The DASH Diet – Everything You Need To Know

At any one time there is a huge number of people in the country trying to lose weight. They will be doing this through many different means and there are an abundance of diets looking to help them in their weight loss journey.

If you’re overweight and carrying too much fat then you’re also putting yourself at risk of many other different diseases. We are often caught up on our physical appearance, but much more damage can come from being overweight, than not being happy with your appearance.

Among the multitude or problems that being overweight can cause is high blood pressure, which in itself can also cause a number of issues. Tackling these issues should be a priority and it’s essential to start changing you diet and lifestyle.

If you have issues with high blood pressure, then the DASH diet could be one option to take. The diet is actually based around reducing high blood pressure in people and its main aim is to tackle this problem.

Entering into a DASH diet is not only a way to lower blood pressure and it can also help you lose weight. In this article we will detail how it works and how best to carry out the diet.

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What is a DASH diet?

DASH stands for Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension. It is a diet that is often recommended to people who need to treat or prevent high blood pressure (hypertension) and lower their risk of heart disease.

The DASH diet was put together when researchers discovered that high-blood pressure was much less common in people that lived on plant-based diets when compared to those that eat lots of meat.

This led to a diet being created where people ate lots of nutrients that looked to protect against getting a high blood pressure. Like many other diets the main foods to eat whilst on the DASH diet are fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.

However, the diet is not just for vegetarians and vegans because it allows the consumption of lean protein sources like chicken and fish, as well as beans.

The diet is low in red meat, salt, added sugars, and fat, which makes it similar to many other diets too.

The diets ability to reduce blood pressure is mostly linked to the low amount of salt in the diet and people with high blood pressure often have too much sodium in their diet. The DASH diet recommends that people should be eating no more than 2,300 mg of sodium per day, which equates to 1 teaspoon. This is also in line with most national guidelines.

As well as helping lower blood pressure the diet also has another range of benefits. Many of these benefits are attributed to the diets high levels of fruit and vegetable.

These benefits include:

  • Lower risk of diabetes – The DASH diet has been linked to a lower risk of getting type 2 diabetes, and some studies have shown that it can improve insulin resistance.
  • Decreased risk of heart disease – In women the DASH diet has been shown to lower the risk of heart disease and lower the risk of having a stroke.
  • Decreased risk of cancer – A recent study showed that the risk of getting some cancers could be reduced. This included colorectal and breast cancer.
  • Lower risk of metabolic syndrome – Studies have shown that the DASH diet reduces the risk of developing metabolic syndrome.

Why the DASH diet is so effective for weight loss?

The DASH diet is similar to many other diets, particularly low-fat diets, and this is essentially why it is also effective for weight loss.

By following the DASH diet, you will be bringing down your daily caloric intake to an amount lower than your body’s caloric maintenance requirement. In doing this your body will eventually start to tap into its fat reserves as a primary source of energy, which will lead to gradual weight loss over a period of 4-12 weeks.

How to begin a DASH diet?

The DASH diet is not structured by a list of certain foods that you need to eat but instead lists a dietary pattern that is made up of servings of different food groups.

The number of these servings depends on your weight loss goals and it will depend on how many calories you need to consume.

We have listed the number of servings you should be aiming for, based on a 2,000-calorie diet.

Whole Grains: 6–8 Servings per day

An example of whole grains includes whole wheat or whole grain breads, whole grain breakfast cereals, brown rice, oatmeal, bulgur, and quinoa.

Example of a serving includes:

  • 1 slice of whole grain bread
  • 1/2 cup of cooked rice, pasta or cereal

Vegetables: 4–5 Servings per day

All vegetables are allowed on the DASH diet. This includes kale, peppers, broccoli, peas and cabbage, to name a few.

Example of a serving includes:

  • 1 cup of raw, leafy vegetables
  • 1/2 cup of cut-up raw or cooked vegetables

Fruits: 4–5 Servings per day

The DASH diet includes lots of fruit. An example of fruits you can eat include pears, peaches, apples, berries and tropical fruits.

Example of a serving includes:

  • 1 medium piece of fruit
  • 1/2 cup of fresh, frozen or canned fruit
  • 1/2 cup of fruit juice

Dairy Products: 2–3 Servings per day

All dairy products you consume on the DASH diet should be low in fat. Examples of these include skimmed milk and low-fat cheese and yogurt.

Example of a serving includes:

  • 1 cup of low-fat milk or yogurt
  • 1.5 ounces of low-fat cheese

Lean Chicken, Meat and Fish: 6 or fewer servings per day

You should be opting for lean cuts of meat and try to eat a serving of red meat only occasionally – so no more than once or twice a week.

Example of a serving includes:

  • 1 ounce of cooked meat, chicken or fish
  • 1 egg

Nuts, Seeds and Legumes: 4–5 servings per week

Nuts, seeds, and legumes are allowed with the diet. These include foods like almonds, peanuts, hazelnuts, walnuts, sunflower seeds, flax seeds, lentils, and kidney beans.

Example of a serving includes:

  • 1/3 cup or 1.5 ounces of nuts
  • 2 tablespoons or a half ounce of seeds
  • 1/2 cup of cooked legumes

Fats and Oils: 2–3 servings per day

The DASH diet recommends that you primarily choose vegetable oils over other oils. They also recommend you choose low-fat mayonnaise and light salad dressings.

Example of a serving includes:

  • 1 teaspoon of soft margarine
  • 1 teaspoon of vegetable oil
  • 2 tablespoons of salad dressing

Candy and Added Sugars: 5 or fewer servings per week

On the DASH diet added sugars are kept to a minimum. The DASH diet also requires you to limit unrefined sugars and alternative sugar sources, like agave nectar.

Example of a serving include:

  • 1 tablespoon of sugar
  • 1 tablespoon of jam

How long should I be on a DASH diet for?

The DASH diet offers a good way to lose weight and if followed you should be able to hit your weight loss goals. Once you’ve hit these goals you could ‘return’ to a looser approach to food but as long as you are still keeping a healthy and balanced diet.

Supplements to take with the DASH diet

Supplements can be helpful when you are dieting and some supplements can either speed up the process or fill in any nutritional deficiencies.

Protein supplements are an effective way to help with weight loss and are particularly good for people who are partnering their healthy eating with a good fitness schedule.

DASH diet side effects

Some of the diets biggest benefits come from people reducing their intake of salt. The main findings of the diet are the greatest reductions in blood pressure were seen in those with the lowest intake of salt. However, people with normal blood pressure, the impact of reducing salt intake are much more small.

Salt has also become one of the biggest enemies of the modern food world, and along with sugar and fat, it is labelled as a very bad food. However, not getting enough in your diet can also cause health problems like an increased risk of heart disease.


Hopefully we’ve given you some real food for thought and provided you with some good pointers for starting out on your DASH diet. The diet is a good way to lower and control your blood pressure, whilst also helping with weight loss.

The diet promotes a balanced range of foods and is also relatively easy to follow. The diet is similar to other low-fat diets but it still provides a good framework to lose weigh with – as long as you’ve got some willpower and self-discipline you will no doubt be able to see some positive results!

If you do decide to choose the DASH diet then let us know how you get on and good luck!