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    If you’re trialing a new eating routine, it’s like learning how to meal plan all over again: you have to come up with an approach that not only follows the routine’s guidelines but also factors in your nutritional needs, health goals, and personal tastes. 

    Exploring the DASH diet? Our meal plan serves up a colorful array of nutritious dishes, from fish to avocadoes and everything in between, making healthy eating a breeze!

    Talk about a lot of moving pieces!

    Lucky for you, we’re pretty good at puzzles. 

    If you’re intrigued by the DASH diet, our Simple Dash diet meal plan has all the expert-approved tools and ideas you need to start crafting the DASH diet meal plan of your wildest health-promoting dreams. 

    Let’s take a look. 

    Key takeaways

    • The DASH diet is designed to lower blood pressure and reduce your risk of heart disease,[1] but it can also lead to weight loss. 
    • A typical DASH diet shopping list favors fruits, veggies, whole grains, lean protein, and heart-healthy fats.  
    • No food is entirely forbidden from a DASH diet menu, but foods that are high in salt, sugar, or saturated fat generally make more limited appearances. 
    • The DASH diet may sound like a sprint, but slow and steady is the way to go to ensure safe, sustainable results. 
    • No eating routine will be health-promoting for everyone, so before changing up your eating habits, consult your healthcare provider.  

    What is the DASH diet?

    The definition and purpose of the DASH diet is pretty simple to remember — it’s right in the name: 


    Approaches to



    Built around lowering blood pressure, the DASH diet aims to reduce sodium intake while fueling you with blood-pressure-reducing nutrients like potassium, magnesium, calcium, protein, and fiber.[1] 

    Sort of a combination of the Mediterranean diet meal plan and the MIND diet, the DASH diet plan is a low-sodium eating routine that prioritizes vegetables, fruits, and whole grains while limiting ultra-processed foods and fatty meat and dairy products. Rather than prescribing certain amounts of certain foods, it focuses on serving sizes of different food groups (more on the specifics later!

    Benefits and drawbacks of the DASH diet

    Hypertension (or high blood pressure) is like the Big Bad Wolf of the health world: it may not always be obvious, but it can easily get in the way of your peaceful existence.

    Think of the DASH eating plan as your wolf defense system: it can help treat or prevent high blood pressure.[1] 

    Reducing high blood pressure can be beneficial for your health in several ways: 

    • Hypertension is one of the leading risk factors for heart disease,[2] so the DASH diet may improve heart health and lower the risk of heart failure.[3] 
    • High blood pressure can lead to an increased risk of kidney stones [4] and stroke,[5] so the DASH diet may reduce these risks. 
    • Hypertension and being overweight are often seen hand-in-hand,[6] so the DASH diet may be helpful in weight loss or weight maintenance.[7] 

    Although the DASH diet is largely a safe and health-promoting eating routine, it still has a few drawbacks: 

    • It requires careful meal planning and preparation — which can also mean it’s more challenging to stick to. 
    • Nutrient-dense foods like fresh produce often cost more than prepackaged or processed foods. 
    • Sodium can be sneaky in how it shows up on our plates, including store-bought sauces and condiments, so limiting such foods may be challenging.

    Who is it for?

    With its focus on reducing salt intake, the DASH diet is intended for anyone looking to lower their blood pressure or their overall risk of heart disease. It could also be a good option for losing weight or trimming fat. (Nope, they’re not the same! Check out our guide on fat loss vs. weight loss for the lowdown.)

    As with any eating routine, there’s no way to predict exactly how yours might react to the DASH diet. Plus, high blood pressure is a medical condition that requires ongoing personalized support. So, before you make any substantive changes to your eating routine or lifestyle, you should always work with your doctor — and registered dietitian, if you have one — to ensure your approach is safe, sustainable, and (hopefully!) successful for you.

    If you’re considering the DASH diet for weight loss, it’s also possible to combine the DASH diet with another eating routine that promotes weight loss, like intermittent fasting. Talk it over with your healthcare team, and if they’re on board, we can help. From general advice on what breaks a fast to guidance on constructing an intermittent fasting meal plan that is also DASH diet friendly, you can get access to our expert and personalized tips and advice by taking our Simple quiz

    Simple’s DASH diet food shopping list: what to eat and what to avoid

    One of the selling points of the DASH diet is that it’s less of a restrictive set of nutrition rules and more of a suggested shopping list: no food is inherently “bad” or forbidden, but some foods are more health-promoting and goal-oriented than others. Foods can also slide in different directions on that scale depending on how they’re prepared. (For example, banana’s benefits are undeniable, but if you fry them or douse them in sugar and rum — yum! — they might not be the best everyday choice for your fruit intake … ) 

    That said, let’s take a look at DASH diet foods. 

    FoodServing size Examples
    Fruits4–5 servings / dayapples, bananas, blueberries, raspberries, blackberries, strawberries, oranges, cherries
    Vegetables4–5 servings / daycarrots, broccoli, spinach, kale, Swiss chard, cauliflower, tomatoes, mushrooms, asparagus
    Whole grains6–8 servings / daybarley, brown rice, farro, bulgur wheat, oats, quinoa, whole grain bread, whole wheat pasta
    Fish and poultryup to 6 servings / daychicken, turkey, salmon, trout, cod, flounder
    Legumes, nuts, and seeds4–5 servings / weekbeans, chickpeas, lentils, tempeh, tofu, almonds, walnuts, cashews, chia seeds, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds
    Low-fat or fat-free dairy products2–3 servings / dayskim milk, cottage cheese, Greek yogurt
    Heart-healthy fats and oils2–3 servings / dayavocado, olive oil, corn oil, sunflower oil, canola oil

    While you should always strive to find a balance that works for you and your unique nutritional needs, goals, and preferences — another reason why your healthcare team should be involved! — these items are traditionally limited to five or fewer weekly serving sizes on a DASH diet food list. 

    Fatty meatsbeef, lamb, pork belly, bacon, ham, sausages, ribs, chicken thighs
    Full-fat dairy productswhole milk, cream, ice cream, cream cheese, butter, cheese
    Refined carbs and foods high in added sugarswhite bread, pastries, waffles, pancakes, white rice, sugary breakfast cereals, soda, sweets
    High-sodium foodschips, pretzels, pickles, cured meats, soy sauce, ketchup, canned soup with high sodium content
    Tropical oilscoconut oil, palm oil

    Simple’s free DASH diet 7-day meal plan

    Whether you’re looking for DASH diet breakfast inspo, new DASH diet lunch ideas, or easy DASH diet snacks to satisfy munchies between meals, our free DASH diet meal plan has it all.

    Focused on simple recipes with easy-to-source ingredients, this plan is built around DASH diet meals that are both health-promoting and hassle-free. 

    Finding a meal plan that works for you is a lot like dating: it can take a lot of trial and error (and lessons learned) along the way to figure out what suits you best. While the DASH diet can accommodate loads of dietary requirements — whether you’re vegan, vegetarian, pescatarian, gluten-free, dairy-free, or a die-hard carnivore — make sure to discuss your meal plan with your healthcare team before committing to a new routine. They’ll be best placed to factor in everything that makes you “you” and help you craft a personalized meal plan that nourishes every part of you.  

    Click here to download this DASH diet sample menu as a PDF.

    Beginners’ tips for success when meal planning for the DASH diet

    If your healthcare team gives you the green light to try the DASH diet, here are our tips for making the transition and the upkeep as simple and safe as possible. 

    1. Start small. Especially if you’re used to eating lots of salty or sugary treats, DASH diet meal plans may be a shock to your system. Ease into new eating habits to give yourself time to adjust — even changing one percent of your eating habits each week leads to a 4% difference by the end of the month. 
    2. Prioritize foods you already enjoy. No healthy eating routine is sustainable (or actually healthy, physically or mentally) if you’re trying to force-feed yourself things you don’t like.
    3. Make time for meal prep. To avoid the temptation of grabbing a few donuts on the way to work or sitting down to a late-night plate of fries, plan for some DASH diet meal prep ahead of your busiest days so you can have DASH-diet-friendly options ready to go.
    4. Become besties with your water bottle. Chronic dehydration can put you at risk for blood pressure irregularities [8] as well as general ickiness (the technical term for headaches, fatigue, cramps — you name it). Hydration is also an important part of successful weight loss,[9] and it can help with hunger pains as you adjust to new eating habits (it’s one of our favorite ways to hack hunger while fasting for a reason!). If you get sick of the plain stuff, try infusing it with herbs, spices, or slices of citrus fruit.
    5. Build in flexibility. When you’re DASH diet menu planning, don’t forget that you’re human, and you’ll have days where you “need” that sweet, sweet bag of Doritos or a big, juicy steak. That’s totally okay — no eating routine should be so rigid that you can’t occasionally have those uber crave-able foods you enjoy most. 

    Simple’s expert opinion and final thoughts

    With its emphasis on nutrient-dense whole foods and its benefits to blood pressure, heart health, and weight management, the DASH diet is a pretty health-promoting eating routine. However, between monitoring serving sizes and circumventing high-sodium and high-sugar foods, it may not always be the easiest routine to follow. 

    At Simple, we believe the best DASH diet meal plan — or the best meal plan in general — is one that works for you and your unique needs, goals, and preferences. We also champion the idea of eating well, not eating perfectly. Rather than trying to follow DASH diet examples without any wiggle room, give yourself the time and space to make health-promoting shifts. Change takes time, and any investment in improving your health and well-being is something to celebrate. 

    If you’re looking for a more flexible eating routine that may lead to the same health benefits but only dictates when you eat rather than what you eat, you might also check in with your doctor about intermittent fasting. It can be done on its own or combined with the DASH diet, but either way, we can help you come up with a plan. Take our Simple quiz to tell us more about you and your goals, and we’ll help you get started and stay on track.

    There are, however, a few categories of folks who we don’t recommend joining the intermittent fasting club. 

    Those who:  

    • are pregnant, breastfeeding, or trying to conceive
    • have type 1 diabetes
    • are on prescription medications 
    • are under the age of 18 or 80 years or older 
    • are extremely active
    • have a body mass index (BMI) <18.5
    • have an eating disorder or a history of one (or are at risk of developing one)

    Frequently asked questions about a DASH diet meal plan

    Whether the DASH diet is hard or easy might depend on who you ask! While it’s simple in theory — with limited rules and a fairly extensive and accessible list of potential foods to use as meal building blocks — it can be difficult to stick to since high-sodium foods are everywhere and meal planning, in general, can be a pain.

    How quickly you can see results on the DASH diet depends on a lot of individual factors. Some studies suggest you can see the impact on blood pressure in a couple of weeks,[10] but if you’re aiming for weight loss, you might see results more gradually (1 or 2 pounds per week is a safe target).

    Yes, the DASH diet recommends exercise — as do many health-promoting eating routines! Exercise is a great way to improve resting blood pressure,[11] alleviate hypertension,[12] and lose weight.[13] Plus, it has loads of mental health benefits.

    How many calories you should consume per day on the DASH diet will depend on your individual nutritional needs and your goals for your eating routine. Chat with your healthcare team to form a meal plan around your unique needs.
    Yes, you can be a vegan on the DASH diet. Many DASH diet foods are naturally vegan-friendly — hello, fruits, veggies, and whole grains! — but you’ll want to work with your healthcare team to find a meal plan that ensures you’re still getting enough protein, vitamins, and minerals that you might miss from animal protein and dairy products.
    1. Filippou CD, Tsioufis CP, Thomopoulos CG, Mihas CC, Dimitriadis KS, Sotiropoulou LI, et al. Dietary approaches to stop hypertension (DASH) diet and blood pressure reduction in adults with and without hypertension: A systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. Adv Nutr. 2020 Sep 1;11(5):1150–60.
    2. Masenga SK, Kirabo A. Hypertensive heart disease: Risk factors, complications and mechanisms. Front Cardiovasc Med. 2023 Jun 5;10:1205475.
    3. Ibsen DB, Levitan EB, Åkesson A, Gigante B, Wolk A. The DASH diet is associated with a lower risk of heart failure: A cohort study. Eur J Prev Cardiol. 2022 May 25;29(7):1114–23.
    4. Cappuccio FP, Strazzullo P, Mancini M. Kidney stones and hypertension: population based study of an independent clinical association. BMJ. 1990 May 12;300(6734):1234–6.
    5. Yu JG, Zhou RR, Cai GJ. From hypertension to stroke: Mechanisms and potential prevention strategies. CNS Neurosci Ther. 2011 Oct;17(5):577–84.
    6. Julius S, Valentini M, Palatini P. Overweight and hypertension : A 2-way street? Hypertension. 2000 Mar;35(3):807–13.
    7. Soltani S, Shirani F, Chitsazi MJ, Salehi-Abargouei A. The effect of dietary approaches to stop hypertension (DASH) diet on weight and body composition in adults: A systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled clinical trials. Obes Rev. 2016 May;17(5):442–54.
    8. Watso JC, Farquhar WB. Hydration Status and cardiovascular function. Nutrients. 2019 Aug 11;11(8).
    9. Bracamontes-Castelo G, Bacardí-Gascón M, Jiménez Cruz A. Effect of water consumption on weight loss: A systematic review. Nutr Hosp. 2019 Dec 26;36(6):1424–9.
    10. Appel Lawrence J., Moore Thomas J., Obarzanek Eva, Vollmer William M., Svetkey Laura P., Sacks Frank M., et al. A clinical trial of the effects of dietary patterns on blood pressure. N Engl J Med. 336(16):1117–24.
    11. Edwards JJ, Deenmamode AHP, Griffiths M, Arnold O, Cooper NJ, Wiles JD, et al. Exercise training and resting blood pressure: A large-scale pairwise and network meta-analysis of randomised controlled trials. Br J Sports Med. 2023 Oct;57(20):1317–26.
    12. Lopes S, Mesquita-Bastos J, Alves AJ, Ribeiro F. Exercise as a tool for hypertension and resistant hypertension management: Current insights. Integr Blood Press Control. 2018 Sep 20;11:65–71.
    13. Bellicha A, van Baak MA, Battista F, Beaulieu K, Blundell JE, Busetto L, et al. Effect of exercise training on weight loss, body composition changes, and weight maintenance in adults with overweight or obesity: An overview of 12 systematic reviews and 149 studies. Obes Rev. 2021 Jul;22 Suppl 4(Suppl 4):e13256.