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What you choose to eat affects your chances of developing high blood pressure,
or hypertension (the medical term). Recent studies show that blood pressure
can be lowered by following the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH)
eating plan—and by eating less salt, also called sodium.
While each step alone lowers blood pressure, the combination of the eating plan and a reduced sodium intake gives the biggest benefit and may help prevent the development of high blood pressure.
This booklet, based on the DASH research findings, tells how to follow the DASH eating plan and reduce the amount of sodium you consume. It offers tips on how to start and stay on the eating plan, as well as a week of menus and some recipes. The menus and recipes are given for two levels of daily sodium consumption— 2,300 and 1,500 milligrams per day. Twenty-three hundred milligrams is the highest level considered acceptable by the National High Blood Pressure Education Program. It is also the highest amount recommended for healthy Americans by the 2005 "U.S. Dietary Guidelines for Americans." The 1,500 milligram level can lower blood pressure further and more recently is the amount recommended by the Institute of Medicine as an adequate intake level and one that most people should try to achieve.
The lower your salt intake is, the lower your blood pressure. Studies have found that the DASH menus containing 2,300 milligrams of sodium can lower blood pressure and that an even lower level of sodium, 1,500 milligrams, can further reduce blood pressure. All the menus are lower in sodium than what adults in the United States currently eat—about 4,200 milligrams per day in men and 3,300 milligrams per day in women.
Those with high blood pressure and prehypertension may benefit especially from following the DASH eating plan and reducing their sodium intake.
U.S. DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES
National Institutes of Health
National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute
NIH Publication No. 06-4082
Originally Printed 1998
Revised April 2006
What Is High Blood Pressure?
What Is the DASH Eating Plan?
- How Do I Make the DASH?
- How Can I Get Started on the DASH Eating Plan?
A Week With the DASH Eating Plan
Recipes for Heart Health
To Learn More