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Eat plant-based foods more often, new Food Guide says

No more food groups in 2019 guide; milk, meat now in a protein category

Health Canada unveiled a new Canada Food Guide today that ends the era of the ‘four food groups,’ no longer refers to serving sizes nor specific amounts of food to eat daily, and replaces the former iconic rainbow with a dinner plate comprised mostly of plant-based foods.

This new guide is all about proportion rather portion of specific foods, said Health Canada officials Tuesday in Ottawa.

It takes a modern approach to communicating dietary guidance to meet the broad needs of all Canadians, federal Health Minister Ginette Petitpas Taylor said during a press conference.

“It puts more focus on what, when and how we eat,” she said. “It gives clear, concise advice that everyone can easily apply to their daily lives.”

The key takeaway message of the new guide, as widely expected, is to eat more plant-based foods, and less meat and dairy.

The remaining ‘three groups’ are now fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and proteins. The protein group will include both dairy and meat alongside foods such as tofu and pulses.

The online guide includes a series of ‘dietary guidelines’ with the key one being that “vegetables, fruit, whole grains, and protein foods should be consumed regularly,” and “among protein foods, consume plant-based more often.”

Protein foods include legumes, nuts, seeds, tofu, fortified soy beverage, fish, shellfish, eggs, poultry, lean red meat including wild game, lower fat milk, lower fat yogurts, lower fat kefir, and cheeses lower in fat and sodium.

The guidelines also say “(F)oods that contain mostly unsaturated fat should replace foods that contain mostly saturated fat,” and that “(W)ater should be the beverage of choice.”

Other sections advise not consuming processed or prepared foods, and to choose foods with unsaturated fat over those containing saturated fat.

The new guide also emphasizes cooking at home more often, the importance of food skills and knowing how to grocery shop and cook, and to use food labels to make informed choices. It warns Canadians not to be influenced by food marketing that undermines healthy eating.

The new guide is now fully accessible online and mobile friendly. Previous food guides were “static documents,” Petitpas Taylor said, noting the last revision in 2007 predates the widespread use of smartphones.

“Technology has transformed our world. And it has also transformed our food guide, “she said. “That’s why this edition was been updated not only with the latest in nutritional science, but also the latest technological changes as well.”

“This new food guide is really an extensive set of resources that every Canadian from coast to coast to coast has access to online.”

More information about the new Canada Food Guide can be found online.

— Lorraine Stevenson is a reporter for the Manitoba Co-operator at Carman, Man. Watch for more Canada Food Guide coverage in upcoming issues of the Co-operator.

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