National Health Nutrition Plan: more Omega-3 and less salt

The National Agency for Food, Environmental and Occupational Health and Safety (ANSES) has just presented the main results of the updating of the nutritional benchmarks of the National Health Nutrition Program (PNNS), which aims to improve the state of health of the population by acting on food.

ANSES has used scientific data from the past ten years to serve as a basis for developing new recommendations for the general public. The latest, dating from 2002, had the main watchword: at least five fruits and vegetables a day, limit salt consumption.

These new benchmarks aim to cover nutritional needs, by preventing the risks of chronic diseases linked to certain foods, while limiting exposure to chemical contaminants present in food (pesticides. Nearly a hundred experts took part in these jobs.

Numerous scientific studies have highlighted the role of nutritional factors (including physical activity) in the determinism of chronic diseases, diabetes, obesity, cancer, cardiovascular diseases, etc.

Less meat and even less charcuterie

This is not a surprise: it is recommended to eat less meat and drastically reduce deli meats. ANSES does not recommend more than 70 grams per day for meat (excluding poultry), i.e. 500 g/week, and 25 g/day for charcuterie. It is based on the report of the International Agency for Research on Cancer, the agency responsible for the fight against cancer of the WHO, which, based on 800 studies, classified processed meat, mainly charcuterie, in the category of “carcinogenic to humans”, while red meats (which include pork and veal) are considered “probably carcinogenic”.

The risk of chronic disease increases by 10% to 20% for each increase in daily intake of 100 grams of meat (excluding poultry) and even by 50% for an increase of 50 g/day in processed meats, including charcuterie. However, there are many large consumers of charcuterie in France. In addition, concerning fish, the agency advises to eat it twice a week including a fatty one.

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Sugary drink to avoid

If we know that a high consumption of sugar has harmful effects on health, “controlling the consumption of foods that carry added sugars, particularly with regard to drinks, appears crucial”, insists the agency. The WHO regularly warns of the need to reduce the consumption of simple and hidden sugars, in ketchup, prepared meals… and drinks. Nothing like water, insist nutritionists. Each additional glass of sugary drink (soda, fruit juice, nectar, etc.) per day is associated with weight gain of 200 grams per year, according to one of ANSES’s opinions.

Consuming one drink a day is associated with an increased risk of type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease by 20% compared to zero or exceptional consumption (about once a month). Previously categorized as fruit, industrial fruit juices now fall under sugar-sweetened beverages. Sugar consumption in France is too high: 33% of men exceed the recommended limit of 100 grams per day, excluding lactose.

Fiber, as much as you want

The French population does not consume enough fruit and especially not enough vegetables. We are far from the famous “five fruits and vegetables a day”, a message yet known to the general public. “The positive effects on health are proven: they provide fibre, vitamins and minerals, eating them “reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease with a convincing level of evidence”. It is crucial. ANSES recommends consuming a wider variety of vegetables and legumes (lentils or chickpeas, etc.) several times a week. This provides fiber, protein, and vitamins and minerals of interest, says the agency. They are too little present in the plate of the French (11 grams on average per inhabitant).

Fiber consumption is well below the recommendations, half of the 25 to 30 grams needed per day. ANSES also encourages the consumption of the least refined cereal products possible (flour, bread, rice, pasta, etc. semi-complete or complete), again due to the fiber intake, known to reduce the risk of certain diseases.

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More Omega 3 and less salt

As for fats, to cover the needs of omega 3 alpha-linolenic fatty acids, it is necessary to favor rapeseed and walnut oils, which are little known. On the other hand, no clear recommendation is emerging on dairy products. The current message of three products a day may not change. It is indeed difficult to study with regard to the diversity of foods. It is obviously preferable to limit the richest in salt. Most French people consume too much salt, 9 to 12 grams per day on average, twice the maximum recommended intake, says the WHO.

These PNNS nutritional benchmarks cannot be dissociated from the recommendations advocating physical activity and less sedentary lifestyle. Data from the literature showing the positive effects on health.


* The information and services available on in no way replace the consultation of competent health professionals. []

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