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The Daily Need

AHA urges stricter guidelines for sodium, fat intake

How much salt and saturated fat is OK? According the American Heart Association, quite a lot less than the limits suggested by the USDA.

This week, the U.S. Department of Agriculture issued its “2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans.” The guidelines, first published in 1980 and updated every five years, play an important role in federal nutrition programs. But according to the American Heart Association, the new USDA guidelines’ recommendations on sodium and saturated fat intake represent a step backwards in the campaign to promote good health among Americans.

The 2010 guidelines advise people who have or are at risk for high blood pressure to reduce their daily sodium intake to 1,500 mg per day. And for those adults who do not have high blood pressure, the recommendation is to keep their intake below 2,300 mg per day. Both benchmarks remain unchanged from the 2005 report. But according to the AHA, the daily intake of sodium should be limited to less than 1,500 mg a day for all adults, not just those with or at risk for high blood pressure.

As for the saturated fat recommendation, the 2010 guidelines allow for 10 percent of calories from saturated fat – also unchanged from the 2005 report. However, the AHA recommends less than seven percent of calories per day from saturated fat for adults.

“[T]he American Heart Association is concerned that the USDA/HHS sodium and saturated fat guidance does not reflect the current scientific evidence or expert consensus,” said Ralph Sacco, M.D., the president of the AHA, in a press release issued on Monday.

The AHA contends that lowering both the sodium and saturated fat intake recommendations would benefit the overall population’s health.

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