Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) Diet

The DASH diet shows how powerful food is as medicine!

If you have high blood pressure, by adopting this approach to eating, you may experience a lowering of your blood pressure within two weeks.

However, if following a set of rules doesn’t work for you long term, then let’s change your reasons for eating first.


    • The DASH diet is a healthy-eating plan designed to help treat or prevent high blood pressure (hypertension).
    • The DASH diet includes foods that are rich in potassium, calcium, and magnesium. These nutrients help control blood pressure. 
    • The diet limits foods that are high in sodium, saturated fat, and added sugars.
    • Studies have shown that the DASH diet can lower blood pressure in as little as two weeks.



The following is recommended by the DASH Diet based on a 2000 cal or 8400 kJ requirement. 

You would be reasonably active to require 2000 cal a day.

    • Grains: 6 to 8 servings a day. One serving is one slice bread, or 1/2 cup cooked cereal, rice or pasta.

    • Vegetables: 4 to 5 servings a day. One serving is 1 cup raw leafy green vegetable, 1/2 cup cut-up raw or cooked vegetables, or 1/2 cup vegetable juice.

    • Fruits: 4 to 5 servings a day. One serving is one medium fruit, 1/2 cup fresh, frozen or canned fruit, or 1/2 cup fruit juice.

    • Fat-free or low-fat dairy products: 2 to 3 servings a day. One serving is 1 cup milk or yoghurt, or 50g cheese. 

    • Lean meats, poultry and fish:  two servings or fewer a day. One serving is 90g cooked lean meat, skinless poultry or fish, or 2 eggs.

    • Nuts, seeds and legumes: 4 to 5 servings a week. One serving is 1/3 cup nuts, 2 tablespoons peanut butter, 2 tablespoons seeds, or 1/2 cup cooked legumes (dried beans or peas). 

    • Fats and oils: 2 to 3 servings a day. One serving is 1 teaspoon soft margarine, 1 teaspoon vegetable oil, 1 tablespoon mayonnaise or 2 tablespoons salad dressing.

    • Sweets and added sugars: 5 servings or fewer a week. One serving is 1 tablespoon sugar, or jam, 1/2 cup sorbet, 15g jelly beans

This is a lot of food, and you might be thinking too many carbs if you have pre-diabetes or diabetes.

Just a note here about diabetes. Our blood sugars do respond to what we eat, but they also respond to our stress levels, quality of sleep, activity levels and changes in our body fat levels.


Australian Dietary Guidelines

Let’s take a look at the DASH recommendations by referring to the  Australian Dietary Guidelines based on nutritional requirements for a woman aged mid 40s to mid 70s

There is variation for level of activity and personal health requirements. Women over 50 are also recommended to have an additional serve of dairy food to help prevent osteoporosis.

See example meal plan and example serve sizes of serves below:

    • Whole Grains: 3 to 4 serves depending on your level of activity and health requirements.
    • Vegetables: 5+ serves of coloured vegetables and one serve (½ cup) of potato
    • Fruit: 2
    • Dairy: 3 to 4 – Some low fat, but check with your doctor in regards to whether you can have full fat cheese and yoghurt.
    • Lean meats, poultry, fish, eggs, legumes, lentils, tofu, tempe, nuts and seeds: 2 serves
    • Fats & oils: 2 serves
    • 0 to 2 discretionary foods e.g. chips, chocolate and cake

Sample day meal plan

    • 1/3 cup muesli
    • 1/2 cup plain yoghurt
    • Table spoon of walnuts
    • 1/3 cup berries
    • 1/2 cup milk

MT – Milk coffee


    • Stir fry
    • 200g tofu
    • 1 1/2 cups chopped vegetables and herbs
    • 1 tablespoon oil
    • Optional 1/2 cup cooked brown rice or quinoa 


    • 1 cup salad leaves
    • 1/2 cup chopped tomato and mushrooms
    • 2 egg herb omelette with cheese

Snacks or additional food at meal times – one serve fruit, 1/2 cup yoghurt, 1 tablespoon nuts, 1 slice whole grain sourdough bread, or 20g dark chocolate


Australian Dietary Guidelines Serve Sizes

Whole grains

A serve equals any one of the following options:

    • 40g bread (this is equivalent to two thin slices or one thick slice or one small to medium sized bread roll)
    • ½ cup or 100g cooked rice or pasta or noodles
    • ½ cup cooked oats or mixed grain porridge (made of oats, rye, rice and other grains)
    • ½ cup cooked barley or buckwheat or quinoa
    • ¼ cup of muesli (30g)
    • A serve is one cup of leafy greens or ½ cup chopped raw or cooked vegetables
    • Aim to eat as many different colours as possible.

A serve of fruit is equal to any one of the following suggestions:

    • a medium-sized apple or pear or orange (150g)
    • 3 small pieces of fruit e.g. apricots or plums
    • 1 cup of stewed, preserved or canned fruit (with no added sugars)
    • 30g dried fruit e.g. 1 ½ tablespoons sultanas, 4 dried apricot

A serving of dairy or alternative foods provides 200 – 270 mg of calcium. This means that soy and rice products have been fortified with at least 100mg calcium per 100ml or 100g.

    • 1 cup (250ml) milk OR
    • 1 cup (250ml) calcium fortified soy or rice milk OR
    • 2 slices (40g) cheese OR
    • 120g ricotta cheese OR
    • 1 small tub (200g) yoghurt OR
    • 1 small tub (200g) calcium fortified soy yoghurt OR
    • 1 cup (200g) custard
Lean meats and alternatives

Aim for 2 serves per day from the following options:

    • 65g cooked red meat (90-100g raw) e.g. ½ cup lean mince or 2 small chops or 2 slices roast meat OR
    • 80g cooked chicken e.g. small chicken breast fillet (100g raw) OR
    • 100g cooked fish (115g raw) OR
    • 120g eggs e.g. 2 large OR
    • 170g cooked legumes (tofu, lentils, canned beans) as a meat, poultry or fish substitute OR
    • 210g cooked legumes if you eat a vegetarian diet
Nuts, Seeds and Oils

I have modified the Australian Dietary Guidelines to include nuts, seeds and oils together.

Aim to include at least two serves of unsalted raw or dry roasted nuts and seeds a week. If you eat a vegetarian diet, enjoy 1 -2 serves per day. A serve is 30g and equates to the following:

    • 20 almonds or hazelnuts or
    • 15 cashews or macadamias or pecans
    • 10 whole walnuts or 20 halves or
    • 10 brazil nuts or
    • a small handful of mixed nuts or
    • ¼ cup sunflower or pumpkin seeds or
    • 1/3 cup sesame seeds or
    • 1/6 cup flaxseeds


Oils that we use for dressings, dips and cooking are made from nuts and seeds. Oils have unique flavours and properties that make them more suitable for different purposes. 

Olive and macadamia oils are great for salads, peanut and sunflower oils are suited to stir-fry cooking and I particularly like rice bran oil for baking as a substitute for butter. 

You can have up to a tablespoon of added oil or margarine a day. Oil is a less processed alternative to margarine. You may need twice this amount if you are very active.

Discretionary foods

Depending on your health requirements and level of physical activity you may include 0 to 2 serves a day.

Example serves

    • 2 scoops (7g) ice-cream
    • 25g chocolate
    • 1 tablespoon of jam or honey
    • ½ snack size packet (30g) of salty crackers or chips
    • 200m wine

Not surprisingly the suggested serving sizes between the DASH diet and Australian Dietary Guidelines are similar.


If your answer to any of the following questions is “no”, then I suggest not.

  1. Can you stick to diet rules for longer than 1 or 2 years?
  2. Do you only eat because of physical hunger?
  3. Do you always eat an amount of food that just satisfies your physical hunger (not fullness)?

If you answered “no” to any of these questions, you are not alone. Only 10 to 20% of people are still sticking to their diet at one year.

I suggest taking nutritional guidance from the DASH research but learn how to tune into your natural hunger and satiety cues, and start transforming your reasons or drivers for eating.

And learn to make mindful eating choices that support your heart health, your weight and your total wellbeing long term.

Like my help to sustain healthier eating, then join me for a free 45-minute call.

We’ll discuss your eating habits and goals, and I’ll outline a plan. If you love the plan I will also share with you how to make it happen.


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