`Heart Association Declines to Endorse EVOO Consumption in Latest Guidance - Olive Oil Times

Heart Association Declines to Endorse EVOO Consumption in Latest Guidance

By Daniel Dawson
Nov. 15, 2021 09:38 UTC

The American Heart Association (AHA) has pub­lished its lat­est dietary guid­ance to improve car­dio­vas­cu­lar health.

The AHA guid­ance lists 10 dietary fea­tures that improve car­diometa­bolic health and reduce the risk of car­dio­vas­cu­lar dis­ease, from eat­ing plenty of fruits and veg­eta­bles to lim­it­ing the intake of alco­hol.

Olive oil is one of sev­eral exam­ples the state­ment pro­vides that peo­ple can choose as a source of monoun­sat­u­rated fat.- Maggie Francis, spokes­woman, AHA

However, notably absent from the AHA’s dietary guid­ance is a rec­om­men­da­tion to con­sume extra vir­gin olive oil instead of trop­i­cal oils and plant fats.

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As recently as March 2020, the AHA acknowl­edged that olive oil may help lower the risk of heart dis­ease” and is ben­e­fi­cial as a sub­sti­tute for but­ter or may­on­naise,” but did not specif­i­cally rec­om­mend olive oil con­sump­tion in its lat­est dietary guid­ance.

Instead, the AHA’s fifth fea­ture of a heart-healthy diet sim­ply rec­om­mends using liq­uid plant oils rather than trop­i­cal oils, ani­mal fats and par­tially hydro­genated fats.

The orga­ni­za­tion listed olive oil as a plant-based source of monoun­sat­u­rated fat, along with canola oil, high oleic acid saf­flower and sun­flower oils, peanuts, tree nuts and the but­ter derived from both. However, the AHA stopped short of explic­itly endors­ing extra vir­gin olive oil.

The 2021 Dietary Guidance to Improve Cardiovascular Health empha­sizes the impor­tance of dietary pat­terns, with less focus on indi­vid­ual foods and more focus on indi­vid­ual choice,” Maggie Francis, an AHA spokes­woman, told Olive Oil Times. The guid­ance is intended to sup­port peo­ple in mak­ing heart-healthy eat­ing deci­sions that fit var­i­ous lifestyles, envi­ron­ments and cul­tures.”

Robust sci­en­tific evi­dence demon­strates the car­dio­vas­cu­lar ben­e­fits of dietary unsat­u­rated fats (polyun­sat­u­rated and monoun­sat­u­rated fats), par­tic­u­larly as a replace­ment for sat­u­rated and trans fats,” she added. Olive oil is one of sev­eral exam­ples the state­ment pro­vides that peo­ple can choose as a source of monoun­sat­u­rated fat.”

While monoun­sat­u­rated fats are widely con­sid­ered to pro­mote car­dio­vas­cu­lar health, a recent study from Yale University showed that polyphe­nols in extra vir­gin olive oil also con­tributed to heart health.

However, Alice Lichtenstein, the lead author of the guid­ance, also empha­sized select­ing the best avail­able food options rather than rec­om­mend­ing spe­cific foods.

The way to make heart-healthy choices every day is to step back, look at the envi­ron­ment in which you eat, whether it be at home, at work, dur­ing social inter­ac­tion, and then iden­tify what the best choices are,” she said. And if there are no good choices, then think about how you can mod­ify your envi­ron­ment so that there are good choices.”

The AHA’s com­plete list of dietary rec­om­men­da­tions included:

  • Adjusting energy intake and expen­di­ture to main­tain healthy body weight;
  • Eating a wide vari­ety of deeply col­ored” fruits and veg­eta­bles;
  • Selecting foods made with whole grains instead of refined grains;
  • Choosing plant-based pro­teins instead of ani­mal-derived pro­teins;
  • Using liq­uid plant oils instead of trop­i­cal oils, ani­mal fats and hydro­genated fats;
  • Selecting min­i­mally processed foods instead of ultra-processed ones;
  • Minimizing the con­sump­tion of foods and bev­er­ages with added sug­ars;
  • Using less salt in food prepa­ra­tion and avoid­ing foods that are high in sodium;
  • Limiting alco­hol con­sump­tion;
  • Adhering to the above guide­lines regard­less of wher­ever food is pre­pared or con­sumed.

Along with list­ing the dietary fea­tures to pro­mote car­diometa­bolic health, the AHA also addressed the struc­tural chal­lenges of wide­spread adher­ence to heart-healthy dietary pat­terns in the United States.

The food envi­ron­ment has a sub­stan­tial influ­ence on people’s food choices, diet qual­ity and sub­se­quently car­dio­vas­cu­lar health at many lev­els, mak­ing it dif­fi­cult for many Americans to adhere to heart-healthy dietary pat­terns,” the AHA wrote.

The orga­ni­za­tion cited socioe­co­nomic fac­tors, such as struc­tural racism and neigh­bor­hood seg­re­ga­tion, tar­geted mar­ket­ing of unhealthy foods and bev­er­ages and food and nutri­tion inse­cu­rity as the biggest chal­lenges fac­ing the wide­spread adop­tion of their guide­lines.

While acknowl­edg­ing that there are no easy fixes to prob­lems that have been entrenched in the United States’ food envi­ron­ment for decades, the AHA said efforts to com­bat nutri­tional mis­in­for­ma­tion among the pub­lic and health­care pro­fes­sion­als and intro­duc­ing food and nutri­tion edu­ca­tion back into all lev­els of pub­lic edu­ca­tion would help.

Creating an envi­ron­ment that facil­i­tates, rather than impedes, adher­ence to heart-healthy dietary pat­terns among all indi­vid­u­als is a pub­lic health imper­a­tive,” the AHA con­cluded.


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