Canada promotes plant-based foods in new dietary guidelines

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Health Canada has released all-new dietary guidelines, which actively encourage people to integrate more plant-based foods into their diet. 

The national food guide now provides a whole-new section entitled, ‘How to eat more protein foods that come from plants.’

“Plant-based protein foods can provide more fibre and less saturated fat than other types of protein foods. This can be beneficial for your heart health,” the guide states.

Legumes (including beans, chickpeas and lentils), tofu, hummus, nuts and seeds have all been identified as nutrient-rich sources of protein.

“You don’t need to eat large amounts of protein foods to meet your nutritional needs,” the guide adds.

Health Canada has reinforced that plant-based foods can have a ‘positive effect on health’, including a lowered risk of cancer, heart disease and type 2 diabetes. 

“Many of the well-studied healthy eating patterns include mostly plant-based foods,” the guide states.

The new food guide also prompts Canadians to plan at least ‘a couple of meatless meals‘ each week, and encourages them to cook at home more regularly.

In another notable change, Health Canada has removed dairy from its food guide almost completely – in stark contrast with previous versions. 

Since the guide was first published in 1942, Canadians have been encouraged to consume three to four servings of dairy every day (including milk, cheese and yogurt).

Previous guides also included a ‘food group’ consisting almost entirely of dairy products.

In contrast, the 2019 guide has done away with this dairy-based food group altogether – and merely lists lower-fat milk (or some low-fat dairy) as a possible protein source.

Cheese (and products containing a lot of cheese) have instead been added to a list of foods to restrict, due to their high saturated fat content.

The guide additionally places processed and fatty meats, ice cream, cream and butter into this category of products to limit or avoid.

Overall, arbitrary ‘food groups’ have been replaced with a plate illustration – depicting the importance of incorporating vegetables, fruits, protein and whole grains into every meal.

Health Canada has also advised people to avoid processed foods that are more likely to be high in saturated fat, refined sugars, and added sodium.

Processed foods such as flavoured milks, chocolates, sausages and deli meats all made this list of products to restrict.

“Our food environment is changing. Highly processed foods are readily available and people are eating more of them…

Eating too much sodium, sugars or saturated fat can increase your risk of chronic disease,” the guide states.

Canadians are also reminded to ‘be aware‘ of food marketing and how this influences their everyday dietary choices.

Are you pleased to see Health Canada promoting the benefits of a plant-based diet? Should Australian health authorities follow suit?

 

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