A recently released study has found that nearly half of Canadians’ daily calorie intake comes from ultra-processed foods.

The research, which was conducted by the University of Montreal and commissioned by the Heart & Stroke Foundation of Canada, found that 48.3 percent of Canadians’ daily calories came from ultra-processed foods comprised of substances like sugar, fat, and salt with little nutritional benefit.

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Children aged nine to 13 were found to have even more of their calories coming from very processed foods, with 57 percent of their daily caloric intake coming from such foods.

“Children in Canada consume as much ultra-processed food as Americans, and we already have an idea that Americans are eating very badly,” the report’s author, University of Montreal assistant professor of health services Dr. Jean-Claude Moubarac, told Global News.

Ultra-processed foods include items like salty snacks, condiments and dressings, sweetened cereals, and ready-made or frozen foods.

“The problem is we focus on nutrient information, like fibre or protein. A lot of processed foods have added fibre and protein, and are marketed as healthy as a result. But when you look at the overall quality, it paints a different picture,” Moubarac said.

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Moubarac said that Canada needed to encourage more people to eat fresh and home cooked foods that were nutritionally intact.

“We need to make recommendations that people can use and understand easily, without overemphasizing nutrients or technical information. Cooking from scratch, choosing a restaurant that serves fresh meals versus fast food — these are simple recommendations,” said Moubarac. “But we need other policies in place so this can happen. If the environment doesn’t change, people will have a hard time changing.”

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Eat More Whole Foods At Home

Looking to eat less processed food? Try some of these recipes from the Food Monster App that use whole foods like fresh produce.

Earthy Beetroot Soup

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This Earthy Beetroot Soup uses beetroots, onion, celery and garlic to create a nutritious, comforting soup.

Mango Rice Bowl

Looking to add some sweetness to a traditional rice bowl? This Mango Rice Bowl combines the flavors of mango and avocado for a creamy, tropical taste!

Quinoa Stuffed Peppers and Plum Tomato Salsa

These Quinoa Stuffed Peppers and Plum Tomato Salsa have a complete protein in the form of quinoa, and have a tasty salsa made from plums and tomatoes.

Looking for more healthy cooking ideas?Download the Food Monster App, where you can find tons of recipes for meat alternatives and other healthy food. The app is available for both Android and iPhone, and can also be found on Instagram and Facebook. The app has more than 10,000 plant-based, allergy-friendly recipes, and subscribers gain access to new recipes every day.

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