Northwest NEWS

May 27, 2002


Healthy Living: American Heart Association Dietary Guidelines

by Daniel Ball, MS
   These guidelines from the American Heart Association are not as stringent as they appear.
   The problem lies in understanding these recommendations and then putting them into action. Not understanding should not be an excuse for not complying.
   Your doctor, a certified nutritionist, and/or personal trainer can help you make sense of these guidelines and structure a program to help you make them part of your daily life.
   The American Heart Association (AHA) has recently updated its dietary guidelines for all Americans to achieve and maintain a healthy weight and to reduce effect of modifiable health risks ( The two key components of this plan is the avoidance of excess total energy intake (calories) and regular physical activity.
   The key recommendations are designed to assist individuals in achieving a balanced healthy lifestyle in four areas: healthy eating patterns, body weight, cholesterol and blood pressure.
   1. A healthy eating pattern includes foods from all major food groups:
   Eat a variety of fruits and vegetables; choose five or more servings a day.
   Consume a variety of grain products, including whole grains six or more servings a day.
   2. Maintain a healthy body weight with the following guidelines:
   Match intake of total energy (calories) to overall energy needs. Essentially, not consuming more calories than you burn throughout the entire day.
   Maintain an exercise program that helps you maintain or exceed your energy intake for weight loss and maintenance. Walk or do other activities for at least 30 minutes on most days.
   3. Maintain a desirable blood cholesterol and lipid profile by:
   Limit intake of foods high in fatty acids (fried food, fast food, etc).
   Keep saturated fat intake at less than 10 percent of energy intake. Include fat-free and low-fat milk products, fish, legumes (beans), skinless poultry, and lean meats. Choose fats with 2g or less of saturated fat per serving, such as liquid and tub margarines, canola oil, and olive oil.
   Limit intake of trans-fatty acids; the major culprit here is hydrogenated fat.
   Limit dietary cholesterol intake to less than 300 mg/day on average.
   Substitute grains and unsaturated fatty acids from fish, vegetables, legumes and nuts.
   4. Maintain a desirable blood pressure:
   Limit salt intake to 6 g/day.
   Maintain a healthy body weight.
   Limit alcohol intake (no more than two drinks per day for men and one for women.
   Maintain a dietary program that emphasizes fruits, vegetables, and low-fat dairy products.
   Daniel Ball, MS is a Health Educator and Master Personal Trainer.(425) 844-4039 or