A balanced diet is made up of a variety of foods and it also includes fat. A certain amount of fat is needed to help your body absorb essential vitamins and maintain a healthy immune system.  Include a small amount - 30 to 45 mL (two to three tablespoons) - of unsaturated fat each day to get the fat you need. This amount includes oil used for cooking, salad dressings, margarine and mayonnaise.

Unsaturated fats

  • Canola
  • Corn
  • Flaxseed
  • Olive
  • Peanut
  • Soybean
  • Sunflower

Try to avoid - or use sparingly - butter, hard margarine, lard and shortening. They are high in hydrogenated oil and saturated fat.

How to choose a healthier margarine

Some tub style margarines are hydrogenated to make the vegetable oil into a solid form.  Hydrogenation causes trans fatty acids to be formed.Trans fatty acids act like saturated fats - they increase your blood cholesterol levels.
The best choices for margarines are soft tub margarines that state non-hydrogenated on the label.  Look at the list of ingredients.  The first ingredient should be listed as liquid oil and not hydrogenated oil.

Vegetables and Fruits

Canada's Food Guide recommends a diet with lots of vegetables and fruits - four to six servings for children;  seven to 10 for teens; and seven for adults. Shop for vegetables and fruits that are in season. Include a variety of them in your meals and for snacks.

Canada's Food Guide recommends the following:

  • Eat at least one dark green and one orange vegetable each day.

Choose dark green vegetables such as broccoli, romaine lettuce, and spinach. Choose orange vegetables such as carrots, sweet potatoes, and winter squash.

  • Choose vegetables and fruit prepared with little or no added fat, sugar or salt.

Enjoy vegetables steamed, baked or stir-fried instead of deep fried.

  • Have vegetables and fruit more often than juice.

Grain Products

Grain products are a source of fibre and are low in fat. Look for products with less than three grams of fat and more than two grams of fibre per serving.

Breads and baked goodies

  • Stoneground, whole wheat, rye and flax bread
  • Multigrain breads, bagels
  • Whole wheat English muffin
  • Whole wheat pita bread and soft tortillas
  • Multigrain bread sticks
  • Angel food cake


  • Hot cereals such as rolled oats and oatbran
  • Instant oatmeal*
  • High fibre cold cereals like shredded wheat, toasted oat ring cereal, low fat muesli,  and bran cereals. Llook for no-name or store brand products to save money.


  • Apple, date or fig newtons
  • Ginger snaps
  • Graham or chocolate wafers


  • Unsalted soda crackers
  • Melba toast
  • Crisp bread
  • Rusks
  • Rice crackers
  • Potato crisps
  • Popcorn cakes
  • Matzo crackers

Rice, pasta and more

  • Converted, brown, basmati or wild rice
  • Pasta – try the high fibre whole wheat varieties
  • Barley, bulgur, wheat germ, bran, oat bran, quinoa and multigrain couscous
  • Flax seed and ground flax

Eat at least two servings of fish each week

Use leftover roasted meat, fish and poultry in sandwiches instead of high fat deli meats

High fat or sugar foods: Limit your choices of high fat and high sugar foods.

Snack Foods

  • Popcorn – air popped or microwave light *
  • Baked potato chips
  • Pretzels
  • Rice cakes

Milk and alternatives

  • Milk – skim or 1% milk fat (MF)


  • cottage cheese – 1% MF fat or less
  • block cheese – 20% MF or less


  • Yogurts – 1% MF fat or less
  • Frozen yogurt, sherbet, ice milk or light ice cream **
  • Pudding made with 1% or skim milk

Meat andother protein

Canada's Food Guide recommends 75 grams or about the size of a deck of cards.

  • Lean or extra lean ground beef
  • Lean ground turkey or chicken meat
  • Lean  cuts of beef or pork e.g. round or loin
  • Turkey or chicken breast
  • Fresh or frozen fish (not battered or breaded)
  • Canned fish packed in water
  • Tofu textured soy protein found in meat substitutes
  • Soy products


  • Eggs (no more than two egg yolks per week)
  • Commercial egg substitutes

Beans and Nuts

  • Dried or canned beans (remember to drain and rinse canned beans), split peas, lentils and soybeans.
  • Unsalted nuts and seeds.  Small amounts of plain nuts are healthy additions to your eating plan. Nuts are cholesterol-free but high in total fat.
  • Old fashioned or natural peanut butter or other nut butters like almond.


  • Jello®**  
  • Popsicles®  **
  • Jam, jelly **

*  Food choices are high in salt - use in moderation
**Food choices may be high in sugar and calories - use in moderation

Adapted from HealthLink Alberta

More Information:

Canada's Food Guide

Dietitians of Canada