American Heart Association Says New Dietary Guidelines Will Help Establish a Healthier Roadmap for Americans
The American Heart Association (AHA) applauds the Departments of Health and Human Services (HHS) and Agriculture (USDA) on the release of the 2016 Dietary Guidelines for Americans. “The new federal dietary guidelines give Americans more flexibility in their diets without sacrificing their health. By providing a valuable source of nutrition information, the standards are part of a roadmap to help build a ‘culture of health’ in America. This healthier culture will help reduce our risk for heart disease and stroke – the two leading causes of death in the world,” said Mark Creager, M.D., president of the American Heart Association. “We commend HHS and USDA for their transparent approach in developing these guidelines and for incorporating the science-based nutrition recommendations made by the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee.”
The Dietary Guidelines for Americans set a pattern for consumers to eat healthier by encouraging them to avoid trans-fat and limit saturated fat, added sugars, and sodium, while also encouraging them to increase their physical activity. Following this eating pattern may reduce the risk of chronic disease. “These guidelines will help us examine our diets in a more overall fashion. This ‘bigger picture’ view of our daily food consumption encourages more personal choice. Each American can use these guidelines to tailor their daily meals, meet their individual needs and work toward a healthier eating pattern,” added Creager.
The American Heart Association supports a healthy eating pattern similar to the HHS/USDA Guidelines and encourages consumers to do the following:
• Adopt the total diet concept recommended in the guidelines that an overall heart healthy dietary pattern emphasizes: fruits, vegetables and whole grains; include low-fat dairy products, poultry, fish and nuts; and limit red meat, sodium, sweets and sugar-sweetened beverages.
• Consume lower levels of sodium. For optimal heart-health, AHA recommends that most American adults should aim to eat no more than 1500 mg of sodium per day. Since the average American’s sodium intake is so excessive, even reducing sodium to
the 2,300 mg per day recommended by the Dietary Guidelines will produce significant improvement in the population’s blood pressure and heart health. Americans deserve the opportunity to choose how much sodium they are eating. Right now, that decision has been made for them by food manufacturers and the restaurant industry—about 77% of the sodium Americans consume comes from sodium added during processing.
• Maintain a healthy limit on saturated fats which can raise bad cholesterol levels and increase risk of heart diseases and stroke. Saturated fats are found mainly in animal fats, meat and dairy products and tropical oils like coconut and palm. To lower LDL-cholesterol in the blood, the American Heart Association continues to recommend limiting saturated fats to less than 5-6 percent of total calories consumed. For someone eating 2,000 calories a day, that’s about 11 to 13 grams of saturated fat a day. Trans-fats should be as limited as possible. Cholesterol is a waxy substance that comes from two sources: your body and food. Your body, and especially your liver, makes all the cholesterol you need and circulates it through the blood. But cholesterol is also found in foods from animal sources, such as meat, poultry and full-fat dairy products. These foods may also have higher amounts of saturated fats.
• For the first time, the guidelines include a definitive amount for the consumption of added sugars, less than 10 percent of calories per day. This gives Americans clear direction on how much sugar they can consume and still keep their weight and health in check. For example, in a person who needs 2,000 calories a day, this would be only 200 calories—less than the amount found in a 20 oz. sugar sweetened beverage if you didn’t get any added sugars from other foods. The AHA encourages Americans to curb consumption of added sugars, especially from sugar-sweetened beverages like regular sodas, sports drinks and fruit-flavored drinks. The AHA and the Dietary Guidelines both acknowledge eating and drinking too many excess calories is linked to obesity, a major risk factor for cardiovascular diseases like heart attacks and heart failure.
“Live Healthier, Longer Lives”
“The American Heart Association encourages all Americans to use these guidelines to achieve healthier eating patterns. The guidelines will be important tools to help families and communities live healthier, longer lives,” Creager said.