Put down the coconut oil, red wine in new heart health dietary guidelines

·3 min read

The American Heart Association has released new dietary guidelines for heart health, as part of its mission to reduce heart disease, the leading cause of death in the United States.

The change, said Dr. Stanley Wang, a cardiologist at Austin Heart and Heart Hospital of Austin, is really about making the guidelines more user-friendly. Instead of telling people how many grams of something to eat, the guidelines talk in broad strokes about making healthier choices.

"These 10 bullet points, we hope that will get absorbed by the public," Wang said. "The previous discoveries don't go away, but this is more approachable."

The guidelines closely follow a Mediterranean diet, one that emphases plants, healthy fats and lean proteins.

The two really eye-opening things, Wang said, are how strongly the American Heart Association comes out against tropical oils like coconut and palm, which became popular under ketogenic diet plans, and against alcohol use.

That theory that a glass or two of red wine is a heart healthy practice isn't found in these new recommendations. It's also a practice that many cardiologists, like Wang, have been trying to counsel against. "There are beaucoups of studies that (alcohol is) really bad for you in so many different ways," he said. Those include an increased risk of certain cancers and dementia, not just heart disease.

Flu season: How having the flu could damage your heart, increase risk for attack or disease

Here are the guidelines:

1. Adjust energy intake (calories) and expenditure (activity) to achieve and maintain a healthy body weight.

2. Eat plenty of and a variety of fruits and vegetables.

3. Choose whole-grain foods and products.

4. Choose healthy sources of protein (mostly plants; regular intake of fish and seafood; low-fat or fat-free dairy products; and if meat or poultry is desired, choose lean cuts and unprocessed forms).

5. Use liquid plant oils rather than tropical oils and partially hydrogenated fats.

Holiday gatherings: Ready to holiday? Before you gather with family and friends, think about COVID-19 safety

6. Choose minimally processed foods instead of ultraprocessed foods.

7. Minimize the intake of beverages and foods with added sugars.

8. Choose and prepare foods with little or no salt.

9. If you do not drink alcohol, do not start; if you choose to drink alcohol, limit intake.

10. Adhere to this guidance regardless of where food is prepared or consumed.

Heart health: Do not stop taking aspirin: Let risk factors, not age be guide for doctors' recommendations

These guidelines are coming out just weeks after the Food and Drug Administration recommended that manufacturers and restaurants reduce the amount of sodium in their food. The recommended daily allowance is 2,300 milligrams a day, but most people ages 2 and older are consuming 3,400 milligrams a day and 70% of that is added in the manufacturing of the food, not in salt that a person adds to a meal or is naturally in food.

The FDA is trying to get manufacturers to reduce the salt added to food. The American Heart Association also recommends choosing foods that are low in sodium.
The FDA is trying to get manufacturers to reduce the salt added to food. The American Heart Association also recommends choosing foods that are low in sodium.

This article originally appeared on Austin American-Statesman: Put down the coconut oil, red wine, American Heart Association says

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting