Healthy Diet

What is the DASH Diet?

The DASH diet is a heart healthy way of eating that has been proven to help lower your blood pressure and decrease risks of heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, and kidney disease. This heart healthy diet plan encourages eating whole grains, vegetables, fruits, low-fat dairy, beans, poultry, and fish. These foods are good sources of fiber, potassium, protein, magnesium, and calcium. Following the DASH Diet with less than 1,500 mg of salt per day may help lower your blood pressure even more, especially if it is high.

Health Benefits of a DASH Diet

Some ways the DASH diet can help you are:

  • Lowering blood pressure
  • Improved cholesterol levels
  • Lowers your chance of getting kidney disease
  • It lowers your chance of getting serious diseases like diabetes, heart failure, heart disease, and stroke
  • May improve insulin resistance and sensitivity
  • May help with weight loss
  • It is good for your stomach/gut and digestion

Why is the DASH diet important for African Americans/Blacks?

The DASH diet is helpful for people with high blood pressure. The DASH diet lowers the risk of heart disease among Black adults with more hypertension than other racial or ethnic groups. Anyone with hypertension should focus on eating more potassium-rich foods like fruits and veggies, and less sodium (salt).

How can My Plate help me manage my diet?

MyPlate shows you a picture of what a healthy plate of food looks like. It helps you know how much of each food group to eat. Changing what you eat to be healthier can be difficult. MyPlate is a good place to start learning. One recommendation is to fill half your plate with fruits and veggies. MyPlate also encourages you to eat whole grains and limit fats. MyPlate is a useful tool to help you make better food choices.

How does Sodium (Salt) affect the body?

Your body needs some salt to make sure your nerves and muscles are working correctly. However, too much salt can be bad for you. Eating more than 2,300 mg a day can increase the risk of high blood pressure, kidney problems, heart disease, and strokes. Food packages have labels that tell you how much salt (sodium) is in your foods. It is important to review the tables so that you can eat the correct amount of salt.

Check the Package for Nutrient Claims

You can look at packages to see quickly if things have less salt. Here are some common claims and what they mean:

When it says… What it means


Less than 5 mg of sodium per serving.

Very Low Sodium

35 mg of sodium or less per serving.

Low Sodium

140 mg of sodium or less per serving.

Reduced Sodium

At least 25% less sodium than the regular product.

Light in Sodium or Lightly Salted

At least 50% less sodium than the regular product.

No-Salt-Added or Unsalted

No salt is added during processing – but these products may not be salt/sodium-free unless stated.

Salt is used to make food taste good. As you transition to eating less salt, you can use other spices as an alternative Using spices instead of salt keeps food flavorful without the salt. Here are some common spices and what foods they are used in:

Tips for Using Herbs and Spices

Herbs and Spices Flavor Profile Use In


Sweet, pungent, slightly spicy

Soups and salads, vegetables, fish, and meats


Sweet, woody, slightly citrusy

Soups, vegetables, breads, and snacks

Chili Powder

Warm, earthy, mild to moderate spiciness, slightly smoky

Soups, salads, vegetables, and fish


Strong, pungent, sweet, bitter

Soups, salads, and vegetables

Dill Weed & Dill Seed

Fresh, citrus-like, grassy undertone

Fish, soups, salads, and vegetables


Spicy, peppery, warm/hot

Soups, salads, vegetables, and meats


Sweet, herby, piney, earthy

Soups, salads, vegetables, beef, fish, and chicken


Nutty, earthy, slightly sweet

Vegetables, meats, and snacks


Earthy/musty, green, hay and minty notes

Soups, salads, vegetables, meats, and snacks


Mild, sweet, vegetable like, some smoked for more flavor

Soups, sauces, vegetables, fish, and meats


Clean and peppery, slightly earthy

Salads, vegetables, fish, and meats


Piney, resinous, astringent, peppery, lemony, and woodsy

Salads, vegetables, fish, and meats


Woodsy hints of pine, mint, and even eucalyptus

Soups, salads, vegetables, meats, and chicken


Earthy, minty, flowery, light lemon flavor

Salads, vegetables, fish, and chicken

Why is Potassium important?

Eating foods with potassium helps lower high blood pressure. Adults should aim for at least 4,700 mg of potassium each day according to The Food and Drug Administration. Good sources are veggies, fruits, whole grains, dried beans and peas, nuts, fish, and dairy.

Selected Food Sources of Potassium

Food Amount/serving (mg)

Apricots, dried, ½ cup


Lentils, cooked, 1 cup


Potato, baked, 1 med


Banana, 1 med


Chicken breast, 3 oz


Soymilk, 1 cup


Broccoli, cooked, ½ cup


Cantaloupe, cubed, ½ cup


Milk, 1%, 1 cup


Spinach, raw, 2 cups


Apple with skin, 1 med


Rice, brown, cooked, 1 cup


It’s important to talk to your doctor about high blood pressure. Here are some questions you can ask:

  • Do you think I should talk to a dietitian? A dietitian can help me learn what foods are good and bad for my blood pressure.
  • Are there certain foods I should eat more or less of?
  • What kind of diet do you think would help my blood pressure?

Heathly Diet Quiz

All of the following are changes that you can make in your diet to lower your high blood pressure, except:
The DASH diet has been shown to help lower blood pressure and reduce the risk of disease such as heart attack and stroke.
We eat more salt or sodium than needed.


U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services, National Institutes of Health, National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. (2003, May). Your guide to lowering blood pressure.

U.S. Food & Drug Administration. (2022, February, 25). Sodium in your diet: Use the nutrition facts label and reduce your intake.

Source: In Brief: Your Guide to Lowering Your Blood Pressure with DASH. Content last reviewed August 2018. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, Rockville, MD.

Effects of Diet on 10-Year Atherosclerotic Cardiovascular Disease Risk (from the DASH Trial) – ScienceDirect

Effects of Sodium Reduction and the DASH Diet in Relation to Baseline Blood Pressure

Combination Low-Salt and Heart-Healthy “Dash” Diet as Effective as Drugs for Some Adults With High Blood Pressure – 11/22/2017