Key Heart Health Guidelines Released in 2017
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Now that 2018 has arrived, New Year’s resolutions are a popular topic and, for many consumers, better heart health is a top priority. Good Fats 101™ is a great resource for nutrition professionals as you guide clients toward meeting their 2018 heart health goals; stay up to date on research and use shopping guides and lists, meal plans, recipes and other education tools. We also recommend incorporating recommendations from two key reports released in 2017.

American Heart Association (AHA) Presidential Advisory: Dietary Fats and Cardiovascular Disease

In June, the AHA released a Presidential Advisory on dietary fats and heart health. In the advisory, AHA reviewed the current science surrounding dietary fats and reinforced its recommendation to replace saturated fats with poly- and monounsaturated fats to help prevent heart disease.

Below are key messages included in the report (you can review the full report here).

  • Saturated fat raises LDL (bad) cholesterol, an important risk factor for cardiovascular disease (CVD).
  • Coconut oil raises LDL cholesterol the same way as other saturated fats found in butter, beef fat and palm oil.
  • Lower saturated fat intake and higher consumption of polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats are linked to lower rates of CVD.
  • Reducing saturated fat intake and replacing with polyunsaturated vegetable oil reduces CVD by approximately 30 percent — an effect similar to cholesterol-lowering statin drugs.
  • Replacing saturated fat with refined carbohydrates and sugars is not associated with lower rates of CVD.

Within the advisory, AHA recommends following healthy eating plans such as DASH and Mediterranean diets, as they both emphasize consuming healthy foods such as unsaturated vegetable oils, nuts, fruits, vegetables, low-fat dairy products, whole grains, fish and poultry and limiting red meat, added sugars and salt.

2017 High Blood Pressure Clinical Practice Guidelines

In November, the American College of Cardiology (ACC) and AHA together released the 2017 High Blood Pressure Clinical Practice Guidelines. While dietary fats are not a key focus in the report, because Good Fats 101 supports all aspects of a heart healthy lifestyle, we are sharing an overview of this report.

This update focuses heavily on lifestyle factors such as diet, exercise, weight loss and alcohol consumption, as well as the more traditional clinical/pharmacological interventions. You can access the full report here, but we’ve also provided a summary of the key lifestyle interventions for achieving healthy blood pressure.

  • Achieve or maintain a healthy weight. This can lower blood pressure by 1 mm Hg per kilogram (2.2 pounds) reduction in body weight.
  • Follow a healthy diet. Similar to AHA’s Presidential Advisory, the guidelines recommend following a dietary pattern rich in fruits, vegetables and low-fat dairy and reducing saturated and total fat, such as the DASH diet. For hypertensive patients, this could have as much as an 11 mmHG effect on systolic blood pressure.
  • Reduce sodium intake. The optimal goal is <1500 mg per day, but a 1000 mg reduction from a patient’s current sodium intake is a good starting point and could lower blood pressure by 5–6 mmHg.
  • Increase potassium intake. Aim to consume 3500–5000 mg per day, ideally in the form of food rather than supplements, with blood pressure reductions similar to reducing sodium.
  • Drink alcohol in moderation. Men should drink no more than two alcoholic beverages each day, while women should limit themselves to one daily drink.
  • Be physically active. Each week, complete 90–150 minutes of aerobic activity (effects on blood pressure could reach a drop of as much as 5–8 mmHg) and strength train for 90–150 minutes (could result in a 4–5 mmHG drop on systolic pressure).

Count on Good Fats 101 to keep you current on the latest news, research and trends in dietary fats, including heart health, in 2018. Visit the website and blog, or sign up for updates from our team.