At a time when red and processed meats are struggling with a bit of an image problem, Mississauga, Ont.-based Maple Leaf Foods Inc. is working hard to promote the benefits of meat and other proteins through a new series of short videos, the first of which features Olympic gold medalist Hayley Wickenheiser.
Maple Leaf has launched its video series called “Protein Builds” as a way to inform Canadians about the important role of high-quality protein, including meat and alternative proteins, in maintaining good overall health.
The first two videos in the series, featuring Canadian hockey star Wickenheiser and Mary Anne Binnie, a nutritionist and manager of nutrition and food industry relations at the Canadian Pork Council, are already available online.
As host of November’s World Female Hockey Festival (Wickfest) in Calgary, the largest all-girl hockey tournament in the world with more than than 2,000 participants, Wickenheiser ensured that the importance of protein was discussed with the girls at the event. The message conveyed was that young girls and athletes have unique nutrition needs, and building-block nutrients like high-quality protein, found in red meat, poultry, eggs and dairy, can help muscles recover and repair after high-energy activities like hockey.
“On average teenage girls are under-consuming meat and alternatives. It is vital that everyone, and especially young girls, don’t skip on high-quality protein sources, which could put them at a very real risk of nutrient deficiencies,” explains Binnie. “In Canada protein only accounts for 14 per cent of the total calories girls eat. It is recommended that 10 to 30 per cent of their daily calories should come from protein.”
The video series also stresses the fact that high-quality proteins are nutrient-rich, offering many vital nutrients such as calcium, vitamin D, vitamin B12, iron and zinc.
“Studies suggest that we may need more protein than currently being recommended,” adds Dr. Rajavel Elango, Department of Pediatrics, University of British Columbia, in a Maple Leaf Foods press release. “High-quality protein such as lean meats and dairy products are an easy way to increase your protein intake, while alternatives such as lentils, legumes and nuts are also key sources. Protein is vital for active young girls to ensure adequate growth and development.”
(Photograph of Hayley Wickenheiser by Dave Holland)