Most of the major health issues affecting our country today can be tied to an unhealthy diet. Eating a diet that is rich in fruits, vegetables and whole grains can help lower your risk for some chronic conditions. It’s also important to avoid foods high in salt, sugar and saturated fat, as these can increase the risk of heart disease.
Putting that into practice isn’t always easy. There are a lot of terms on food labels and in food advertising that can make it seem like a food is healthier than it is. For example, if the first ingredient in your bread isn’t whole grain flour, it’s not as “whole grain” as you might think. “Low sugar,” “low fat,” “lite” and “light” actually have specific definitions manufacturers have to meet, but most people don’t know what they are. And those terms might not actually equal healthier.
To add to the confusion, there’s a disconnect between recommendations from trusted sources of information. The internet has given us easy access to dietary recommendations from governments and health agencies all over the world, but they don’t always align. The Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends no more than 12 teaspoons of sugar per day for adults,1 but the American Heart Association recommends about half that amount for adult women.2 American guidelines align with Canada’s in many ways. For example, making about half your plate fruits and vegetables. However, they differ as well. Canada recommends a more plant-based approach to eating and doesn’t recommend that adults drink milk.