Thursday, May 21, 2015

5 Facts About The Caribbean Food Groups You Should Know [updated]

6 Caribbean Food Groups (Image credit: The health-nut corner)
 The Number of Food Groups & Their Names
While, Canada has 4 food groups, the USA and UK both have 5 food groups, there are 6 official food groups used in the English speaking Caribbean. These are:
        ① Staples         Legumes & Nuts (Legumes)      Foods from animals    Fruits  
        ⑤ Vegetables   Fats and Oils (Fats and Substitutes)
 Please note, sugar and sweeteners are not an official food group due to their calorie dense nature and poor micro-nutrient profiles, but are included in many dietary guidelines used throughout the region. 

 The Staple Diversity 
Unlike the USA and Canada, starchy vegetables and starchy fruits such as corn, white potato (Russet), plantain and breadfruit are found in the same food group as bread, rice and pasta; the staples group. Reason being, when compared with other food groups, these items just like bread, rice and pasta are excellent sources of carbohydrates, fibre and most B-vitamins but are naturally poor sources of fat and protein. 
Learn more about staples in the video
 The Exclusivity of Plant-Protein 
There is an entire food group dedicated only to plant-based sources of protein. This is the legumes and nuts group. This group contains all beans, dried peas, nuts, seeds and non-dairy alternatives ( e.g. tofu, soy cheese, soy milk, almond milk and hemp milk).  This makes meal planning for strict vegetarians and meatless Monday a lot easier, since one does not have to think about where they will get their protein from.

In addition, judging from the size of the segment (see poster above), it is safe to say this group should be the second most important food group in the diet of people within this region. A 2002 food consumption survey performed in Guyana, revealed the consumption of legumes ranked higher than the consumption of items from the food from animals group (Ramsammy, L 2005)

❹ The  Restriction on Fats & Oils 
Like most food guides around the world, the Caribbean foods guide tells the general public, foods in the fats and oils groups should be consumed in small and controlled amounts. It is interesting to note, the sources of fats and oils are quite varied as it includes fatty fruits (avocados, coconut, coconut milk, ackee and olives), refined and unrefined oils, animal fats (streaky bacon,  cream cheese, pork/chicken fat) and others.

 The Meal Planning Tool
The 6 food groups aid in the planning of nutritionally balanced meals when the multi-mix principle is used. The Multi-Mix principle is a food combining method  whereby at least two complementary food groups are paired to make a  nutritious meal. This principle could be used to prepare weaning meals as a well as meals for older children and adults. The principle consist of 3 -mixes which are 2-Mix, 3-Mix and 4-Mix. Read More here.

With that said, now you know a little more about the 6 food groups used in the English Speaking Caribbean.

Thank you for reading! 
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