Dutch dietary guidelines for people with atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease
About 1.5 million people in the Netherlands have a chronic cardiovascular disease. In most cases this is due to atherosclerosis (also known as calcification of the arteries). The Health Council of the Netherlands has evaluated whether the Dutch dietary guidelines need to be adjusted for this group. Based on an evaluation of scientific research, the Council concluded that the guidelines also form an appropriate basis for healthy dietary patterns for people with atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease. This means that, for instance, replacing butter, hard margarines and cooking fats with soft variants or vegetable oils and eating at least 200 grammes of vegetables and 200 grammes of fruit every day is recommended for this group, too. Furthermore, according to the Council eating 1 to 2 portions of fish a week can lead to health benefits for this group. In the existing guidelines, 1 portion a week is recommended.
With regard to some of the evaluated dietary recommendations, the Health Council of the Netherlands did not identify sufficient additional scientific data specifically for people with atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease. In this case the same recommendations apply to this group as for the general population. Among other things, this includes limiting the consumption of table salt.
The Health Council of the Netherlands also evaluated certain fortified foods and supplements. Research shows that foods fortified with plant sterols and/or stanols – such as certain margarines or dairy products – can help to reduce the LDL cholesterol level, also for people who use cholesterol-lowering statins. This means that treating physicians and dieticians can consider the use of these products for people with atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease. In the opinion of the Council, supplements with a dosage of fish fatty acids comparable to roughly 2 portions of fish a week probably do not yield any health benefit. The Council cannot make any recommendation about higher dosages of fish fatty acids because the available research does not provide a clear picture.