Hypertension and the DASH diet

Ideally, we should all have a blood pressure below 120mmHg over 80mmHg (120/80). The top number is the systolic blood pressure (the highest pressure when your heart beats and pushes blood round your body, the force your heart exerts on the wall of your arteries each time it beats). The bottom number is your diastolic blood pressure (the lowest pressure when your heart relaxes between beats).   

Definition of hypertension falls into 3 stages.

Stage 1. Hypertension clinic blood pressure is 140/90mmHg or higher and ambulatory blood pressure monitoring (ABPM) daytime average or home blood pressure monitoring (HBPM) average blood pressure is 135/85mmHg or higher.

Stage 2. Hypertension clinic blood pressure is 160/100mmHg or higher and  ABPM day time average or HBPM average blood pressure is 150/95mmHg or higher.

Stage 3. Severe hypertension clinic systolic blood pressure is 180mmHg or higher or clinic diastolic blood pressure is 110mmHg or higher

It is important to ascertaining people diets and exercise patterns when they present as hypertensive as a healthy diet and regular excise can reduce blood pressure.

NICE guidelines suggest:

  • offering appropriate guidance and written or audio-visual materials to promote healthy lifestyle changes.
  • Encourage a reduction of alcohol if a person drinks as reducing alcohol can reduce blood pressure and has wider health benefits.
  • Discourage excessive consumption of coffee and other caffeine rich products
  • Encourage people to reduce their dietary sodium as this can reduce blood pressure
  • Do not advice calcium, magnesium or potassium supplements as a method for reducing blood pressure
  • Offer advice on stopping smoking if a person smoke.


Research has shown the DASH (dietary approaches to stop hypertension) diet has help successfully manage or prevent hypertension. The DASH diet emphases portion size, eating a variety of foods and getting the right amount of nutrients. It is a lifelong approach to healthy eating.

The diet encourages a person to reduce sodium and by following the DASH diet a person may be able to reduce blood pressure by a few points in just two weeks and over time systolic blood pressure could drop 8 to 14 points.

The DASH diet emphasis the intake of vegetables and fruit and low fat dairy foods with a moderate amount of whole grains, fish, poultry and nuts.  The Standard DASH diet allows up to 2,300mg of sodium a day.  The Lower Sodium DASH diet allows up to 1,500mg of sodium a day and both diets aim to reduce the amount of sodium in a person’s normal daily diet.

DASH diet

  • 6-8 serving a day of grains
  • 4-5 servings a day vegetable
  • 4-5 servings a day fruit
  • 2-3 servings a day diary
  • 6 servings a day or fewer for lean meat, poultry and fish
  • 4-5 servings a week for legumes
  • 2-3 servings a day for fats and oils
  • 5 servings or less a week for sweets

Studies have found the Dash diet has value in reducing blood pressure which can improve important cardiovascular bio markers and a reduction in arterial stuffiness which could result in lower risk for cardiovascular events.

The Dash diet is associated with significantly lower systolic blood pressure and helping manage/prevent hypertension and cardiovascular events.


Further resource for the DASH diet: https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/nutrition-and-healthy-eating/in-depth/dash-diet/art-20048456

Further resource for hypertension: https://www.nice.org.uk/guidance/cg127

About Lisa McKeown 28 Articles
I'm a stage & screen writer who has become a fitness enthusiast on a lifestyle change. I fell in love with nutrition during this journey which has lead me to study Human Nutrition at university from September 2016. I am also a trained actress.

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