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Grocery tours teach Boyle Heights residents about nutrition

August 29, 2012 |  3:16 pm

Cedonia Castillo, 81, said she knows salt and sugar are bad for her health. But the Boyle Heights resident, who has diabetes, heart disease and hypertension, said she doesn't know what other foods to avoid.

So when she heard that a dietitian from White Memorial Medical Center planned to lead health tours of the nearby grocery store Wednesday morning, Castillo decided to come. And she brought along several friends. 

"We have to pay attention to our health," said Castillo in Spanish. "We came to know what things we can eat and what things hurt us."

The tours took place at Food 4 Less, where nurses were also doing blood pressure checks and handing out information about heart disease. The tours were designed to educate Latinos, who have high rates of heart disease, about the dangers of a poor diet and a lack of exercise, said Belinda Gordillo, spokeswoman for the American Heart Assn. Gordillo said residents in low-income neighborhoods often believe that they can't afford to eat better

"They are not going to go to the vegetable aisle," she said. "They are going to go to McDonald's."

The dietitian, Ruth Pupo, told the first group of about a dozen women how to read nutrition labels and urged them to buy foods that are low in fat and high in fiber.

"We are trying to have better nutrition to prevent chronic illnesses," Pupo told them. "We want to learn how to make healthier food choices and what healthy means."

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-- Anna Gorman

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