American Heart Association stamp of approval

The American Heart Association (AHA) has a program called the Heart-Check Mark, an “approval” process that permits a food manufacturer to affix the AHA logo and stamp of approval on various food products.

A company simply makes application to the AHA. The application and product details are reviewed and then approved or turned down.

To date, 106 companies have obtained the AHA stamp of approval on 768 products. What kinds of products are on the approved list? Here’s a sample:

–Honey Bunches of Oats

–Kellogg’s Frosted Mini-Wheats

–Cocoa Puffs cereal

–Cookie Crisp cereal (“The great taste of chocolate chips in every bite!”)

There are 764 others. If you doubt this, just go to the store and take a look at the product containers.

What the heck is going on here? Most of us with any judgment know that these products are pure sugar. They may contain “no more” than 15-40 grams sugar per sugar, but the principal products–corn, wheat, fructose–mean that these products are, in effect, nearly pure sugar. Yet they carry the AHA stamp of approval.

What do products like this cause? It’s a long list but the major effects include:

–Obesity

–Diabetes

–Drop in HDL

–Rise in triglycerides

–Small LDL particles

–Heightened inflammation (i.e., C-reactive protein)

–Mental cloudiness

Need I go on? Why are products like these and many others deserving of the AHA heart-check approval? Because they lack high fat and saturated fat (3.0 grams, 1.0 grams respectively, by AHA criteria). In other words, just lacking these ingredients means that, to the AHA, they qualify as “heart healthy.”

By that same line of reasoning, many candy bars are “heart healthy”, as are many cookies and cupcakes.

What’s the reason behind this extraordinary absurdity? Is the AHA stupid?

There may be many reasons, but one very suspicious fact becomes immediately obvious when you realize these endorsements product a substantial revenue source for the AHA, since companies must pay for the right to use the heart-check approval mark. Also, just look at the major contributors (millions of dollars) to the AHA: ConAgra, General Mills, Kraft, etc.) You get the picture.

Does this make the AHA evil? Not necessarily. But it seriously erodes credibility. it also should make you very leery of any advice that comes from such an agency that is reluctant to bite the food manufacturer hands that feed it.

In my view, we simply cannot rely on the AHA for genuine, unbiased heart health advice.



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8 Responses to American Heart Association stamp of approval

  1. Nancy says:

    I completely agree. The ADA is just as terrible with their horrible food recommendations. But it does harm people, people are being told over and over that “whole grains” are healthy and so they eat them, and they’re not healthy.

    Dr. Davis, I haven’t read much from you about dairy products. That’s another food group getting pushed at us by everyone, yet I read recently about casein in dairy products causing LDL cholesterol to oxidize. Do you have any input on that?

  2. Dr. Davis says:

    I remain undecided about dairy products.
    Several issues need to be factored in:
    1) Current day dairy products are not what they used to be–livestock are fed differently, often live on life-long antibiotics and growth-enhancing agents.
    2) Glycemic index–I have a personal problem with this. I have eliminated virtually all dairy products except fermented cheeses, and low-fat cottage cheese and yogurt in small quantities and I can tell a marked difference in the way I feel.
    3) The oxidation-antioxidation issue, in my mind, provides more fuel for supplement sales than real opportunity for meaningful treatment. Until we have some feedback that antioxidation strategies provide real advantage, I remain undecided about the real value.

    All in all, I am uncertain of how large a role dairy products should play. There’s such a range of products from highly-processed yogurt in squeeze bags that are little more than chemiclals with sugar, to tradiational fermented cheeses rich in vitamin K2.

  3. Dev says:

    I completely agree.

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  7. buy jeans says:

    Need I go on? Why are products like these and many others deserving of the AHA heart-check approval? Because they lack high fat and saturated fat (3.0 grams, 1.0 grams respectively, by AHA criteria). In other words, just lacking these ingredients means that, to the AHA, they qualify as "heart healthy."

  8. Elliot Cranes says:

    Great news for the medical field!

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