This document presents guidelines for reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease by dietary and other lifestyle practices.

Since the previous publication of these guidelines by the American Heart Association, the overall approach has been modified to emphasize their relation to specific goals that the AHA considers of greatest importance for lowering the risk of heart disease and stroke.

The revised guidelines place increased emphasis on foods and an overall eating pattern and the need for all Americans to achieve and maintain a healthy body weight. The major guidelines are designed for the general population and collectively replace the “Step 1” designation used for earlier AHA population-wide dietary recommendations.

More individualized approaches involving medical nutrition therapy for specific subgroups (for example, those with lipid disorders, diabetes, and preexisting cardiovascular disease) replace the previous “Step 2” diet for higher-risk individuals.

The major emphasis for weight management should be on avoidance of excess total energy intake and a regular pattern of physical activity.

Fat intake of ≤30% of total energy is recommended to assist in limiting consumption of total energy as well as saturated fat. The guidelines continue to advocate a population-wide limitation of dietary saturated fat to <10% of energy and cholesterol to <300 mg/d.

Specific intakes for individuals should be based on cholesterol and lipoprotein levels and the presence of existing heart disease, diabetes, and other risk factors. Because of increased evidence for the cardiovascular benefits of fish (particularly fatty fish), consumption of at least 2 fish servings per week is now recommended.

Finally, recent studies support a major benefit on blood pressure of consuming vegetables, fruits, and low-fat dairy products, as well as limiting salt intake (<6 grams per day) and alcohol (no more than 2 drinks per day for men and 1 for women) and maintaining a healthy body weight.

PMID: 11056107

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