Canucks keen on berries, less on red meat: StatsCan
Published Wednesday, May 27, 2009 2:49PM EDT
Canadians are consuming more berries, poultry and wine, but less red meat and soft drinks, Statistics Canada reported Wednesday, which means they are also consuming fewer calories.
According to the agency's food statistics report, the Canadian diet in 2008 also included more tea, yogurt, breakfast cereal, processed fruits and asparagus.
This means that Canadians are consuming 2,382 calories per day, which is down 131 calories from the peak recorded in 2001 and "reflects lower amounts of oils, red meat and soft drinks in the diet," the report said.
The findings include:
- Overall levels of fresh fruit consumption remained steady in 2008 compared to 2007, but fresh blueberry consumption increased 14 per cent and fresh cranberry consumption increased 34 per cent.
- Canadians ate 79.5 kg of fresh and processed vegetables per person in 2008, a drop of 4.0 kg from 2005. However, Canadians are eating twice as much asparagus as 20 years ago, as well as three times as many sweet potatoes and 60 per cent more eggplant.
- Canadians consumed about 5.4 litres of yogurt in 2008, more than twice as much as a decade ago.
- In the last decade, annual Canadian consumption of poultry has increased by 1.9 kg, while read meat has declined by 3.7 kg.
- Total fish in the diet remained stable at 6.6 kg per person.
- Canadians consumed 4.1 kg of breakfast cereal in 2008, a record high.
- Ice cream consumption dropped by 12 per cent (0.7 litres) between 2007 and 2008, to 4.8 litres.
- Those aged 15 and older drank 15.0 litres of wine last year, five times more than in the early 1960s.
- Consumption of soft drinks fell from 76.4 litres in 2007 to 73.2 litres in 2008.
- Refined sugar consumption jumped by 1.0 kg in 2008 to 23.1 kg.
While eating habits changed across the food spectrum, it appears that the berry industry made the biggest year-over-year gains in the Canadian market, despite the fact that Canadian farms produced fewer berries in 2008.
"While the Canadian production of (raspberries, loganberries, mulberries and blackberries) decreased slightly compared to the previous year, the increase of intake in the diet can be attributed to an almost 100 per cent increase in imports," the report said.
And Canadians did not discriminate against processed (dried or frozen) blueberries, which they consumed 16 per cent more of in 2008.
Registered dietitian and Canada AM nutrition consultant Leslie Beck said the findings reflect the fact that Canadians are hearing more about how eating certain foods may increase or decrease the risk of disease.
High red meat intake has been linked to diseases such as colon cancer, Beck said, which may explain why Canadians are eating less of it.
And berries are getting a lot of press as a so-called "super-fruit," not only because they have high fibre and vitamin C content, but because they are also packed with antioxidants.
"Whether its cranberries for reducing the risk of urinary tract infections in women or the natural chemicals in blueberries that help keep our brain cells healthy as we age, there's a lot of research going on there," Beck told CTV.ca Wednesday in a telephone interview.
Beck also credits food manufacturers for making healthier products easier for Canadians to incorporate into their busy lifestyles, such as frozen fruits that can be added to smoothies.
And the spike in yogurt consumption, for example, likely reflects the fact that many are being infused with probiotics, so-called "good" bacteria that aid digestion, something that Canadians have been hearing more about in recent years.
According to Beck, it's too early to say if the findings mean that the health of Canadians is going to improve dramatically in the near future, unless they are combining exercise with healthier eating habits.
"Once we tackle the obesity issue, I think that we'll make an impact on rates of diabetes and high blood pressure, etcetera," Beck said. "So whether or not this report suggests that maybe we're going to be slimmer Canadians a decade from now, that's pretty tough to say."