Porridge is a great start to the day. Photo: Cleanlight Photo

The DASH Dietary Pattern

By Diarmuid Duggan

The Dash (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) diet is a whole food diet pattern with proven medical benefits. DASH originated in the US, where heart problems are prolific, and it’s described as a ‘flexible and balanced eating plan that helps create a heart-healthy eating style for life’.

Two major government funded studies showed that the DASH dietary approach lowered blood pressure and LDL cholesterol (LDL cholesterol in particular is associated with blockages of your arteries).

The plan recommends the following:

· Eating vegetables, fruits, and whole grains

· Include low fat dairy foods, fish, poultry, beans, nuts and vegetable oils

· Limit foods that are high in saturated fats such as fatty meats, full fat dairy foods, and tropical oils such as coconut and palm oils.

· Limit sugar sweetened drinks and sweets.

Here are some sample recipes thanks to UCC MSc Dietetics student Zoe Lynch:

Breakfast: Porridge bowl + orange juice


· 40g pinhead oats/regular rolled oats

· 150mls low fat milk/protein milk

· 1 tsp chia seeds

· Handful of raspberries

· 150ml orange juice (not from concentrate)


· If using pinhead oats cover and soak in water in the fridge overnight and drain the following morning before cooking.

· Stir the oats into 150mls of low-fat milk in a saucepan over a medium-high heat. Bring to the boil and simmer for 3 minutes, stirring.

· Once cooked, top with chia seeds and raspberries and serve with a glass of orange juice.

Lunch: Quinoa salmon salad with sourdough bread


· 50g quinoa

· 2 tbsp olive oil

· 2 salmon fillets

· 75g spinach

· ½ cucumber

· 1 ripe avocado

· 1 red pepper

· 25g pumpkin seeds, toasted in a pan

· 1 tbsp lemon juice

· 1 slice of sourdough bread


· Cook the quinoa according to the instructions.

· Heat 1 tbsp of olive oil in a pan, add the salmon, flesh side down. Cook for 4-5 minutes, turn then cook for a further 4-5 minutes on the other side. Once cooked, flake the salmon with a fork and set aside.

· In a bowl, mix together the cooked quinoa, spinach, avocado, red pepper and cucumber.

· Place the flaked salmon on top of the salad, sprinkle with the toasted pumpkin seeds and drizzle the remaining tbsp oil olive oil and lemon juice on top.

· Serve with a slice of sourdough bread.

Dinner: Lentil + bean chilli con carne with brown rice

· 150g green lentils, dry

· 2 medium carrots

· 2 cloves of garlic

· 2 sticks of celery

· 2 red peppers

· 1 tsp chilli powder

· 1 tsp ground cumin

· 1 tsp ground cinnamon

· 400g tin of chickpeas

· 400g tin of kidney beans

· 2 x 400g tin of chopped tomatoes

· 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar

· ½ cup cooked brown rice

· Bunch of fresh coriander

· Wedge of lime


· Cook the green lentils as per the instructions.

· Peel and finely chop the onions, garlic, carrots and celery.

· Remove the seeds from the red peppers and roughly chop.

· Place 1 tbsp of olive oil in a large pan over a medium heat and add the vegetables.

· Add chilli powder, cumin and cinnamon. Allow to cook for 5-10 minutes stirring continuously.

· Drain the lentils once cooked along with the chickpeas and kidney beans. Add the lentils, chickpeas, kidney beans and tinned tomatoes to the vegetable mix.

· Add the balsamic vinegar.

· Bring to the boil and turn down the heat allowing it to simmer with the lid on for 45 minutes to an hour, stirring occasionally.

· Serve with cooked brown basmati rice, chopped coriander and a wedge of lime.

With this dietary pattern it is recommended that we choose foods that are:

· Low in saturated and trans fats

· Rich in calcium, magnesium, fibre, and protein

· Lower in sodium

Diarmuid Duggan, Dieticic Manager; BSc Sport & Exercise Science, PgDip in Nutritional Science, PgDip in Dietetics, Ma Cognitive & Behavioural Therapy

Diarmuid is Dietetic Manager at the Bons Secours Hospital Cork.