Health Canada released the new Canada’s Food Guide on January 22, 2019—the first updated guide released in over a decade.1 Health experts have been chiming in.
We spoke with one of the experts who has taken a close look at the new Food Guide. Her name is Sue Mah, a Registered Dietitian based in Toronto. She’s the founder and President of Nutrition Solutions, and was named 2017 Dietitian of the Year by the Dietitians of Canada Business and Industry Network.2
Here are four of her key takeaways, including the starring role eggs are playing.
1. What (and how) to eat
The Food Guide is all about what you eat as part of a healthy diet. But for the first time ever, says Mah, the Food Guide also talks about how to eat well.
“It talks about the food experience,” she says.
“Eating food is about more than just what you eat. It’s about eating with family, eating with friends, enjoying your food and being mindful of what you’re eating.”
Canada’s Food Guide is filled with helpful advice like involving others in planning and preparing your meal, eating with friends and family, and noticing when you are hungry and when you are full.3 There’s much wisdom in this approach. For example, the Food Guide notes that by eating together, Canadians may explore new healthy foods they might not normally try.4
There’s no better food for sharing and exploring with than eggs. It’s often the first food parents use to teach their children how to cook—after all, there’s nothing simpler than cooking an egg on the stove. Eggs also offer incredible culinary versatility, allowing you to try new meals for breakfast, lunch and dinner. They also make for great appetizers!
2. The power of protein
You know that eggs are a source of high-quality protein, with 6.5 grams per egg. And protein plays a starring role in Canada’s Food Guide. The guide features a picture of a plate—half-covered in fruits and vegetables, with the remaining quarters divided between whole grains and protein foods. Lo and behold, you’ll see a scrumptious slice of a hard-boiled egg in the protein corner of that plate.
“Eggs are part of a healthy eating pattern and are recognized as a nutrition powerhouse,” says Mah. “Eggs are a high-quality, complete protein, containing all the essential amino acids our body needs.” We depend on these complete proteins: the kind that can build and repair our bodies.
3. More fruits and veggies
“Vegetables and fruits are good for you,” the new Food Guide says in big, bold letters.5 The guide asks us to make half of our plate vegetables and fruits, at every meal.6 This can be a difficult bar for anyone to reach. But Sue Mah points out that eggs can help us hit our targets.
“Eggs are so versatile,” says Mah, “and they’re economical. They can be paired with plants and grains so easily. So, for instance, if your kid doesn’t like broccoli, try making a broccoli quiche!” Mah herself enjoys bibimbap, a Korean hot rice bowl that can be packed with vegetables—always topped with a fried egg. You can also try this simple recipe where vegetables and eggs meet in equal measure: our grilled eggs in sweet peppers.
Eggs and vegetables were made to be served together. Research at Purdue University discovered that simply adding eggs to colourful salads increases the amount of nutrients your body absorbs.7 If you’re looking for inspiring egg recipes to help get more kick out of your vegetables, check out eggs.ca.
4. Eat whole foods
“We’re aiming to help Canadians move away from foods that use what I call the three S: sodium, sugars, and saturated fats,” says Mah. We know these three S’s have a negative impact on our health. Excess sodium, for instance, is tied to high blood pressure—a major risk factor for heart disease and stroke. And a diet high in saturated fat can lead to elevated cholesterol levels.
“By helping Canadians move away from highly processed foods and towards whole foods—as the Food Guide suggests—we are helping Canadians move away from these three S,” says Mah.
At the end of the day, Canada’s Food Guide is all about getting Canadians the nutrition they need. That’s why eggs play a starring role.
Eggs contain fourteen essential vitamins and nutrients. It’s a rich mix that includes choline, “which is so important for brain health: eggs are one of the few foods that contain choline,” says Mah.
They’re also one of the few foods that contain vitamin D, not to mention vitamin A, E, and B12, alongside iron, folate, and much more.
Even better, says Mah, they’re a great food at any age: “baby’s first food at 6 months could be a whole egg; the first meal a teen learns to cook for themselves could be an egg recipe; and when I visit my grandma, I love to make her scrambled eggs!”