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Highlights from the February 2008 Journal of the American Dietetic Association

Dietary Evidence for Prevention and Treatment of Cardiovascular Disease

February is American Heart Month and, to mark the occasion, the Journal of the American Dietetic Association has published a comprehensive review of dietary factors for treating and preventing cardiovascular disease. The review of more than 150 recent research studies and other articles provide scientific rationale for food and nutrition professionals and other health professionals for counseling patients, according to the nationwide expert panel led by registered dietitian Linda Van Horn, professor and acting chair of the department of preventive medicine at Northwestern University and editor-in-chief of the Journal.

The panel examined the state of current research on the effectiveness of foods, nutrients and food components in reducing cardiovascular disease risk factors while also meeting a persons nutrient needs, and identified areas where further research is needed. The expert panels findings also provide the basis for ADAs Disorders of Lipid Metabolism Guides for Practice, a detailed resource for clinicians that is available to subscribers to ADAs Evidence Analysis Library,

Numerous dietary factors/nutrients have been identified that affect (cardiovascular disease) risk factors, the researchers write. An individualized dietary pattern is recommended to optimize CVD risk factor reduction while meeting nutrient needs.

The review identifies effective dietary considerations including a diet that:

  • Is low is saturated fatty acids, trans fatty acids and dietary cholesterol;
  • Is ample in total dietary fiber with emphasis on soluble fiber;
  • Includes fat-free/low-fat dairy foods and/or other calcium/vitamin D-rich sources;
  • Is rich in vitamins, minerals, phytochemicals and antioxidants from multiple servings of fruits and vegetables and low in sodium;
  • May include plant sterols and stanols in high-risk individuals; and
  • Achieves a healthful body weight and calorie balance with the recommended dietary intervention by increasing physical activity and maintaining adequate calorie intake.

Are Trans Fat Labels Working?

According to researchers at the University of Minnesota, the food industry has made progress in reducing the trans fat content in its products since a 2003 labeling mandate by the Food and Drug Administration, but consumers should still read labels to be certain the products are trans fat-free.

The researchers sampled products at Minneapolis-area supermarket to assess levels of trans fat and saturated fat in margarines and butters; cookies and snack cakes; and savory snacks. The researchers also examined the cost of these now trans fat-free foods, because technologies to reduce or eliminate trans fat are costly and create challenges for food manufacturers that may be passed on to the consumer.

Most margarines and butters (21 of 29), cookies and snack cakes (34 of 44) and savory snacks (31 of 40) were labeled as containing zero grams of trans fat. However, some of the products contained significant amounts of trans fat.

The researchers conclude: Consumers need to read product labels because the trans fat content of individual products can vary significantly. Products that are lower in trans and saturated fat tend to cost more, which may be a barrier to their purchase for price-conscious consumers.

Additional research articles in the February Journal of the American Dietetic Association include:

  • The Effectiveness of Medical Nutrition Therapy for Disorders of Lipid Metabolism Delivered by Registered Dietitians: A Call for Further Research
  • Dietary Quality One-Year after Diagnosis of Coronary Heart Disease
  • The Relationship among Cardiovascular Risk Factors, Dietary Patterns, Alcohol Consumption and Ethnicity among Women Aged 50 Years and Greater
  • Characteristics of the Dietary Patterns Tested in the Omniheart Trial to Prevent Heart Disease (Omniheart): Options for a Heart Healthy Diet
  • Metabolic Syndrome and Its Association with Diet and Physical Activity in U.S. Adolescents
  • Westernizing Diets Influence Fat Intake, Red Blood Cell Fatty Acid Composition and Health in Remote Alaska Native Communities in the CANHR Study.


Contact: Jennifer Starkey
American Dietetic Association

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