by Danielle Levesque—Registered dietitian
"Eat the recommended portions of the 4 food groups." "Eat fresh, eat a variety of foods".
Do these healthcare professional's recommendations echo in your ears? The might, but with good reasons.
Fruits and vegetables give you the vitamins, minerals, fiber and antioxidants that protect the cells of your body. Choose the most colorful (dark green or orange): they contain more nutrients.
Dairy products: cow's milk, yogurt, cheese and soy milk enriched with calcium help maintain the health of bones and teeth.
Grains: bread, cereals, pasta, rice and couscous are fat free and are excellent sources of energy. They constitute the basis of the Mediterranean diet, as well as that of the centenarians of Okinawa(1).
Consuming protein from meat, fish, chicken, legumes, tofu and eggs, combined with exercise helps to maintain your muscle mass. Fats of good quality (nuts, flax seeds, chia seeds, avocado, olive oil and canola oil) consumed in reasonable quantities contribute to the health of your heart.
Danielle is a nutritionist and dietitian and is a member of l’Ordre des diététistes du Québec
She is also a member of the Diabète Québec’s scientific committee and was a long-time member of the editorial board of the revue Diabète Québec : Plein Soleil
Avoid ultra-processed foods
Quickly prepared, quickly consumed, ultra-processed foods are on the rise in Quebec. Public health researchers at the Université de Montréal confirm this in a recently published study2. In 2004, 47% of the calories consumed daily by Quebecers came from ultra-processed foods. Rich in sodium and trans fats, they include: frozen meals, soft drinks, sausages, cooked meats, biscuits, canned soups, baked goods and all foods purchased in fast food restaurants. The list is long!
Most of the nutrients, micronutrients (iron, vitamins) and macronutrients (proteins, fibers) are wholly or largely destroyed during the process of transformation. To add color, texture, flavor and an appetizing aroma to an ultra-processed food (and ensure its preservation), it is necessary to resort to additives that have nothing to do with the natural ingredients used in preparing dishes cooked at home or a restaurant.
Check labels, and watch out for salt!
More than 80% of the salt is consumed when dining out. And salt is the enemy of the heart and the arteries. Avoid foods containing more than 400 mg of sodium per serving and chose those with fewer than 140 mg (3). Read the labels. Choose foods containing 5 ingredients or less and avoid any unpronounceable ingredients! There is a direct link between health, chronic diseases (hypertension, heart disease, type 2 diabetes) and ultra-processed foods(4). Be vigilant.
The golden rule: cooking as much as possible
By cooking with fresh (or little processed) foods you will control the quality of your diet. Cook in groups and share your meals. Eating is one of the great pleasures of life!
Meet me at the Nutrition Information Booth