New U.S. food guidelines say eat less bad fat, more veggies

June 3, 2004 in Healthy Eating, Nutrition Topics in the News

New U.S. food guidelines say eat less bad fat, more veggies

Americans should cut harmful fats, get more exercise and watch their weight, under a new set of U.S. government dietary guidelines being written by nutrition experts.

A preliminary version of the rules for healthful eating, unveiled last week, tells Americans to cut consumption of saturated fat, trans fat and cholesterol.

The draft guidelines also warn Americans not to eat more food than they need, to "be physically active every day," and to eat more fruits, vegetables and whole grains, to reduce the chance of chronic illnesses such as cancer and heart disease.

Panelists were unable to finish their work and set another meeting for August to wrap up suggestions for the new edition of the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, slated for release in January. First published in 1980, the guidelines are updated every five years to reflect new research on nutrition.

Often reduced to a handful of short reminders, such as "choose and prepare foods with less salt," or a pamphlet, the new edition would explicitly tell Americans to balance food intake with physical activity while eating a variety of foods. The current advice is "aim for a healthy weight."

A long-standing admonition to "moderate your intake of sugars" was dropped from the tentative guidelines. Panel members disagreed whether sugary drinks lead to obesity.

Experts acknowledged that the 2005 guidelines were unlikely to include any major changes.

The Center for Science in the Public Interest said America's bulging waistline was the result of eating too-large portions of food. They called for easy-to-follow advice on trimming calories from the diet.

While advising Americans to eat less saturated fat, trans fat and cholesterol, which are linked to clogged arteries, the advisory committee gave a green light to omega-3 fatty acids, found in fish. Omega-3 acids reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease, researchers say.

The panel noted there should be a general warning about mercury in fish. The government said in March that shark, swordfish, king mackerel and tilefish contain too much mercury to be eaten by pregnant women, nursing mothers, children and women who may become pregnant. Adults can eat up to 12 ounces (340 grams) a week of seafood lower in mercury.

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