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American Heart Association Dietary and Lifestyle Recommendations Revised

Jun 27, 2006

The American Heart Association (AHA) revised their dietary and lifestyle recommendations aimed at preventing cardiovascular disease and published them in the June 19 Rapid Access issue of Circulation. The 2006 AHA diet and lifestyle recommendations include guidelines for a healthy diet; healthy weight; cholesterol, BP, and fasting blood sugar control; use of supplements; physical activity; and avoidance of tobacco.

Updates from the 2000 AHA guidelines include more restrictive fat intake recommendations, more specific physical activity guidelines, and recommendations for supplementation.

"The previous recommendations stressed a healthy dietary pattern; the new ones broaden that concept to include the importance of a healthy lifestyle pattern, lead author and chair of the AHA’s Nutrition Committee Alice Lichtenstein, DSc, from Tufts University in Boston, Mass, said in a news release. "The two go together — they should be inseparable."

The revised guidelines update those issued in 2000, and they are directed at healthy Americans age 2 years and older. New recommendations are further reducing dietary saturated and trans fatty acids; minimizing consumption of food and beverages with added sugars; emphasizing physical activity and weight control; eating a diet rich in vegetables, fruits, and whole-grain foods; avoiding use of and exposure to tobacco products; and achieving and maintaining healthy cholesterol, blood pressure, and blood glucose levels.

"The key message of the recommendations is to focus on long-term, permanent changes in how we eat and live," Dr. Lichtenstein says. "The best way to lower cardiovascular risk is to combine physical activity with heart-healthy eating habits, coupled with weight control and avoiding tobacco products."

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