Revised dietary guidelines announced earlier this month by the American Heart Association (AHA) focus on overall dietary patterns and maintenance of appropriate body weight rather than on the percentage of calories consumed in certain forms of food.
The AHA is still recommending that people restrict their intake of dietary cholesterol to less than 300 mg/day and that no more than 10% of total calories come from saturated fat, but the association has translated these recommendations into simpler food guidelines. The basic guideline is to consume an overall healthy diet, which means to eat a diet high in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, low- and no-fat dairy products, legumes, poultry and lean meat.
A second major emphasis of the new guidelines is prevention of weight gain.
Lastly, the guidelines emphasize attainment and maintenance of an optimal blood lipid profile and blood pressure. To this end the AHA recommends limiting salt intake and reducing consumption of trans-fatty acids and foods high in saturated fat. New to the guidelines is the recommendation that two servings per week of fatty fish, such as tuna or salmon, should be included in the diet to increase the intake of omega 3 fatty acids.
Additionally, because the AHA is concerned with total cholesterol intake, it has modified its guideline on restriction of egg consumption. It now allows that eating an egg a day is fine as long as total cholesterol intake remains below 300 mg per day.
The new guidelines are designed for the general population and they need to be individualized for people who have risk factors for coronary heart disease.
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