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Meat and Alternatives

Meat and alternatives are major sources of protein and fat. They help ensure that the body functions properly and the proteins that they contain play a role in cellular regeneration and tissue repair. Moreover, they provide B vitamins and minerals, such as iron, zinc, and magnesium.

Getting the Most Out of the Recommendations in Canada's Food Guide

  • Have meat alternatives such as legumes (beans and the like) and tofu often.
  • Eat at least 2 servings of fish each week.
  • Select lean meat and alternatives prepared with little or no added fat or salt.

Recommended Servings

Canada’s Food Guide recommends that adults have 2 to 3 servings of meat and alternatives every day, depending on age and sex.

A serving is:

  • 75 g (2½ oz.) or 125 mL (1/2 cup) of poultry, lean meat, or cooked fish or seafood (serving about the size of a deck of cards)
  • 175 mL (¾ cup) of cooked legumes
  • 150 g or 175 mL (¾ cup) of tofu
  • 2 eggs
  • 30 mL (2 tbs.) of peanut butter
  • 60 mL (1/4 cup) of shelled nuts or hulled seeds

Simple Tips for Eating more Meat and Alternatives

  • Have fish dishes regularly, because fish is a good source of protein. Fish also contains less fat than meat and the fat that it does contain is better for your heart.
  • You don’t really care for meat? Try legumes (such as peas, beans, and lentils)! They are very nutritious, high in fiber and protein, and low in fat. They are inexpensive and can be easily added to all kinds of recipes.
  • Canned legumes are easy to prepare and just as nutritious as the dry variety. Just rinse them and add them to salads, shepherd’s pie, spaghetti sauce, or couscous with vegetables. Be imaginative and experiment !
  • Is flatulence a problem when you eat legumes? Incorporate them into your diet gradually so that your digestive system has time to adjust. The flatulence and bloating will diminish as you eat them more frequently. Pour off the water that you use to soak legumes and start off using them in recipes that are low in sugar to prevent unwanted effects. No need to worry: the effects are only temporary.
  • Lean ham, turkey breast, pastrami, and homemade creton from lean meat are healthier choices than other types of deli meats that contain large amounts of fat and salt. Examples are cretons, pâté gras, pepperoni, salami, mock chicken, bologna, and smoked sausage, which should only be eaten in moderation.
  • Eat nuts and seeds that are rich in nutrients, such as protein, folic acid, vitamin E, calcium, and iron. Some contain “good fat,” which means unsaturated fats. Avoid eating excessive quantities because they are very high in fat and energy. Just a small handful is enough.