Summary of Guiding Principles and Recommendations

Based on the available evidence, Health Canada has translated the science on food and health into evidence-informed Guiding Principles and Recommendations for application in the Canadian context (Table 1).

The Guiding Principles and Recommendations provide a foundation for healthy eating that promotes health and reduces the risk of nutrition-related chronic disease. Health Canada recognizes that Canadians may occasionally have foods and beverages outside these recommendations; less healthy choices high in sodium, sugars, or saturated fat will be consumed at times. What matters most is what people eat on a regular basis.

Individuals with special dietary requirements may need additional guidance from a health care professional.

Table 1: Proposed Guiding Principles, Recommendations and Considerations

Guiding Principles and Recommendations

Guiding Principle 1: A variety of nutritious foods and beverages are the foundation for healthy eating.

Health Canada recommends:

  • Regular intake of vegetables, fruit, whole grains and protein-rich foods, especially plant-based sources of protein
  • Inclusion of foods that contain mostly unsaturated fat, instead of foods that contain mostly saturated fat
  • Regular intake of water

Guiding Principle 2: Processed or prepared foods and beverages high in sodium, sugars or saturated fat undermine healthy eating.

Health Canada recommends:

  • Limited intake of processed or prepared foods high in sodium, sugars or saturated fat
  • Avoidance of  processed or prepared beverages high in sugars

Guiding Principle 3: Knowledge and skills are needed to navigate the complex food environment and support healthy eating. 

Health Canada recommends:

  • Selecting nutritious foods when shopping or eating out
  • Planning and preparing healthy meals and snacks
  • Sharing meals with family and friends whenever possible

  • Determinants of health
  • Cultural diversity
  • Environment