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Jan 07, 2016 11:08 AM EST

Eat more fruits, veggies, new government guidelines say

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The federal government's new dietary guidelines, which were released on Thursday, recommended the intake of more fruits, vegetables and whole wheat and limiting the intake of sugar to 10 percent or less of calories, NBC reports.

The guidelines also suggested cutting salt and saturated fat.

The guidelines pointed out that most Americans do not eat a healthy diet, are overweight and are at risk to get heart disease and other illnesses as a result.

"Today, about half of all American adults-117 million people-have one or more preventable, chronic diseases, many of which are related to poor quality eating patterns and physical inactivity," Burwell and Agriculture Secretary Thomas Vilsack said in an introduction to the report.

"We want to make things easier and simpler for consumers," Burwell told NBC News. "One of the things we are steering people to is small changes."

Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Burwell said that the guidelines were based on sound science. The Congress directed HHS and the U.S. Department of Agriculture to stick to the recommendations.

Burwell said that there was enough evidence that too much sugar caused health diseases such as diabetes, heart disease and weight gain,

"There's a lot of added sugars in beverages," Burwell said.

NPR reported that the guidelines emphasized a "shift towards other protein foods" - including more nuts and seeds and about 8 ounces of seafood per week, based on a 2,000-calorie-a-day diet.

The guidelines also recommended that most people should get 2,300 mg of salt a day or less.

"More than three quarters of sodium in the American diet is estimated to come from processed and restaurant food, which gives consumers little choice when it comes to lowering daily intake," the CDC said.

"A key strategy for lowering population-wide sodium intake is gradually reducing sodium in the food supply."

"The things that you need to be careful about are sodium, that added sugar and saturated fat," Burwell said.

The report said that consumers, policymakers, the food industry and others need to work together to help Americans eat healthier diets.

The guidelines also recommend three diet types to choose from: a typical American diet, a Mediterranean-style diet and a vegetarian diet.

Today reported that Alice Lichtenstein, a professor of nutrition science and policy at Tufts University who was on the advisory committee that set the basis for the guidelines, said people should make changes in eating habits and patterns over time.

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