Healthy in a DASH: Meal Prep for Heart Health

Dairy is a key element of the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) Eating Plan. Focused on preventing and reducing blood pressure, DASH delivers the potassium, calcium, magnesium, fiber, and protein your body needs to fight heart disease through good-for-you foods. DASH also helps many people manage their weight – and it always tops the list of Best Diets Overall by U.S. News & World Reports.

DASH is simply a smart way to eat, and it may be the right fit for your family.

Let's take a deeper dive and use the DASH meal plan as your grocery list. You’ll gain a few great strategies for fitting DASH into your lifestyle, like how to shop the supermarket, especially spending a little bit of time in the dairy case.

The DASH meal plan delivers these benefits by increasing whole foods and low-fat dairy while limiting total and saturated fat.

  • DASH focuses on fruits, vegetables, whole grains and low-fat or fat-free dairy products.
  • DASH includes legumes, nuts, lean poultry and fish.
  • DASH limits high-sodium foods, sweets, sugary beverages and some red meats.

Dairy is important to DASH because low-fat and fat-free milk, cheese and yogurt boast a trio of nutrients: Calcium, potassium and magnesium.These nutrients benefit your heart, specifically lowering blood pressure.

Put these foods on your grocery list to ensure you get them every day:

Food Group

Daily Servings

1 Serving Equals

Milk and Dairy


8 oz low-fat milk
1 cup low-fat yogurt
1.5 oz low-fat cheese*



1 medium fruit
1/4 cup dried fruit
1/2 cup frozen or canned fruit
6 oz fruit juice



1 cup raw leafy vegetables
1/2 cup cooked vegetables
6 oz vegetable juice



1 slice bread
1/2 cup dry or hot cereal
1/2 cup cooked rice or pasta

Meat, Fish, Poultry

2 or less

3 oz cooked meat, poultry, or fish

Nuts, Seeds, Dried Beans

4-5 per week

1/3 cup nuts
2 tbsp seeds
1/2 cup cooked dried beans


*Whole fat dairy products can be included in the DASH Eating Plan, as long as caloric intakes aren’t exceeded 

A sample day on DASH could include a few easy-to-make recipes.

All these recipes are courtesy of Dr. John La Puma at Chicago’s C.H.E.F. Clinic, and have been developed specifically for DASH.

Two others great resources are the DASH Eating Plan and In Brief: Your Guide To Lowering Your Blood Pressure With DASH. And at, you’ll find meal ideas and shopping list prepared by a registered dietitian.

Finally, to find even more favorite recipes, explore our recipe section or visit Dairy MAX on Pinterest

By Katie McKee, MCN, RDN, LD

Katie has always loved teaching others about the power of nutrition. She has a background in journalism as a reporter, writer and editor and has been part of the Dairy MAX team since 2015. When she's not working, Katie enjoys cooking and spending time with her young son and family. Learn more about Katie

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