Can you do the DASH?

May 17th is World Hypertension Day.  The theme of this year’s day is: “know your numbers: target your blood pressure”.  This is great advice for people who have or are at risk for CKD.  For more information check out  According to this group high blood pressure or hypertension is the single leading risk factor for preventable stroke, heart and kidney disease.  And what you eat can play a huge role in blood pressure.

I’ve blogged many times about the need to limit salt or sodium to help lower blood pressure. Other important measures include maintaining a healthy body weight, being physically active most days and limiting alcohol or drinking in moderation. There is however another, important nutritional approach when it comes to high blood pressure. It’s known as the DASH Diet.  This stands for Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension. Combining the DASH diet with a reduction in your salt intake has been shown in clinical studies to have a big benefit for lowering blood pressure.

The DASH diet is quite simply a very high fruit and vegetable diet (usually 8-10 servings) with modest amounts of meat, poultry and fish. It includes low fat dairy and encourages nuts, seeds and legumes several times per week.

But the DASH diet isn’t for everyone.  Can YOU do the DASH?

This is a very high potassium diet so if you require a potassium restriction then the DASH isn’t for you. But you can still incorporate some elements of this diet by eating as many low potassium fruits and vegetables as allowed by your meal plan (usually no more than 6 small servings per day).  And those on a phosphorus and potassium restriction will need to limit their nuts and seeds and reduce milk intake as well (usually ½-1cup per day).  Talk to your dietitian about what parts of this diet can work for you.

If you are looking to reduce your risk for CKD or for general healthy eating the DASH diet can be a great tool. For more detailed information check out this fact sheet from the Dietitians of Canada website www.dietitians.caUsing the DASH Diet to Help Lower Blood Pressure

So in keeping with the theme of fruits and vegetables here is a simple low sodium, low potassium, low phosphorus salad that is a perfect summer side dish.

Garlic Green Bean Salad (serves 4)
2 cups green beans
1 clove minced garlic
1 tbsp balsamic or red wine vinegar
1 tbsp sesame oil

Clean beans and cook in boiling water until tender. Drain and cool immediately under cold water.  Toss beans with garlic, vinegar and sesame oil.

Recipe developed by Chef Leslie Cairns

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