Key Messages of the Canada Food Guide


Enjoy a Variety of Foods


A variety of foods can provide the energy and nutrients adults need daily.  Each food group is essential because it provides its own set of nutrients.  All four food groups together provide the complete nutrition recommended in the food guide.


1.  Grain Products - choose whole grain and enriched products more often.


Grain Products are a major source of carbohydrates, especially complex carbohydrates, and protein.  Whole grain foods are important sources of iron, zinc, the B vitamins, and dietary fibre.  Enriched products are also more nutritious than non-enriched foods because they contain added iron and B vitamins that were stripped away during the refining process.  It is recommended that we eat at least five servings of Grain Products group per day.


2.  Vegetables and Fruit - choose dark green and orange vegetables and fruit more often.


Vegetables and Fruit provide carbohydrates, vitamins, minerals, and water.  Dark green vegetables such as Brussels sprouts and spinach and orange vegetables and fruits like carrots, squash, cantaloupe and apricots are rich in vitamin A and folic acid.  Citrus fruits are good sources of vitamin C.  We should eat at least five servings of Vegetables and Fruit each day.


3.  Milk Products - choose lower-fat milk products more often.


Milk Products are major sources of protein and fat.  Using low-fat milk products is an easy way to lower total dietary fat, particularly saturated fat.  All fluid milk (skim, 1%, 2%, and whole/homo milk) contain almost equal amounts of vitamins A and D.  Not all milk products are created equal: yogurt and cheese don't contain any added vitamin D, cottage cheese is lower in calcium than other milk products, and sour cream, ice cream, coffee cream, and whipping cream are much higher in fat than skim or 1% milk.  Look for the % M.F. (milk fat) or % B.F. (butter fat) on the label to help you choose a lower fat product.  The recommended intake for Milk Products is 2 - 4 servings per day for adults.


4.  Meat and Alternatives - choose leaner meats, poultry, and fish, as well as dried peas, beans, and lentils more often.

Meat and Alternatives are also major sources of protein.  Legumes such as dried peas, bean, and lentils are good sources of dietary fibre and starch with very little fat.  Meats, poultry, and fish do not contain any fibre, but as foods of animal origin, are good sources of vitamin B12.  Lean red meat can be part of a healthy diet and contains twice as much iron as chicken or fish and is a good source of zinc. Cold-cuts such as salami and bologna are high in fat.  We should eat 2 - 3 servings of this group per day.


The “Other Foods” section on the back of the food guide consists of foods and beverages that don’t fit into any of the four food groups.  This category covers a wide range of dietary items that can contribute to the taste, texture, and visual appeal of many nutrient-rich choices.  They add to the enjoyment of food, and provide extra energy when needed.  This can be an important feature of food as we age due to changes in senses of smell and taste that can diminish interest in eating.  Nevertheless, the foods that are higher in fat and calories should still be used in moderation.  These "Other Foods" are:


·        foods that are mostly fats and oils (butter, margarine, vegetable oil)

·        foods that are mostly sugar (jam, honey, syrup, candies)

·        high fat and/or high salt snack foods (potato chips, pretzels)

·        beverages like water, tea, coffee, and soft drinks

·        herbs, spices, and condiments (basil, oregano, salt, pepper, pickles, mustard, ketchup)



Emphasize Cereals, Breads, Other Grain Products, Vegetables and Fruit


Diets that are rich in plant foods are also lower in fat and higher in fibre and starch.  In addition to providing many different vitamins and minerals, plant-based foods contain compounds known as phytochemicals that may offer added protection against chronic diseases like cancer and heart disease.


Choose Lower-Fat Dairy Products, Leaner Meats and Foods Prepared with Little or No Fat


High intakes of dietary fat have been linked to increased risk of chronic diseases.  Low-fat dairy products are rich sources of calcium and vitamin D, both of which are important in the fight against osteoporosis.  Lean meats are good sources of iron, zinc, and vitamin B12.


Achieve and Maintain a Healthy Body Weight By Enjoying Regular Physical Activity & Healthy Eating           


It has been estimated that 60% of older adults are physically inactive.  Sitting or lying for long periods of time is a serious health risk.  Inactivity can lead to declines in bone strength, heart and lung fitness, muscle strength, and flexibility.  In fact, inactivity is just as harmful to your health as smoking.  Doing a variety of activities that maintain endurance, flexibility, strength, and balance is an important strategy to achieve and maintain healthy weights, and overall good health in older adults.


No single food or nutrient causes obesity despite what the promoters of fad diets say.  The important issue is how much and how often certain foods are eaten.  It is best to establish healthy eating patterns emphasizing a variety of foods and not focusing on dieting and restriction.  In the case of older adults, recommendations for weight loss in those considered “overweight” must be made cautiously because they tend to have a lower caloric intake and are more vulnerable to nutrient deficiencies.  Moderation and consumption of nutrient-dense foods (those containing high amounts of nutrients per calorie) are key.


Limit Salt, Caffeine, and Alcohol


High salt intakes may play a role in hypertension (high blood pressure).  People can reduce their salt intake by:


·        limiting the use of salt at the table.

·        cutting back on the amount of salt used in cooking and baking (that includes seasoning salts, salted condiments, and salty sauces like soya).

·        limiting the use of frozen convenience foods, fast foods, and salty snack foods.

·        using salt-free herbs and spices to flavour foods.


Excessive alcohol consumption can have serious effects on health.  Alcohol is high in calories (7 kcal per gram) and robs your body of key nutrients such as vitamins A, C, and the B vitamins.  Alcohol intake should be no more than one drink per day or seven drinks per week.  Examples of one drink are:


·        1 bottle of beer (350 mL or 12 oz., 5% alcohol)

·        1 glass of wine (150 mL or 5 oz., 10-14% alcohol)

·        1 shot of spirits (50 mL or 1.5 oz., 40% alcohol)


The caffeine in coffee, tea, chocolate, and colas can make you nervous and irritable, decrease your appetite, cause stomach upsets, and interfere with sleep.  Caffeine is also found in headache remedies, allergy medications, and weight loss products.  Caffeine intake should be limited to a maximum of 450 mg, which is about 4 cups of coffee.  Caffeinated beverages should be avoided at least five hours before bedtime.


Too much caffeine and alcohol can displace beverages such as water, juice, and milk from the diets of older people.  Adequate fluid intake is essential in preventing dehydration and in maintaining healthy bowel function in older adults.







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