Americans have grown to trust organizations, such as the American Heart Association (AHA) and the American Cancer Society (ACS), as benevolent benefactors of our general health and well-being.
Not necessarily true. The ACS has gradually lost its credibility for two reasons: devoting precious little of their resources to cancer prevention and selling their endorsement to product manufacturers for a pricey sum.
The AHA is also not so pure. When you see a label displaying a big, red heart, with the American Heart Association saying “This product meets AHA guidelines…” you’ll be surprised how loose these guidelines really are and how the junkiest of foods display this label and meet the guidelines.
The following are the AHA guidelines for “heart-healthy eating”:
- Total fat intake should be no more than 30 percent of total calories.
- Saturated fatty acid should be 8-10 percent of total calories.
- Polyunsaturated fatty acid should be up to 10 percent of total calories.
- Monounsaturated fatty acids should be up to 15 percent of total calories.
- Cholesterol intake should be less than 300 milligrams per day.
- Sodium intake should be less than 2,400 milligrams per day.
- Carbohydrate intake should make up 55-60 percent or more of calories, with emphasis on increasing sources of complex carbohydrates.
- Total calories should be adjusted to achieve and maintain a healthy body weight.
Here are the problems with these guidelines:
- Many nutritionists believe 30 percent fat of total calories is too high for many people.
- The AHA guidelines are so clogged with cholesterol recommendations that they’ve omitted more important nutritional issues. For example, the AHA omits advising people to shun hydrogenated or fake fats, which are actually more damaging to the body than “cholesterol”. If this were the case, many of the common household foods would have to remove the red heart so proudly and misleadingly displayed on their label.