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Q: My doctor told me I should try the DASH diet. What is it and why do so many doctors recommend it?

DASH stands for Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension. It's a lifelong approach to healthy eating that's designed to help treat or prevent high blood pressure (hypertension). In research studies, the DASH diet has been shown to reduce systolic blood pressure by 8 to 14 points. (Systolic blood pressure is the first of the two numbers you see when you get your blood pressure taken.)

The DASH diet encourages you to reduce the sodium in your diet and eat a variety of foods rich in nutrients that are known to help lower blood pressure—such as potassium, calcium and magnesium. Because the DASH diet is a healthy way of eating, it offers health benefits besides just lowering blood pressure. The DASH diet also lines up with dietary recommendations that are intended to prevent osteoporosis, cancer, heart disease, stroke and diabetes.

You'll find lots of resources about the DASH diet online and in book stores. I encourage you to read more about it and try some tasty DASH-friendly recipes for you and your family.