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Eat Your Way to Lower Blood Pressure

Take charge with the DASH diet

A Veteran and his wife making a healthy meal at home About one in three Veterans are believed to have high blood pressure. Are you one of them?

One common reason for high blood pressure, or hypertension, is diet. Eating foods high in salt or fat can lead to big health problems. High blood pressure can cause heart disease, kidney disease, and stroke. But some diets can help.

What is the DASH diet?

DASH stands for “Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension.” This eating plan can help lower blood pressure. Following the DASH diet doesn’t require special foods. Instead, this diet focuses on daily and weekly nutrition goals. This eating plan recommends:

  • Fish and poultry

  • Unsalted nuts

  • Vegetables

  • Fruits and whole grains

  • Fat-free or low-fat dairy

  • Beans and nuts

  • Limiting foods high in saturated fat like fatty meats, full-fat dairy products, and coconut or palm oil

  • Reducing sugar-sweetened drinks and sweets

  • Minimizing processed foods

Benefits of DASH diets

When following the DASH diet, positive health changes are sometimes seen in a few weeks. The DASH diet helps control high blood pressure with heart-healthy food choices. It also reduces your risk for other problems including cancer, heart disease, osteoporosis, and diabetes.

DASH meals with flavor

Part of the DASH diet is reducing the amount of salt and fat in your diet. When you prepare meals, check food labels for the sodium amount. Most dietary sodium comes from eating packaged foods, not from the salt that you add at the dinner table. Look at the label. You should be consuming less than 2,300mg of sodium a day. Foods labeled as “low sodium” have less than 140mg sodium per serving. Try these tips to add more flavor:

  • Read the nutrition fact label

  • Buy fresh seafood and poultry rather than processed

  • Enjoy fresh or frozen vegetables and try ones you haven't used before

  • Un-salt your snacks by choosing no-salt-added nuts and seeds

  • Marinate your poultry, fish, and other meats before cooking

These ideas can help you make healthy eating choices. You should talk to a doctor before making big changes to your diet. Your doctor can help you find out your blood pressure goal. If you check your blood pressure at home, record your numbers in your My HealtheVet profile’s Vitals section to show your progress.


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Before reading this article, had you previously heard of the DASH diet?


Read More

Food and Hypertension

Healthy Eating Habits to Start Now

DASH Eating Plan (Nutrition and Food Services) (PDF)

Eating Well with High Blood Pressure (Veterans Health Library) (Video)


Updated July 12, 2021