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Help Canadians make healthier food choices at home

The Canadian government and the country’s retail industry launched here Monday a national Eat Well campaign to help Canadians make healthier food choices at home, when they shop for groceries or dine out, and how planning meals can help.

"Investing in the health of children and youth pays off in the long run for everyone, and the best way for us to do that is by continuing to provide leadership on nutrition and physical activity," federal health Minister Leona Aglukkaq said in a news release.

The Retail Council of Canada, which represents more than 43,000 department, specialty, discount and independent stores, as well as online merchants, are promoting the healthy-eating campaign on the Internet, through flyers and magazines, and in store.

Eat Well focuses on such topics as how to read the Nutrition Facts table that appears on the labeling of almost all pre- packaged food in Canada, and which provides information on calories and 13 core nutrients, such as protein, calcium, iron and vitamins A and C contained in a specific serving size.

The campaign also promotes the use of Canada’s Food Guide and guides Canadians on how to reduce their sodium intake.

Canada’s Food Guide, whose origin dates back to 1942 when it was called the Official Food Rules, provides ideas and tips on daily servings of vegetables and fruit, grain products, milk and alternatives (such as yogurts and cheeses), and meat and alternatives (including fish, beans, lentils and tofu) based on a person’s age and gender.

With one in five Canadians over the age of 20 diagnosed with hypertension, and 30 percent of those cases related to consuming too much sodium, Ottawa is also urging Canadians to eat less salt.

One quick way they can do that is by consulting the percent daily value (% DV) in the Nutrition Facts table, which outlines whether a specific amount of food has little or a lot of nutrient. With sodium, 15% DV is considered a lot.

Eat Well also helps Canadians make wise choices at the grocery store (avoid foods that list fat, sugar and sodium near the beginning of the ingredient list) as well as at restaurants, cafeterias and fast-food outlets, where they are encouraged to try something different, such as Chinese or other ethnic cuisines that offer healthy options.

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