Lower Keys Medical Center: Island Health   /   DASH for Your Health

DASH for Your Health

DASH is an eating plan meant to lower high blood pressure, improve cholesterol levels and provide a template for life-long, heart-healthy food choices.

DASH is an acronym for Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension — an eating plan based on a series of four studies funded by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI). Researchers found that the DASH eating plan can lower blood pressure and reduce low-density lipoprotein (LDL) or “bad” cholesterol, which is responsible for clogging arteries.

Do the DASH

DASH promotes a diet rich in vegetables, fruits, whole grains, fat-free and low-fat dairy products, fish, poultry, beans, nuts and vegetable oils, while avoiding fatty meats, full-fat dairy products and tropical oils. In addition, limiting the amount of sodium, sugar, and saturated and trans fats in your diet are important components of DASH.

A typical 2,000-calorie culinary day in the life of a DASH-er would include:

  • Four to five servings of vegetables
  • Four to five servings of fruit
  • Seven to eight servings of grains
  • Two or fewer servings of meat, poultry or fish
  • Two to three servings of low-fat or fat-free dairy products
  • Two to three servings of fats and oils

The DASH eating plan also recommends four to five weekly servings of nuts, seeds, dry beans or peas, and no more than five sweet treats every week.

How to DASH

DASH requires lowering your daily sodium intake to 2,300 milligrams of sodium a day or less. People with high blood pressure should limit this amount to 1,500 milligrams daily. Two ways to lower sodium intake are dining out less frequently and avoiding cured, smoked and salted meats. Looking for reduced or sodium-free products when grocery shopping is another good habit to follow.

The DASH diet recommends eating red meat in moderation and allowing fish, chicken, nuts, seeds and legumes to serve as your main protein sources.

Even if you don’t have high blood pressure, combining the DASH eating plan with regular physical activity can help you maintain overall fitness and a healthy weight, the NHLBI advises. Talk with your doctor before changing your diet.

Turkey Meatloaf

Just because you’re consuming less sodium and red meat doesn’t mean you have to give up on home-style food that sticks to your ribs. Try this healthier meatloaf recipe.


1 pound lean ground turkey
½ cup dry regular oats
1 large whole egg
1 tablespoon dehydrated onion flakes
¼ cup ketchup


  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
  2. In a large bowl, combine all ingredients and mix well.
  3. Place mixture in a loaf pan and bake in oven for 25 minutes or until the internal temperature of the meatloaf is 165°F.
  4. Use a knife to cut the loaf into five slices.
  5. Serve and enjoy.

Nutritional Information

Makes 5 servings
Serving size: 1 slice

Calories: 191
Total fat: 7g
Saturated fat: 2g
Cholesterol: 103mg
Sodium: 205mg
Protein: 23g
Carbohydrates: 9g
Calcium: 24mg
Magnesium: 33mg
Potassium: 268mg
Fiber: 1g

Recipe courtesy of the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute

Your primary care provider can help you find, and stick with, a heart-healthy diet that works with your lifestyle. Schedule an appointment with a provider online at KeysMedicalGroup.com.