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:
–Drop in HDL
–Rise in triglycerides
–Small LDL particles
–Heightened inflammation (i.e., C-reactive protein)
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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