Eating Heart-Healthy Food: Using the DASH PlanCarrots, tomato, cherries, apple, pear, broccoli, lettuce, cucumber.

Eating for your heart doesn’t have to be hard or boring. You just need to know how to make healthier choices. The DASH eating plan has been developed to help you do just that. DASH stands for Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension. It is a plan that has been proven to be healthier for your heart and to lower your risk for high blood pressure. It can also help lower your risk for cancer, heart disease, osteoporosis, and diabetes.

Choosing from Each Food Group

Choose foods from each of the food groups below each day. Try to get the recommended number of servings for each food group. The serving numbers are based on a diet of 2,000 calories a day. Talk to your doctor if you’re unsure about your calorie needs.


Servings: 7-8 a day

A serving is:

  • 1 slice bread

  • 1 ounce dry cereal

  • half a cup cooked rice or pasta

Best choices: Whole grains and any grains high in fiber.


Servings: 4-5 a day

A serving is:

  • 1 cup raw leafy vegetable

  • Half a cup cooked vegetable

  • Three-quarter cup vegetable juice

Best choices: Fresh or frozen vegetable prepared without too much added salt or fat.


Servings: 4-5 a day

A serving is:

  • Three-quarter cup fruit juice

  • 1 medium fruit

  • One-quarter cup dried fruit

  • One-half cup fresh, frozen, or canned fruit

Best choices: A variety of fresh fruits of different colors. Whole fruits are a much better choice than fruit juices.

Low-fat or Fat Free Dairy

Servings: 2-3 a day

A serving is:

  • 8 ounces milk

  • 1 cup yogurt

  • One and a half ounces cheese

Best choices: Skim or 1% milk, low-fat or fat free yogurt or buttermilk, and low-fat cheeses.


Meat, Poultry, Fish

Servings: 2 or fewer a day

A serving is:

  • 3 ounces cooked meat, poultry, or fish

Best choices: Lean meats and fish. Trim away visible fat. Broil, roast, or boil instead of frying. Remove skin from poultry before eating.

Nuts, Seeds, Beans

Servings: 4-5 a week

A serving is:

  • One third cup nuts (or one and a half ounces)

  • 2 tablespoons sunflower seeds

  • Half a cup cooked beans

Best choices: “Dry roasted” nuts with no salt added, lentils, kidney beans, garbanzo beans, and whole pinto beans.

Fats and Oils

Servings: 2 a day

A serving is:

  • 1 teaspoon vegetable oil

  • 1 teaspoon soft margarine

  • 1 tablespoon low-fat mayonnaise

  • 1 teaspoon regular mayonnaise

  • 2 tablespoons light salad dressing

  • 1 tablespoon regular salad dressing

Best choices: Monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats such as olive, canola, or safflower oil.


Servings: 5 a week or fewer

A serving is:

  • 1 tablespoon sugar, maple syrup, or honey

  • 1 tablespoon jam or jelly

  • 1 half-ounce jelly beans (about 15)

  • 8 ounces lemonade

Best choices: Dried fruit can be a satisfying sweet. Choose low-fat sweets when possible. And watch your serving sizes!


For more on the DASH eating plan, visit:

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