To study the association between adherence to several a priori-defined healthy food patterns and the risk of hypertension.Prospective, multipurpose, dynamic cohort study (recruitment permanently open). We followed up 10 800 men and women (all of them university graduates), who were initially free of hypertension, for a variable period (range 2-6 years, median 4.6 years). During follow-up, 640 participants reported a new medical diagnosis of hypertension. Baseline diet was assessed using a validated 136-item FFQ. Validated information about non-dietary potential confounders was also gathered. We calculated adherence to fifteen different hypothesis-oriented food patterns and assessed the association between each of them and incident hypertension using multivariable Cox models.The SUN (Seguimiento Universidad de Navarra - University of Navarra Follow-up) Project, Spain.Participants recruited to the SUN cohort before October 2005 were eligible for inclusion; after excluding those with self-reported hypertension or CVD at baseline, or with extreme total energy intake, data of 10 800 were analysed.Higher adherence to the DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) diet (range of the score: 0 to 5) was significantly associated with a lower risk for developing hypertension (P for trend = 0.02). The other food patterns showed no significant association with incident hypertension.Our results support a long-term protection of the DASH diet against the incidence of hypertension, but we found no evidence of a similar inverse association with hypertension for any other a priori-defined healthy food pattern.