Good Health to Diet For: Blood Pressure and Nutrition

Following the Dash Diet

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

Use this chart to help you plan your menus or take it with you when you go to the store.

Food Group Daily Servings
(except as noted)
Serving Sizes Examples
and Notes
Significance of Each Food Group to DASH Eating Plan
Grains & grain products 7-8 1 slice bread
1 cup dry cereal*
1/2 cup cooked rice, pasta, cereal
whole wheat bread, English muffin, pita bread, bagel, cereals, grits, oatmeal, crackers, unsalted pretzels and popcorn major sources of energy and fiber
Vegetables 4-5 1 cup raw leafy vegetable
1/2 cup cooked vegetable
6 oz vegetable juice
tomatoes, potatoes, carrots, green peas, squash, broccoli, turnip greens, collards, kale, spinach, artichokes, green beans, lima beans, sweet potatoes rich sources of potassium, magnesium, and fiber
Fruits 4-5 6 oz fruit juice
1 medium fruit
1/4 cup dried fruit
1/2 cup fresh, frozen or canned fruit
apricots, bananas, dates, grapes, oranges, orange juice, grapefruit, grapefruit juice, mangoes, melons, peaches, pineapples, prunes, raisins, strawberries, tangerines important sources of potassium, magnesium, and fiber
Lowfat or fat free dairy foods 2 or less 3 oz cooked meats, poultry, or fish select only lean; trim away visible fats; broil, roast, or oil, instead of frying; remove skin from poultry rich sources of protein and magnesium
Nuts, seeds, and dry beans 4-5 per week 1/3 cup or 1 1/2 oz nuts
2 Tbsp or 1/2 oz seeds
1/2 cup cooked dry beans
almonds, filberts, mixed nuts, peanuts, walnuts, sunflower seeds, kidney beans, lentils and peas rich sources of energy, magnesium, potassium, protein, and fiber
Fats & oils** 2-3 1 tsp soft margarine
1 Tbsp lowfat mayonnaise
2 Tbsp light salad dressing
1 tsp vegetable oil
soft margarine, lowfat mayonnaise, light salad dressing, vegetable oil (such as olive, corn, canola or safflower) besides fats added to foods, remember to choose foods that contain less fat
Sweets 5 per week 1 Tbsp sugar
1 Tbsp jelly or jam
1/2 oz jelly beans
8 oz lemonade
maple syrup, sugar, jelly, jam, fruit-flavored gelatin, jelly beans, hard candy, fruit punch, sorbet, ices sweets should be low in fat
* serving sizes vary between 1/2-11/4 cups. Check the product's nutrition label.
** fat content changes serving counts for fats and oils: For example, 1 Tbsp of regular salad dressing equals 1 serving; 1 Tbsp of lowfat dressing equals 1/2 serving; 1 Tbsp of a fat free dressing equals 0 servings.

Reprinted from NHLBI, NIH Publication no. 98-4082; Sept 1998.

Getting Started

It's easy to adopt the DASH eating diet. Here are some ways to get started:

Change gradually.

  • If you now eat one or two vegetables a day, add a serving at lunch and another at dinner.
  • If you don't eat fruit now or have only juice at breakfast, add a serving to your meals or have it as a snack.
  • Use only half the butter, margarine, or salad dressing you do now.
  • Try lowfat or fat free condiments, such as fat free salad dressings.
  • Gradually increase dairy products to three servings per day. For example, drink milk with lunch or dinner, instead of soda, alcohol, or sugar-sweetened tea. Choose lowfat (1 percent) or fat free (skim) dairy products to reduce total fat intake.

Treat meat as one part of the whole meal, instead of the focus.

  • Buy less meat. If it's not there, you won't eat it.
  • Limit meat to 6 ounces a day (two servings) -- all that's needed. Three to four ounces is about the size of a deck of cards.
  • If you now eat large portions of meat, cut them back gradually -- a half or a third at each meal.
  • Include two or more vegetarian-style (meatless) meals each week.
  • Increase servings of vegetables, rice, pasta, and dry beans in meals. Try casseroles and pasta, and stir-fry dishes, having less meat and more vegetables, grains, and dry beans.

Use fruits or lowfat foods as desserts and snacks.

  • Fruits and lowfat foods offer great taste and variety. Use fruits canned in their own juice. Fresh fruits require little or no preparation. Dried fruits are easy to carry with you.
  • Try these snack ideas: unsalted pretzels or nuts mixed with raisins; graham crackers; lowfat and fat free yogurt and frozen yogurt; plain popcorn with no salt or butter added; and raw vegetables.

Sample Menus from the DASH Diet

Here are two sample menus from the DASH eating plan. The menus are based on 2,000 calories a day -- serving sizes should be increased or decreased for other caloric levels. Also, to ease the calculations, some of the serving sizes have been rounded off.


    Grains Vegetables Fruits Dairy foods Meat, poultry,
& fish
Nuts, seeds,
& dry beans
Fats and oils Sweets
apple juice 1 cup     11/2          
bran cereal; ready-to-eat 2/3 cup 1              
raisins 2 Tbsp     1/2          
fat free milk 1 cup       1        
whole wheat bread 1 slice 1              
soft margarine 11/2 tsp             11/2  
chicken sandwich:  
chicken breast, no skin 3 oz         1      
American cheese, reduced fat 2 slices (11/2 oz)       1        
loose leaf lettuce 2 large leaves   1/2            
tomato 2 slices (1/4" thick)   1/2            
light mayonnaise 1 Tbsp             1  
whole wheat bread 2 slices 2              
apple 1 medium     1          
vegetarian spaghetti sauce 3/4 cup   11/2            
spaghetti 1 cup 2              
Parmesan cheese 4 Tbsp       1        
green beans 1/2 cup   1            
spinach salad:  
spinach, raw 1 cup   1            
mushrooms, raw 1/4 cup   1/4 cup            
croutons 2 Tbsp 1/4 cup              
Italian dressing, lowfat 2 Tbsp             1  
dinner roll 1 medium 1              
frozen yogurt, lowfat 1/2 cup       1/2        
orange juice 1 cup     11/2          
banana 1 large     11/2          
TOTALS 71/4 43/4 6 31/2 1 0 31/2 0

Per Day:
Calories 1,995mg Magnesium 458 mg
Total Fat 50 gm Potassium 4,254 mg
Saturated Fat 15 gm Calcium 1,384 mg
Cholesterol 124 mg Sodium 3,127 mg


    Grains Vegetables Fruits Dairy foods Meat, poultry,
& fish
Nuts, seeds,
& dry beans
Fats and oils Sweets
orange juice 1 cup     11/2          
yogurt, fat free 1 cup       1        
fruit granola bars, lowfat 2 2              
fat free milk 1 cup       1        
banana 1 small     1/2          
turkey sandwich:  
turkey breast 3 oz         1      
loose leaf lettuce 1 leaf   1/4            
tomato 2 slices (1/4" thick)   1/2            
light mayonnaise 1 Tbsp             1  
whole wheat bread 2 slices 2              
carrots 7 sticks   1/4            
orange, fresh 1 medium     1          
spicy baked fish 3 oz         1      
brown rice 1 cup 2              
spinach, cooked 1 cup   2            
zucchini, cooked 1/2 cup   1            
dinner roll 1 medium 1              
soft margarine 2 tsp               2
fat free milk 1/2 cup       1/2        
melon balls 1 cup     2          
peanuts 1/4 cup (1 oz)           3/4    
apricots, dried 1/3 cup (11/2 oz)     11/2          
TOTALS 7 4 61/2 21/2 2 3/4 33/4 0

Per Day:
Calories 2,028 mg Magnesium 575 mg
Total Fat 51 gm Potassium 5,265 mg
Saturated Fat 9 gm Calcium 1,364 mg
Cholesterol 115 mg Sodium 2,411 mg