Meeting the AHA’s criteria for heart-healthy foods as “part of an overall healthy dietary pattern” is no small task. Given the fact the news broke during National Heart Month, it couldn’t have been better timed.
What does it take to get a lean stamp of approval?
The criteria used for heart-healthy consideration is based on science evaluations of nutritional requirements, values, and dietary recommendations. Here’s a look at the AHA guidelines set forth for lean meat:
Total Fat: Less than 5 g (also per 100 g*)
Saturated Fat: Less than 2 g (also per 100 g*)
Trans Fat: Less than 0.5 g (also per label serving*). Products containing partially hydrogenated oils are not eligible for certification.
Cholesterol: Less than 95 mg (also per 100 g*)
Sodium: One of four sodium limits applies depending on the particular food category: up to 140 mg, 240 mg or 360 mg per label serving*, or 480 mg per label serving and per RACC*. (See Sodium Limits by Category for details.)
Beneficial Nutrients (naturally occurring or historically fortified): 10% or more of the Daily Value of 1 of 6 nutrients (vitamin A, vitamin C, iron, calcium, protein or dietary fiber)
The latest cuts to make the grade are all considered “extra lean beef options”:
Extra Lean Ground Beef (96% Lean, 4% Fat)
Bottom Round Steak (USDA Select Grade)
Sirloin Tip Steak (USDA Select Grade)
Boneless Top Sirloin Petite Roast (USDA Select Grade)
Top Sirloin Strips (USDA Select Grade)
Top Sirloin Filet (USDA Select Grade)
Top Sirloin Kabob (USDA Select Grade)
Center Cut Boneless Top Sirloin Steak (USDA Select Grade)
What does this mean for you?
Creating a dining experience that encourages your customers to perceive your food as healthy is vital to your success in today’s market. –Alan Philips, QSR Magazine
Retail studies show the use of AHA Heart Check labels on qualifying meats and poultry items boost sales on average by 5%. Restaurants and hospitality who embrace health marketing strategies may want to add this to their mix.
Meat as a legitimate healthy dining option has enjoyed a boost in recent years too. Food Nazis were more than rattled last year when The Big Fat Surprise: Why Butter, Meat and Cheese Belong in a Healthy Diet hit the New York Times Bestseller List and won numerous awards.
According to the NRA, over 70% of adults are trying to eat healthier at restaurants more now than ever before. Incorporating heart-check appropriate notes on the menu could be a great way to enhance your healthy marketing options further.