Nutrition :: Eat less harmful fat, more vegetables, a healthy diet

A preliminary version of the rules for healthful eating flatly tells to cut consumption of saturated fat, trans fat and cholesterol. The draft guidelines also warn 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.

Two-thirds of U.S. adults are overweight and childhood obesity is ballooning. Poor diet and physical inactivity, blamed for 400,000 deaths a year, may soon overtake smoking as the No. 1 cause of preventable death.

Overeating “is a big problem right now,” said panelist Penny Kris-Etherton, a nutrition professor at Pennsylvania State University.

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.

“I don’t like targeting a single item,” said Theresa Nicklas of the Baylor College of Medicine. Joanne Lupton of Texas A&M University said research found no clear result.

While advising Americans to eat less saturated fat, trans fat and cholesterol, 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.

But 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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