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Proposed US Dietary Guidelines: Eat a "plant-based diet"

webmd.com | Denise Mann | 06/16/10

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By encouraging Americans to slash their salt intake, eat a plant-based diet, and increase physical activity, the newly proposed 2010 Dietary Guidelines take aim at the obesity epidemic.

As it stands, two-thirds of Americans are overweight or obese, and obesity is "the single greatest threat to public health in this century," according to the report, which was developed by a 13-member board of scientists and nutritionists and is open to a one-month public comment period. 

The dietary guidelines are updated every five years and issued by the Department of Agriculture and the Department of Health and Human Services. The final report is slated to be released later this year.

Specifically, the newly proposed guidelines suggest reducing sodium intake from 2,300 milligrams to 1,500 milligrams per day and stress a vegetarian-style diet rich in vegetables, cooked dry beans and peas, fruits, whole grains, nuts, and seeds with only moderate amounts of lean meats, poultry, and eggs.

The guidelines also call for cutting back on sugary sodas and beverages and eating less saturated fat. As to what Americans should eat more of, the guidelines suggest seafood and low-fat dairy products.

Also recommended is physical activity. The guidelines recommend at least 2 and 1/2 hours of moderate-intensity physical activity or 1 and 1/4 hours of a vigorous-intensity activity each week for adults. An hour or more of moderate-intensity to vigorous physical activity each day is optimal for children and teens.

The guidelines also encourage enhanced nutrition education, efforts to motivate families to cook more healthfully, and improved access to fresh fruits and vegetables.

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