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AHA Heart-Check Certification Curiosity

“Today one out of three shoppers say they use the Heart-Check mark to find healthier options in the grocery store.” —American Heart Association

The American Heart Association (AHA) gives nutrition advice, but should you follow their advice and buy “Heart-Check” certified products?

AHA website says:

“Choose frozen, canned or dried produce when fresh isn’t available or practical. It can be just as nutritious as fresh, and will last longer. Choose canned fruit packed in water, light syrup or its own juice. With canned and frozen vegetables, choose the product with the lowest amount of sodium. Heavy syrups and sauces can add unwanted ingredients to your healthy fruits and veggies.

“Look for the Heart-Check mark to quickly and easily identify foods that can be part of an overall healthy eating plan. When it’s on the label, you know the product has been certified by the American Heart Association to meet specific science-based nutrition requirements. The Heart-Check is easy to spot and takes some of the guesswork out of comparing Nutrition Facts label information.

When buying canned fruits and vegetables, “Watch for added sugar: Look for fruit that’s canned in water, its own juice, or light syrup (drain and rinse).”

AHA Certifies Yams with 6 teaspoons of added GMO sugar per serving.

A serving of the AHA-recommended sugared up yams is 41 grams of carbohydrates, which turns into 10 teaspoons of sugar in your bloodstream. AHA should not certify canned vegetables with added sweeteners. The recommendation from the AHA should be, “Eat yams, fresh when possible and avoid canned yams with added sweeteners.”

AHA charges “program and related fees” for companies seeking the certification as a “Heart-Healthy Food.” It has little to do with actual nutrition.

  • 33 Avocado brands are Heart-Healthy Certified (meaning, companies paid 33 fees to have their avocado scientifically verified to be heart healthy). The AHA could approve all avocados, but then there’s no money in that.
  • Boar’s Head paid 21 fees to get their meats approved.
  • Cargill has 19 processed meat products (Private Reserve, Private Select, Prima Della, Charter Reserve).
  • Carl Buddig has a few products certified.

National Cattleman’s Beef Association has paid to have 91 products certified.

This company packages meat for WalMart, Harris Teeter, Aldi, Albertson’s, Laura’s Lean, Hy-Vee and other chains. AHA certifies National Cattleman’s 100% pure ground beef and top sirloin filet. Great Plains Beef paid for 21 products to be certified, including beef roasts, steak and brisket. Again, why charge 112 fees to these two companies when it would be easier to say, “eat beef.”

There are 283 products certified in the category “nuts or seeds”

The certified brands sell nuts, including pecans, walnuts, almonds and pistachios. Isn’t it ridiculous that the AHA charges fees to the companies instead of advising, “eat seeds and nuts.”

AHA certifies a highly processed, inflammatory soybean oil product, I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter

I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter managed to meet the requirements while using GMO soybean oil and flavors, by keeping the saturated fat in this health-damaging processed fat to 2 grams. The AHA wrongly advises, “Use soft margarine as a substitute for butter and choose soft margarines (liquid or tub varieties) over harder stick forms.”

Highly refined, processed Pepperidge Farm bread, gets the AHA check mark.

One slice of this bread turns into 6 teaspoons of sugar in your bloodstream. The ingredients include inflammatory soybean oil and preservatives — this is not heart healthy.

Most of the bread AHA recommends is coming under the Pepperidge Farm brand, with parent company, Campbell’s Soup, footing the bill for the fees.

Ingredients in Pepperidge Farm Honey Whole Wheat Bread:

  • Wheat flour
  • Honey
  • Wheat gluten
  • Yeast
  • Soybean oil (GMO)
  • Sugar (GMO)
  • Molasses
  • Salt
  • Butter
  • Preservatives
  • Whey

Ingredients in Promise Buttery:

  • Water
  • Soybean Oil (GMO)
  • Palm and Palm Kernel Oil
  • Salt
  • Lecithin (Soy)
  • Nonfat Yogurt Powder (Cultured Nonfat Milk)
  • Lactic Acid
  • Mono and Diglycerides <—(These are trans fats)
  • Potassium Sorbate (preservative)
  • Vitamin E Acetate
  • Natural and Artificial Flavor (MSG?)
  • Vitamin A Palmitate
  • Beta Carotene (Color)
  • Vitamin D3

Heart-Check Certified Recipes

Once the AHA certifies a product, you might see it appear as a Heart-Check Certified recipe on the AHA website for more promotion of the product, and probably additional fees. The recipes are categorized by the company providing the certified food, including:

  • National Cattlemen’s Beef Association
  • Chobani yogurt
  • Idaho Potato Commission
  • Smithfield Foods
  • California Walnuts

While walnuts are heart-healthy, here is a recipe that AHA recommends (just because they have the certified food in the recipe).

Recipe recommended by the AHA. Contains many ingredients that turn into sugar in your bloodstream (which inflames arteries): wheat, milk, applesauce, maple syrup, yogurt and apple cider.


There is no reason to buy products that are specifically Heart-Check certified, as we know that there is no correlation between the certification and health. Visit the AHA website to see the list of requirements.

How to eat healthy food.

Just eat real food, and skip the processed and packaged products. Read more here.