One of the key issues in nutritional advice relating to good oral health is that the oral health message focuses on the intake of sugar-containing foods, whereas for heart health the focus tends to be on fat intake.
There is no evidence that nutrition advice promotes hearthealth at the expense of oral health or vice-versa. The Nutrition Guidelines for Heart Health (2007) published by the Irish Heart Foundation defines four population goals which, based on the strongest scientific evidence, would achieve the largest public heart health gains for the Irish population. These goals are:
1. A reduction in intake of saturated fat to less than 10% of dietary energy and a reduction in trans fat to less than 2% of energy
2. An increase in fruit and vegetable intake to be greater than 400 grams a day
3. A reduction in salt intake to be less than 6 grams a day
4. A reduction in body mass index (BMI) to less than 25 kg/m2, however the Irish Heart Foundation would as a first priority set the goal of halting the increase in levels of overweight and obesity in the Irish population.
Goals 2 and 4 are also of particular relevance to oral health. Increased fruit and vegetable intake will lower not only the risk of cardiovascular disease but also of periodontal disease, which in itself may pose a risk factor for cardiovascular disease; and nutritional advice aimed at halting rising levels of obesity will also promote reduced intake of sugar-containing foods and drinks in favour of a more balanced and healthy diet as defined by the Food Pyramid.