are processed, their potassium levels actually decrease. So, choosing whole or minimally processed foods can improve blood pressure regulation from both a sodium and a potassium perspective. In addition, you’ll usually decrease your intake of saturated fat, added sugars, and overall calories—all of which can help you lose weight, and keep it off for good.

So—Why Does DASH Have So Few Followers?

DASH’s lack of followers seems to come down to misconceptions that people have about it. Here are some common perceptions about the DASH diet, including what is—and what isn’t—true.

Misconception #1: The DASH Diet is Only for People With High Blood Pressure.

Image zoom Jessica Pettway for TIME

The DASH diet was created when researchers were looking for ways to effectively reduce hypertension, but this was over 20 years ago! Though it’s still often marketed as a treatment for high blood pressure, the DASH eating plan is really an ideal way to eat for overall health, weight maintenance, and chronic disease prevention. In fact, studies suggest that DASH lowers risk for heart disease, type 2 diabetes and metabolic syndrome, and some cancers.

Also, people with high blood pressure aren’t the only ones who need to worry about sodium intake. Data suggests that 90 percent of Americans exceed sodium’s max limit (3500mg) daily. Regularly going over this amount takes a toll on your body—even healthy bodies—over time.

Misconception #2: “Low-Sodium” and “No-Salt” are the DASH Diet’s Sole Focus.

Sodium reduction is part of the DASH equation, but it’s not the only focus. Eating by DASH recommendations also increases your intake of potassium, calcium, magnesium and fiber—all nutrients that play a role in cardiovascular health, as well as the prevention of other chronic diseases. It’s thought to be the combination of increasing your intake of these nutrients and decreasing your intake of added sugar, salt, sodium and unhealthy fats that leads to lower blood pressure and a laundry list of other long-term health benefits.

RELATED: 7 Ways to Keep Food Tasty While Decreasing Your Sodium

Also, reducing sodium doesn’t restrict you to boring, bland food, nor does it mean you have to toss out the salt shaker. Yes, reducing the amount of salt you use and choosing lower-sodium products are key, but opting for fresh foods or whole foods instead of boxed, canned, and ready-to-heat items makes a big enough impact. Experiment with spices and herbs, and use a little salt to enhance flavor. Salt should never be the sole flavoring or seasoning in any in dish.

Misconception #3: The DASH Diet is Unapproachable.

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Many equate healthy eating, particularly lower-sodium eating such as DASH, with the idea that all meals have to be cooked from scratch. This is overwhelming for many (myself included), but there are plenty of tricks and tips to help you. First, understand that “whole foods” doesn’t exclusively mean fresh produce. Take advantage of time-saving, minimally processed foods like unseasoned frozen vegetables and no-salt-added canned veggies.

Two additional shortcuts that can easily be worked into a DASH diet plan are meal prepping and batch cooking—both of which are important for quick, healthy eating. Meal prepping doesn’t have to mean cooking a full meal, either. It’s just preparing components that can be used to toss together a quick meal—like baking chicken breasts, roasting vegetables, and cooking a whole grain like quinoa. You can also minimize time spent in the kitchen by buying weekly salad greens, bags of pre-cut veggies, and prepping produce at the start of the week.

Misconception #4: DASH is a “Diet” That You Follow Intermittently.

Image zoom Halfpoint / Getty Images

Perhaps the biggest thing that holds people back from following DASH is approaching it with an “all-or-nothing” attitude. However, DASH does not fall under the common “diet” approach of following an eating plan for a few weeks and then returning to your old way of eating. After all, no one’s diet is perfect. Like the Mediterranean Diet, the DASH diet is best viewed as a healthy way of living and eating. Making small, gradual changes in your food choices—and food quality—can help you form healthier habits for life.

layered chicken enchilada casserole

Who doesn’t need a healthy, quick, easy and delicious weeknight dinner recipe? This Layered Chicken Enchilada Casserole is ready in just 40 minutes, a snap to make, super yummy and kid friendly. The simple homemade enchilada sauce takes this dish over the top. Gluten Free version, too!

~ It’s Stephanie here with a new cookbook review!

What happens when two registered dietitians, Andy DeSantis and Julie Andrews, have a meeting of the minds? You get a super comprehensive book that is so much more than a cookbook. It’s more of a lifestyle book called The 28-Day DASH Diet Weight-Loss Program.

The first third of the book is dedicated to explaining the concepts and benefits of the DASH Diet, describing the important role that regular exercise, sleep and stress management play and then going into a detailed 28-day plan to help get you started. I love the holistic approach this book takes to improving your overall health. There is so much more to it than just a bunch of awesome recipes.

What is the DASH Diet

  • DASH stands for Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension and was developed to help lower or control high blood pressure.
  • Focus on eating more fruits, vegetables, low-fat dairy foods, whole grains, fish, poultry and nuts.
  • Cut back on foods that are high in saturated fats, cholesterol and trans fat.
  • Limit sodium, sweets, sugary drinks and red meat.

As you can see this Layered Chicken Enchilada Casserole fits right into the DASH Diet approach. It features seasoned lean ground chicken, veggies, whole-wheat tortillas and low-fat dairy Greek yogurt. The flavor is really amped up with a little jalapeño, homemade taco seasoning and enchilada sauce and creamy avocado, fresh cilantro and cool yogurt toppings. It’s a real crowd pleaser!

How this Chicken Enchilada Casserole is Healthier

Saute The Vegetables First

  • Sautéing the onions, bell pepper and jalapeño in a little avocado or organic canola oil helps to soften the vegetables and and gets those flavors all mingling together.

How to Add Flavor to the Chicken Enchilada Filling

  • Spices: Ground chicken on its own is a bit bland, but throw in a little taco seasoning and chopped garlic and you’ll really get the party started. It’s always amazing to me how much a pinch of this or a spoonful of that spice can truly transform a dish, so open up that spice cabinet and go wild. The best part is that spices add so much flavor without adding calories or fat.
  • Homemade Taco Seasoning: Have you ever looked at the ingredient list of some of those taco seasoning packets? Some of them are scary. Tons of added sodium and preservatives. Ugh! Making taco seasoning is easy. You probably already have most of the ingredients, so you’ll save money, too!

Make The Sauce From Scratch

  • Now that you’re making your own taco seasoning you might as well take a few extra minutes and make your own enchilada sauce (keep reading for the instructions). You’ll be so glad you did! It’s super simple and delicious. And you’ll have extra to freeze, which is a good thing because your family is going to want you to make this layered chicken enchilada casserole again for sure.
  • Get to layering! Trim the tortillas to fit in the pan and just start layering all of those yummy ingredients… meat, sauce and cheese and then bake. The casserole comes together in a snap and bakes in just 20 minutes.

I love that the ingredients are just layered into the pan and baked. Super quick and easy to throw together on a weeknight. And it reheats well making it an awesome next day lunch option, too.

You can make it gluten free by using corn tortillas and sub in ground turkey, lean ground beef or pork to mix it up. Topping it with creamy and cool low fat Greek yogurt, fresh cilantro and creamy avocado is in just one word… spectacular!

Canned enchilada sauce can sometimes include an entire days worth of sodium. Yikes!! Making it from scratch is not only healthier, but really delicious and it can be made ahead and frozen. It’s actually probably more economical, too.

How To Make Homemade Enchilada Sauce

  1. Heat 2 tablespoons avocado or organic canola oil in a saucepan over medium heat. Chop half an onion, add it to the pan and sauté for 3-4 minutes. Stir in 5 chopped garlic cloves and sauté for 30-60 seconds.
  2. Transfer the onion mixture to a blender, add 1 1/2 cups homemade stock or store-bought unsalted chicken or vegetable stock, one 28 ounce can no-salt-added crushed tomatoes, 2 tablespoons chili powder, 1 tablespoon cumin, 1/4 teaspoon kosher or sea salt and 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper and puree until smooth.
  3. Use immediately or divide into smaller containers and refrigerate for up to 5 days or freeze for up to 2 months.

This recipe makes 6 cups of enchilada sauce and you’ll only need 2 cups for this Layered Chicken Enchilada Casserole, so just freeze the extra for an even quicker weeknight meal in the future!

The 28-Day DASH Diet Weight-Loss Program includes recipes for Breakfast and Smoothies to Snacks, Sides and Desserts and everything in between. I can’t wait to try the Peach Avocado Smoothie, Cauliflower Leek Soup, Italian Style Turkey Meatloaf and Oatmeal Dark Chocolate Chip Peanut Butter Cookies.

So if you are looking for a plan to get you to a healthier and sustainable lifestyle, check out this comprehensive book. And it does’t hurt that there are a ton of super yummy recipes, as well.

More Main Course Casserole Recipes You’ll Love

This chicken and rice casserole is made entirely from scratch (no canned soup!)

A family tradition, this fish casserole is cheesy and comforting!

A classic combo: chicken and biscuits casserole, and left-over turkey also works.

This butternut squash lasagna is a great recipe to make for company.

Tell the kiddos it’s mac and cheese!! They’ll love this Macaroni and cheese with broccoli.

This healthy beef lasagna with spinach and basil is a fan favorite.

If you love enchiladas, then you have to try chicken chilaquiles

We like to call this butternut squash mac and cheese “grown up mac and cheese!”


This Layered Chicken Enchilada Casserole is adapted from the 28-Day Dash Diet. It is ready in just 40 minutes, a snap to make, super yummy and kid friendly. The simple homemade enchilada sauce takes this dish over the top. Gluten Free version, too! Serve with avocado, cilantro and Greek yogurt.

Scale 1x2x3x


1 tablespoon avocado or organic canola oil

1 yellow onion, peeled and diced

1 red bell pepper, seeded and diced

1/2 jalapeño pepper, seeded and diced

2 pounds ground chicken

4 cloves garlic, peeled and minced

2 Tablespoons taco seasoning, *see note for homemade

6 (8-inch) whole-wheat flour tortillas, cut to fit the pan as needed *see note for gluten-free version

2 cups Enchilada Sauce, homemade or store bought

3/4 cup shredded Mexican-style cheese


Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Coat a 9 x 11 inch baking dish with cooking spray.

Heat the oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add the onion, red bell pepper and jalapeño and sauté for 4 to 5 minutes until soft. Add the ground chicken and sauté for another 5 to 7 minutes, stirring frequently to break up the meat, until the chicken is cooked. Stir in the garlic and taco seasoning. Remove from the heat.

Place two tortillas in the bottom of the baking dish overlapping as needed. Layer with 1/3 of the meat, 1/3 of the sauce and 1/3 of the cheese. Create another two layers, ending with the shredded cheese.

Bake for 20 minutes, until the cheese in melted and bubbly. Serve hot.


For a gluten free version substitute corn tortillas for the whole-wheat. *To make salt-free homemade taco seasoning stir together 1 tablespoon chili powder, 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin, 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika, 1/2 teaspoon onion powder, 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder, 1/2 teaspoon Mexican oregano (optional), 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper and 1/8 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper.


  • Serving Size: 1/8 casserol
  • Calories: 420
  • Sugar: 6 g
  • Fat: 7 grams
  • Saturated Fat: 7 g
  • Carbohydrates: 29 g
  • Fiber: 6 g
  • Protein: 28 g

10 DASH Diet Recipes That Taste Damn Good

The Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) Diet was originally created by the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute (NHLBI) to assist those with high blood pressure. Since then, the diet has become a best-selling book and made the U.S. News and World Report Best Overall Diets list for five years in a row!

Marla Heller, R.D., author of the NY Times bestseller The DASH Diet Younger You, says, “The DASH diet is extra rich in nutrient-packed foods, including fruits and vegetables; non-fat or low-fat dairy; lean meats, fish and poultry; mostly whole grains; beans, nuts, seeds, and heart healthy fats.” And she claims the reason the diet has been so successful is because “these foods are key to the proven health benefits of DASH for lowering blood pressure, cholesterol, and reducing the risk of stroke, heart attack, heart failure, diabetes, and some types of cancer.”

The DASH Diet is a well-balanced plan that’s easy to follow—even if you’re not trying to lower your blood pressure. There’s no elimination of food groups or crazy pills to take; it’s all about eating the right amount of fresh, wholesome foods. You can even have alcohol in moderation (that’s a maximum of one drink per day if you choose to drink, FYI). The plan also encourages regular exercise and a healthy lifestyle, including no smoking. Easy breezy! Try it out with these 10 DASH-approved recipes.

The Everyday DASH Diet Cookbook: Over 150 Fresh and Delicious Recipes to Speed Weight Loss, Lower Blood Pressure, and Prevent Diabetes


– 25 Jun 2013

If you are on the DASH diet you may enjoy a little more variety. If you are trying to stick with a low-salt diet this book is also very helpful. There are quite a few recipes for no salt seasonings. Some of the recipes call for no-salt items that may be easier to order online than find in a local grocery store. I’ve never seen low-salt ketchup at my local stores.
You can tell these recipes were written by a professional who has written other cookbooks. The expertise shows and is refreshing in a world of quickly produced cookbooks. This one has heart. I like that there are instructions for difficult things like how to peel a mango or roast red bell peppers.
For this cookbook you will need a few things like a pump sprayer to minimize oil usage to keep the calories down to a manageable level. The granola recipe I tried was delicious all while helping me cut fat and sugar. The granola is then used in the Easy Pear Crisp recipe which was delicious with a little vanilla ice cream. I find I have to buy the pears a little under ripe and let them soften and ripen at home. Once cooked the sweet soft warm pears melt into the ice cream as the crisp oats give texture.
I’ve also been enjoying making the gingered green tea, however I use slices of candied ginger which are more convenient to use. The recipe calls for unpeeled fresh ginger and that is probably stronger. Still it is fun to eat the candied ginger when the tea is finished.
There is not a picture for each recipe but there are some beautiful pictures in the middle of the book to inspire you.
Some of the recipes I’m looking forward to trying include:
Curry-Rubbed Sirloin with Peanut Dipping Sauce
Fish Tacos with Lime-Cilantro Slaw
Creamed Spinach with Mushrooms
To be honest there are so many great sounding recipes it is difficult to make a decision on what to make next. I can see myself cooking from this cookbook years into the future. I will definitely make the granola and the pear crisp again soon.
The nutritional analysis also provides the amount of calories, protein, carbs, fat, fiber, cholesterol, sodium and potassium for each recipe.
The only thing I do have to say is however that the author may be a bit behind the times in regards to the use of coconut oil. She still thinks coconut oil is bad for you which isn’t the case anymore.
So with this cookbook you won’t run out of ideas for delicious things to cook anytime soon. You can also adapt recipes fairly easily as I did when making the Mexican Chicken Tortilla Soup. I will only admit that I used a little more stock than just water. I make my own stock with a teaspoon of chicken base and one cup water. It saves time not to have to make a homemade stock. I also used two cans of tomatoes instead of just one. I’m happy to say I now have some frozen soup for spontaneous dinners. One of the great things about this book is that there are lots of soup recipes for winter.
One of the best tips in this book is how to store basil. No wonders my basil always turns black in the refrigerator. I had no idea I was not storing it properly.
So I’m very happy with this cookbook and think you will find it creative and fun. Enjoy! 🙂
~The Rebecca Review

DASH Diet Cookbook: Delicious DASH Diet Recipes for Weight Loss and Healthy Living

Do you want to lower your blood pressure? Are you ready to drop pounds and build a body that is both healthy and strong? The DASH diet will help!

The DASH diet is based on medical research, and multiple government agencies recommend it as an ideal eating plan. Although the original goal of this eating plan was to lower blood pressure, the diet has helped many people shed unwanted pounds and develop healthy lifestyles.

The DASH diet doesn’t require you to starve or fight constant cravings. It focuses on controlling portion sizes, understanding food groups, and making sure you get the optimal levels of vitamins, minerals, fiber, and protein.

This book will make it easy for you to adopt the DASH diet. By listening to this book, you’ll learn:

  • The principles of the DASH diet
  • The foods to eat and the foods to avoid on the DASH diet
  • Tips to help you make a seamless transition to this healthy way of living
  • The 67 best DASH diet recipes for breakfast, vegetables, beans, poultry, meats, seafood, snacks, and dessert

This audiobook will help you regulate your blood pressure, drop pounds, and improve your heart health.

Buy DASH Diet Cookbook right now!

Recipes for dash diet

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