Interested in following the DASH eating plan but not sure how? Here are sample menus to get you started.

By Mayo Clinic Staff

Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) is an eating plan to lower or control high blood pressure. The DASH diet emphasizes foods that are lower in sodium as well as foods that are rich in potassium, magnesium and calcium — nutrients that help lower blood pressure.

The DASH diet features menus with plenty of vegetables, fruits and low-fat dairy products, as well as whole grains, fish, poultry and nuts. It offers limited portions of red meats, sweets and sugary beverages.

Maybe you want to try the DASH diet but aren't quite sure how to incorporate DASH into your own daily menus. To help you get started, here are three days of menus that conform to the DASH plan. Use these menus as a basis for your own healthy meal planning.

Remember that on some days, you may eat a few more or a few less servings than recommended for a particular food group. That's generally OK, as long as the average of several days or a week is close to the recommendations. The exception is sodium. Try to stay within the daily limit for sodium as much as possible. Also note that the values for nutritional information may vary according to specific brands of ingredients you use or changes you make in meal preparation.

Breakfast

  • 1 store-bought (commercial) whole-wheat bagel with 2 tablespoons peanut butter (no salt added)
  • 1 medium orange
  • 1 cup fat-free milk
  • Decaffeinated coffee

Lunch

Spinach salad made with:

  • 4 cups of fresh spinach leaves
  • 1 sliced pear
  • 1/2 cup canned mandarin orange sections
  • 1/3 cup slivered almonds
  • 2 tablespoons red wine vinaigrette

12 reduced-sodium wheat crackers

1 cup fat-free milk

Dinner

  • Herb-crusted baked cod, 3 ounces cooked (about 4 ounces raw)
  • 1/2 cup brown rice pilaf with vegetables
  • 1/2 cup fresh green beans, steamed
  • 1 small sourdough roll
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 1 cup fresh berries with chopped mint
  • Herbal iced tea

Snack (anytime)

  • 1 cup fat-free, low-calorie yogurt
  • 4 vanilla wafers
Day 1 nutritional analysis  
Calories: 2,015 Cholesterol: 70 mg
Total fat: 70 g Sodium: 1,607 mg
Saturated fat: 10 g Total carbohydrate: 267 g
Trans fat: 0 g Dietary fiber: 39 g
Monounsaturated fat: 25 g Sugars: 109 g
Potassium: 3,274 mg Protein: 90 g
Calcium: 1,298 mg Magnesium: 394 mg
Day 1 DASH servings  
Grains and grain products: 7
Vegetables: 5
Fruits: 4
Dairy foods (low-fat or fat-free): 3
Meats, poultry and fish: 3
Nuts, seeds and dry beans: 2
Fats and oils: 3
Sweets: 1

Breakfast

  • 1 cup fresh mixed fruits, such as melons, banana, apple and berries, topped with 1 cup fat-free, low-calorie vanilla-flavored yogurt and 1/3 cup walnuts
  • 1 bran muffin
  • 1 teaspoon trans-free margarine
  • 1 cup fat-free milk
  • Herbal tea

Lunch

Curried chicken wrap made with:

  • 1 medium whole-wheat tortilla
  • 2/3 cup cooked, chopped chicken, about 3 ounces
  • 1/2 cup chopped apple
  • 2 tablespoons light mayonnaise*
  • 1/2 teaspoon curry powder

1/2 cup, or about 8, raw baby carrots

1 cup fat-free milk

Dinner

  • 1 cup cooked whole-wheat spaghetti with 1 cup marinara sauce, no added salt
  • 2 cups mixed salad greens
  • 1 tablespoon low-fat Caesar dressing
  • 1 whole-wheat roll
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 1 nectarine
  • Sparkling water

Snack (anytime)

Trail mix made with:

  • 1/4 cup raisins
  • 1 ounce, or about 22, unsalted mini twist pretzels
  • 2 tablespoons sunflower seeds

*Fat-free spreads still have calories, so count as 1 fat serving.

Day 2 nutritional analysis  
Calories: 2,193 Cholesterol: 99 mg
Total fat: 70 g Sodium: 1,854 mg
Saturated fat: 11 g Total carbohydrate: 324 g
Trans fat: 0 g Dietary fiber: 38 mg
Monounsaturated fat: 16 g Sugars: 135 g
Potassium: 4,219 mg Protein: 95 g
Calcium: 1,370 mg Magnesium: 495 mg
Day 2 DASH servings  
Grains and grain products: 7
Vegetables: 5
Fruits: 5
Dairy foods (low-fat or fat-free): 3
Meats, poultry and fish: 3
Nuts, seeds and dry beans: 2
Fats and oils: 3
Sweets: 0

Breakfast

  • 1 cup old-fashioned cooked oatmeal* topped with 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 slice whole-wheat toast
  • 1 teaspoon trans-free margarine
  • 1 banana
  • 1 cup fat-free milk

Lunch

Tuna salad made with:

  • 1/2 cup drained, unsalted water-packed tuna, 3 ounces
  • 2 tablespoons fat-free mayonnaise
  • 15 grapes
  • 1/4 cup diced celery
  • Served on top of 2 cups romaine lettuce

8 Melba toast crackers

1 cup fat-free milk

Dinner

Beef and vegetable kebab, made with:

  • 3 ounces of beef
  • 1 cup of peppers, onions, mushrooms and cherry tomatoes

1 cup cooked wild rice

1/3 cup pecans

1 cup pineapple chunks

Cran-raspberry spritzer made with:

  • 4 ounces cran-raspberry juice
  • 4 to 8 ounces sparkling water

Snack (anytime)

  • 1 cup light yogurt
  • 1 medium peach

*To further reduce sodium, don't add salt when cooking the oatmeal.

Day 3 nutritional analysis  
Calories: 1,868 Cholesterol: 114 mg
Total fat: 45 g Sodium: 1,332 mg
Saturated fat: 0 g Total carbohydrate: 277 g
Trans fat: 7 g Dietary fiber: 29 g
Monounsaturated fat: 19 g Sugars: 125 g
Potassium: 4,170 mg Protein: 103 g
Calcium: 1,083 mg Magnesium: 423 mg
Day 3 DASH servings  
Grains and grain products: 6
Vegetables: 5
Fruits: 5
Dairy foods (low-fat or fat-free): 3
Meats, poultry and fish: 6
Nuts, seeds and dry beans: 1
Fats and oils: 3
Sweets: 0
April 10, 2015