Check the Heart-Check Mark for Heart-Healthy Foods

Check the Heart-Check Mark for Heart-Healthy Foods

The check mark. We use it to reference things done, take attendance and show something is correct. In short, the check mark means validation, a resounding “Yes!” So what does a check mark mean for your heart?

The American Heart Association (AHA) created the Heart-Check Food Certification Program to help you identify heart-healthy foods at a glance. Achieving this designation means a particular food meets AHA heart-healthy guidelines as part of an overall healthy diet and can use the mark on its packaging.

But it's more than just a symbol on a box. The Heart-Check mark is your first indication of what's inside and an invitation to make a heart-healthy choice. And it's not a certification that's easily acquired.

For starters, the AHA is serious about heart health because it's a vital component to our quality of life and longevity. The organization's mission is to build healthier lives free of cardiovascular disease and stroke. To support this, it has a goal to improve the cardiovascular health of all Americans by 20% by the year 20201 and believes healthy eating and regular physical activity are key to the mission's success.

The AHA Heart-Check program provides designations on products to make eating a heart-healthy diet easier. The program assures consumers that products meet consistent science-based nutritional standards. Each product has requirements for nutrition to limit, such as saturated fat, trans fat, cholesterol and sodium, and nutrients to encourage, such as fiber.

Only then does a food become certified to display the AHA Heart-Check mark:

What does this mean to you when choosing a heart-healthy food? If you are considering buying a breakfast cereal, you can compare all of the ingredients and nutritional values and try to determine which one, if any, is better. Or you can simply find the Heart-Check certification mark on the box and rest assured that what goes into your bowl has been verified by a trusted source to meet nutritional guidelines.

So that little check mark contains a lot of important information.

1Roger VL, Go AS, et al; on behalf of the American Heart Association Statistics Committee and Stroke Statistics Subcommittee. Heart disease and stroke statistics—2012 update: a report from the American Heart Association. Circulation. 2012: published online before print December 15, 2011, 10.1161/CIR.0b013e31823ac046.

American Heart Association. http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/GettingHealthy/NutritionCenter/HeartSmartShopping/Heart-Check-Mark-Food-Certification_UCM_300133_Article.jsp. Accessed February 8, 2013. Dallas, TX.

U.S. Food and Drug Administration. FDA Modernization Act Claims. http://www.fda.gov/Food/LabelingNutrition/LabelClaims/FDAModernizationActFDAMAClaims/ucm073621.htm. Accessed February 15, 2013. Silver Spring, MD

Please note that the Heart-Check Food Certification does not apply to recipes, food images, or information reached through links unless expressly stated. For more information, see the AHA nutrition guidelines at heartcheckmark.org/guidelines.

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