Tuesday, July 18, 2006

AHA Offers More Details to 2006 Diet & Lifestyle Recommendations

The American Heart Association has yet to provide a single day (or seven-day) menu to provide details to the public or healthcare providers about how to follow their new 2006 Diet & Lifestyle Recommendations issued last month.

In my June 22nd challenge, I placed a $1,000 reward for anyone who can design a menu that meets the AHA guideline restricting saturated fat to less than 7% of total calories while also meeting all essential nutrient requirements (vitamins, minerals, trace elements, essential fatty acids and essential amino acids) and is within the AHA guidelines for cholesterol, sodium and types of foods to include (or avoid).

I almost expected the AHA would immediately submit a menu to my challenge to prove it can be done. I mean, hey, they have a team of nutrition experts to call on and compile such a menu fairly quickly (if it can be done), right?

Well, instead of posting a menu to help someone understand how to follow their new guideline, they've included a guideline detailing how many servings of each food group should be included in a daily menu to comply with their guidelines. For those taking part in the challenge, it is a requirement to follow all AHA recommendations, including this new set of information regarding number of servings from each food group.

Which places those who have already submitted a menu that failed at a disadvantage - the AHA hadn't provided clear guidance previously at the start of the challenge to guide the design of a menu. So, in the spirit of good sportsmanship, I am extending an invitation for re-submission of a revised menu to those who previously submitted a menu who would like to try again with a menu based on this more detailed information.

Since the challenge menu requires 1956-calories (+/- 5 calories), designed for a female-30, the following guideline is provided by the AHA:
  • Grains:
    6-8 servings a day; half from whole grain sources
  • Vegetables:
    4-5 servings a day
  • Fruits:
    4-5 servings a day
  • Fat-free or low-fat dairy:
    2-3 servings a day
  • Lean meats, poultry, seafood:
    Less than 6-ounces (cooked) a day
  • Fats and oils:
    2-3 servings a day
  • Nuts, seeds and legumes:
    4-5 servings per week
  • Sweets and added sugars:
    Less than 5 per week

Details about what constitutes a serving size is available on the AHA website.

To date none of the menus I've received comply with the above serving recommendaitons issued by the AHA. And, so far none I've finished analyzing meet the challenge requirement to be within the AHA guidelines and provide for essential nutrients. If you've previously submitted a menu and it was found to be deficient, you may try again at this time since the AHA has provided more detail since the challenge started. If a menu submitted is currently under review, and is not within the above guideline, I will return it to you for revision to allow you to create a menu within the above standard issued by the AHA.

Oh, and if you haven't yet tried to do a menu - go for it, I have $1,000 sitting here for the first person who creates a menu that includes the above servings for each food group and meets all the other challenge requirements detailed previously!

Good Luck!


  1. Ok, this just made it more impossible. They're pretty much idiots, less than 6 ounces of lean meat? There is no reason to reason to eat less than 6 ounces of lean meat a day, it's very nutritious and by virtue of being lean, it's low in fat.

    I don't know if I'll even try to fix my menu to fit in with these recommendations because I don't think it can be done.

  2. In their original full-text document, they did point to TLC and DASH as dietary patterns that would comply with their recommendations. Until recently they hadn't included the servings from foods groups within their own website. I'd already concluded if you were following it in the spirit (ie. complying with their guideline and within the two they pointed to - TLC or DASH) it was impossible to do it.

    Now it's definitely impossible.

  3. "Use liquid vegetable oil and soft margarines most often." Well, that is helpful. No serious guidance here.

  4. I don't think they've done it on purpose, but they're setting up the American public for failure and nutrient deficiency.

    We already have a major problem in the US with micronutrient insufficiency in our population - this will only add to it if the new recommendations are followed.

    More disturbing though is the AHA will, in the future, have the "out" to say "well we gave you guidelines, if only you followed them you'd be healthier" --- without a clear and concise example (a menu)to the public, no one can follow the guidelines they've issued.

  5. Makes you wonder how THEY eat - I'd love to visit the AHA cafeteria!

  6. I'm with regina on this. I think it's impossible to eat that way and get all your vitamins, etc. without a supplement.

    Heck, I eat low-carb which I think is very healthy and even I take vitamins!