5 FAQS About The Meal Garden Health Meter: What You Need to Know To Understand the Ratings of Your Recipes & How To Healthify Them


1. What does the leaf mean?

            The Meal Garden Health Meter uses a precise algorithm to calculate the nutritional quality of a meal to give the different coloured ratings. A green leaf reflects certain foods, such as fruits and vegetables and they have a higher rating in our nutritional calculations because eating them has health benefits.


2. What makes a "red leaf" rating? 

            Red meat (beef, lamb, pork), saturated fats and trans fats make a red leaf rating. These foods have a low rating in our health meter because they have been shown to increase the risk of factors associated with cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure, Type 2 diabetes and some cancers. Saturated fats can be found naturally in red meats, lard, cream, butter, cheese and other dairy products made from whole or 2% milk. Trans fats are often found in deep fried foods, ready to eat frozen foods, stick margarine and shortening, commercially baked goods, convenience foods, toaster pastries, oriental noodles, and packaged sweet and salty snacks. 


3. What makes a "green leaf" rating? 

            Fruits and vegetables, pulses, legumes, nuts, seeds, dietary fibre and monounsaturated fats make a “green leaf” rating. These foods have been shown to decrease factors associated with cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure, Type 2 diabetes and some cancers. Some sources of dietary fibre are whole grains, wheat bran, apples, oranges, carrots, okra, eggplant, oats, barley and psyllium. Examples of foods high in monounsaturated fats are olive oil, canola oil, peanut oil, safflower oil, sesame oil, avocados, peanut butter and many nuts and seeds.

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4. How can I make a meal healthier to reach a better rating?     

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5. Can I make small changes to my recipe to make it a bit healthier,even if it doesn’t make it a Green Leaf?

            If there is something you wish to change about a recipe you can make a copy of it by clicking on “More Options” on the recipe page and selecting "Make a Copy". From that point, by selecting "Edit", you are able to edit a recipe and swap out ingredients for other alternatives and watch nutritionals change before your very eyes! For example, if you wanted to make a recipe dairy-free you would make a copy of it and you could then swap cow’s milk for your preferred alternative (soy milk, almond milk, cashew milk and so on) or swap cheese for goat’s cheese or plant-based versions (e.g. Daiya).


6. How can I use the health meter to plan my weekly meals?

            A healthy diet is about balance so don’t be too hard on yourself if one of your meals has a low health rating according to our health meter! If this is the case just be sure to schedule more “green leaf” meals at another point in the week. For instance, if you chose to indulge on the weekend that’s more than okay! Just be sure to schedule healthier meals from Monday to Friday to compensate.


Still have questions? You can return to our FAQ page here.



American Heart Association. (2017). Monounsaturated Fats. Retrieved from http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/HealthyLiving/HealthyEating/Nutrition/Monounsaturated-Fats_UCM_301460_Article.jsp#.WMwSXxIrIkg

American Heart Association. (2017). Saturated Fats. Retrieved from http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/HealthyLiving/HealthyEating/Nutrition/Saturated-Fats_UCM_301110_Article.jsp#.WMwLXhLyuNY

Eat Right Ontario. (2016). Focus on Fibre. Retrieved from https://www.eatrightontario.ca/en/Articles/Fibre/Focus-on-Fibre.aspx

Eat Right Ontario. (2016). Tackling Trans Fats. Retrieved from https://www.eatrightontario.ca/en/Articles/Fat/Tackling-Trans-Fat.aspx

Meal Garden. (2012). Health Meter Explained: A science-based meal rating.