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The American Heart Association (AHA) is expanding and improving its Heart-Check Food Certification Program to allow certification of more foods containing healthier fats, among them fish and nuts. Additionally, the program will revise its sodium allowances and implement screening guidelines to limit added sugars and highlight dietary fiber in certified products.
Fish, nuts and other foods with heart-health benefits, including the presence of monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, are eligible for certification now. To give food manufacturers time to reformulate their production processes, the updated requirements covering sodium, sugar and fiber won’t take effect until 2014.
“With these enhancements, the Heart-Check program will help consumers easily identify and choose even more heart-healthy foods for themselves and their families,” noted AHA spokeswoman Rachel Johnson, the Bickford Green and Gold Professor of Nutrition at the University of Vermont in Burlington. “The Heart-Check program brings benefits to those companies invested in the health of their consumers. Not only does it add a level of credibility and trust that other programs don’t bring, but certification aligns food products with a leading heart-health organization.”
Established in 1995, the well-known red-and-white Heart-Check mark is currently featured on nearly 900 products. The Dallas-based AHA is updating the program to align with healthy-eating and lifestyle recommendations and priorities identified as part of its 2020 goal to improve the cardiovascular health of all Americans by 20 percent.
The look and feel of the mark will also change to offer more simplified language and boost visibility on packaging.