Hypertension and diet

Hypertension and diet

Hypertension Centre

Hypertension and diet

The Dash (short for the “dietary approach to stop hypertension”) clinical study proved that following a healthy eating plan, which involves redefining the serving size while not allowing yourself to feel like you are starving, could not only reduce the risk of developing high blood pressure but also lower an already elevated blood pressure.

The DASH eating plan

The DASH eating plan is based on 2,000 kilojoules per day. The number of daily servings in a food group may vary depending on your kilojoule needs. Serving sizes vary between cup and 1 cup.

The fat content changes the serving counts for fats and oils. For example, 1 tablespoon of salad dressing equals 1 serving; 1 tablespoon of a low fat dressing equals half a serving; 1 tablespoon of a fat free dressing equals 0 servings.

Food group 

Daily servings

 Serving sizes
Grains and grain products 7– 8 1 slice bread
1 cup ready-to-eat cereal
½ cup cooked rice, pasta, or cereal
Vegetables  4–5  1 cup raw leafy vegetable
½ cup cooked vegetable
¾ cup vegetable juice
Fruits   4–5 1 medium fruit
¼ cup dried fruit
½ cup fresh, frozen, or canned fruit
¾ cup fruit juice
Low-fat or fat-free dairy foods 2–3 1 cup milk
1 cup yogurt
1½ heaped tablespoons or 43g cheese
Lean meats, poultry, and fish 2 or less 85g cooked lean meats, skinless poultry or fish
Nuts, seeds, and dry beans  4–5 per week Third cup or 1½ tablespoons nuts
1 tablespoon seeds
½ cup cooked dry beans
Fats and oils** 2–3 1 teaspoon soft margarine
1 tablespoon low-fat mayonnaise
2 tablespoons light salad dressing
1 teaspoon vegetable oil
Sweets 5 per week 1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon jam
1 tablespoon jelly beans
1 cup lemonade


Getting started with DASH

Change gradually.

  • If you now eat one or two vegetables per day, add a serving at lunch and another at dinner.
  • If you don’t eat fruit now or have only juice at breakfast, add a serving to your meals or have it as a snack.
  • Use only half the butter, margarine or salad dressing you do now.
  • Try low fat or fat free condiments, such as fat free salad dressings.
  • Gradually increase dairy products to three servings per day. For example, drink milk with lunch or dinner, instead of soda, alcohol or sugar-sweetened tea. Choose low-fat or fat-free (skim) dairy products to reduce total fat intake.

Treat meat as one part of the whole meal, instead of the focus

  • Buy less meat. If it’s not there, you won’t eat it.
  • Limit meat to 170g or ¾ cup a day (two servings). This is about the size of a deck of cards.
  • If you now eat large portions of meat, cut back gradually by a half or a third at each meal.
  • Include two or more vegetarian (meatless) meals each week.
  • Increase servings of vegetables, rice, pasta and dry beans in meals. Try casseroles and pasta or stir-fry dishes with less meat and more vegetables, grains and dry bean.

Use fruits or low-fat foods as desserts and snacks

  • Fruits and low-fat foods offer great taste and variety. Use fruits canned in their own juice. Fresh fruits require little or no preparation. Dried fruits are easy to carry with you.
  • Try these snack ideas: unsalted pretzels or nuts mixed with raisins; crackers; low-fat and fat-free yogurt and frozen yogurt; plain popcorn with no salt or butter added; and raw vegetables.

Our Employee Wellbeing Programme (EWP) is available 24 hours a day if you want to discuss hypertension and diet. Call us on 0861872862 or email us at
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