New Guidelines May Widen Use of Statins
Recommendations focus on patient risk factors rather than cholesterol numbers, experts say
Healthy Diet and Exercise
A healthy diet -- not necessarily a low-calorie diet -- and exercise reduce the risk for cardiovascular disease by lowering blood pressure and cholesterol.
"Dietary patterns that are heart-healthy... include lots of fish, vegetables and whole grains, and limit saturated fats, trans fats and sodium," cholesterol committee co-chairman Dr. Robert Eckel, a professor of medicine at the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus in Aurora, said during the press briefing.
A heart-healthy diet of 2,000 calories per day should include:
- Four or five servings of fruit daily,
- Four or five servings of vegetables daily,
- Six to eight servings of whole grains daily,
- Two or three servings of fat-free or low-fat dairy products daily,
- Six or fewer ounces of poultry or fish daily,
- Four or five servings of nuts, legumes and seeds a week,
- Two or three servings of healthy oils a day,
- Limited sweets and sugars.
To reduce high blood pressure, limit salt intake to 1,500 milligrams a day, the committee said. U.S. adults currently consume an average of about 3,600 milligrams a day.
One key to heart-healthy eating is avoiding trans fats, which serve no nutritional purpose but are often added to foods to extend shelf life or improve texture. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration announced a plan last week to ban these man-made fats from all processed foods. These are often listed on labels as partially hydrogenated oils.
The guidelines also recommend moderate- to vigorous-intensity aerobic exercise, such as brisk walking, for about 40 minutes three or four times a week.