Northeastern University Dining Services Blog

Friday, October 6, 2017

National Seafood Month: Eat More Kinds Of Seafood More Often

Eating patterns that consist of multiple foods is important to an overall healthy diet. Seafood should be part of that healthy eating pattern. Seafood includes fish and shellfish. 

Based on the Dietary Guidelines it is recommended that the general population consume about 8 oz. of seafood (two 3 ½ oz. servings) each week. There are a number of health benefits that go along with eating seafood.  Seafood consumption increases ones intake of omega-3 fatty acids (EPA and DHA), which plays an important role in the anti-inflammatory process, reducing cardiovascular issues and has been associated with the reduction of cardiac deaths among those with existing Cardiovascular Disease. Seafood consumption has also been linked to boosting memory and reducing stress hormones- just another great reason to incorporate seafood into your healthy eating pattern! 

Something else to note about seafood is that it is a great source of high quality protein as well as many vitamins and minerals (including selenium and vitamin D).

Keep in mind that when choosing seafood- broiling or baking is a healthier option than deep-frying.

Note: mercury is a toxin that accumulates and for that reason, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recommends that pregnant and lactating women and young children avoid eating certain fish: swordfish, shark, tilefish and king mackerel. The EPA has no health warning to limit seafood consumption for any other population group.

References: 
  1. Dietary Guidelines 2015-2020.  Chapter 1: Key Elements of Healthy Eating Patterns.  https://health.gov/dietaryguidelines/2015/guidelines/chapter-1/a-closer-look-inside-healthy-eating-patterns/#callout-seafood Accessed October 5, 2017
  2. Fish Friend of Foe? https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/fish/ Accessed October 5, 2017

Sunday, October 1, 2017

Food as Medicine

Sunday, October 1, 2017 | 12:00 PM Posted by Northeastern Dining , , , , , , , No comments

It can be very tempting to follow the latest headlines claiming that certain foods will prevent disease, make you live longer or get you to your perfect pants size. Unfortunately the science of nutrition just doesn’t work that way. This October as pink pops up everywhere and talk focuses on prevention, treatment and finding a cure for breast cancer, what do we actually know about food and cancer?

Antioxidants: Fruits, vegetables and whole grains are credited with many health benefits, including the possibility of reducing cancer risk. One possible reason is the presence of antioxidants such as beta-carotene, lycopene, and vitamins A, C, and E. Antioxidants have the ability to protect us from damage by free-radicals that could lead to cancer. Our bodies don’t produce enough antioxidants on their own, so we need to get them from food. The results around antioxidant supplements, however, are not so good. In some cases, risk of cancer actually increased with supplements. Eating more whole plant foods is a relatively safe and delicious approach that may help to reduce cancer risk.

Tea: Tea is one of the most popular drinks around the world, and also one of the most studied. Tea contains catechins, a type of polyphenols, which are thought to be responsible for tea’s health benefits. Catechins, like the nutrients found in fruits and vegetables, have antioxidant activity. The evidence for tea’s role in cancer prevention isn’t strong enough to put it in the category of an official recommendation. The risks of drinking tea, especially green tea with its high catechin and low caffeine levels, however, are low. To keep the risks even lower, choose green or white teas more often and drink them between, instead of with, meals.

Garlic: Garlic belongs to the Allium family of plants, which also includes onions, chives, leeks, and scallions. Garlic contains a variety of bioactive compounds which may be beneficial to health. Like other foods, the evidence for garlic’s benefits in fighting cancer are inconclusive, but shows some potential. Eating garlic, as opposed to taking a supplement, has few risks beyond the telltale garlic breath.

While we may be able to improve our overall health and possibly help to reduce our risk of cancer with what we eat, it is important to remember that getting regular medical care with appropriate screening tests is still key.

RESOURCES: 1. Risk Factors – Diet. National Cancer Institute at the National Institutes of Health. Accessed July 28, 2017 at https://www.cancer.gov/about-cancer/causes-prevention/risk/diet.

Written by Jennifer M. Roberts, MS, RD.
October 2017

Friday, September 29, 2017

Superfood: Tomatoes

Friday, September 29, 2017 | 12:00 PM Posted by Northeastern Dining , , , , , , , , , , No comments

Fruit or vegetable? It is a fruit that works well as a vegetable!

Tomatoes are considered a type of superfood because they are rich in lots of great nutrients. They contain lycopenes, which is an antioxidant that offers a protective effect in the body.

Tomatoes are also a great source of vitamin A, E and C, which means tomatoes contain even more antioxidants than just lycopenes. Incorporate tomatoes and tomato products to help boost your immune system as well as promote skin and eye health!   

Good News: You should eat pizza!!  
Through research at the Harvard School of Public Health, it was determined that consumption of oil- and tomato-based products -- specifically tomato and pizza sauce – there was an association with cardiovascular benefits.  So, choosing 1-2 slices of pizza paired with a side salad can be a healthy meal option.

Friday, September 1, 2017

Expert Tips For Quick Dinners

Friday, September 1, 2017 | 12:00 PM Posted by Northeastern Dining , , , , , , , , , , , , No comments

When life gets busy, whipping up a delicious, well balanced dinner that the whole family will enjoy can seem like a big task. Follow these tips from some of our Registered Dietitian Nutritionists to make dinner time more manageable.

Plan and Prep Ahead:
Spreading the work of meal prep to less hectic days can be a big time saver. CulinArt’s Director of Wellness, Kimberly Hoban, does just that. “When it comes to throwing together a quick, healthy dinner, I suggest taking a few hours on the weekend or one weeknight to prep and cook healthy ‘components.’ I like to roast a few types of veggies, cook some grains (barley and farro are my favorites) and prep one or two proteins like hardboiled eggs or tempeh. Then during the week, I can mix and match these pieces of a meal, add a dressing or avocado and have a complete healthy dinner in a snap.”

Smart Time Savers:
Weekdays don’t always lend themselves to spending a lot of time in the kitchen, but that doesn’t mean that the healthfulness of your meals has to suffer. Michelle Sadlowski, Eurest’s Eastern Division Wellness Director, keeps low-sodium microwavable bags of whole grains on hand that cook up in 90 seconds and are a perfect portion for two. She also makes a super-fast dinner by microwaving a large sweet potato and topping it with black beans, sautéed veggies, and a sprinkle of cheese. Jill Woodward, Eurest Central Division Wellness Director looks for vegetables that don’t require a lot of prep, like Delicata squash that has tender skin and does not require peeling.

Quick Sustainability Tips:
Being short on time doesn’t mean we forget about sustainability. Eurest’s Senior Director of Wellness and Sustainability, Suzanne Landry, uses the Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch® app when shopping to quickly identify seafood that’s fished or farmed in sustainable ways. Michelle Sadlowski cuts down on food waste by using up veggies she has on hand in a stir fry before they can go bad. She also freezes extra fresh herbs in ice cube trays with a little water to add flavor for dishes later.

RESOURCES: Kimberly Hoban, RDN, CDN, CPT, Director of Wellness, CulinArt Group; Michelle Sadlowski MS, RD, Eurest Eastern Division Wellness Director; Jill Woodward, MS, RD, CD, Eurest Central Division Wellness Director and Suzanne Landry, MS, RD, LDN, Eurest Senior Director of Wellness and Sustainability.

Written by Jennifer M. Roberts, MS, RD.
September 2017

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Does Processed = bad? Not Always

Tuesday, August 1, 2017 | 12:00 PM Posted by Northeastern Dining , , , , , , No comments

Processed food tends to be viewed in a negative light, but the bad press isn’t always deserved. While some processed foods contain items that we should be limiting for better health, some are actually very good choices.

What does processed mean?
According to recent survey, many of us have different views on what processed means. Processing is a huge category that includes everything from washing to canning. Basically anything done to a raw food before it gets to us is considered processing. Washing and bagging spinach leaves, drying lentils and roasting coffee beans are all forms of processing. With the exception of the very small number of us who live on farms that produce a variety of foods year round, we all need some processed foods.

When is processing good?
It isn’t always so easy to get enough fruits, vegetables and whole grains into our days. Choosing minimally processed foods in this category can help. Buying frozen vegetables in the winter can help when fresh is harder to find. Dried fruit is often easier to pack for a quick snack than fresh that may need peeling or chopping. Quick-cooking whole grains can make balanced weeknight dinners easier to fit into a busy night. Milling allows us to bake delicious breads with whole grain flour. So, while many of us could use more fresh foods in our day, that doesn’t mean we need to eliminate all processed foods.

How to Choose?
Which processed foods we choose makes a big difference in our nutrient balance. Some processed foods are high in sodium making them a less healthful choice than their fresh counterparts. For example, a cup of canned carrots can have over 400% of the sodium found in a cup of fresh carrots. When it comes to choosing processed foods, the nutrition facts panel can help. Sodium and sugar are two to pay attention to as they can be higher in processed foods. Some examples of processed foods that can make good additions to your day include peanut butter, dried or canned beans, whole grain crackers, hummus and yogurt.

RESOURCES:

  1. 2017 Food and Health Survey: “A Healthy Perspective: Understanding American Food Values” May 2017. http://www.foodinsight.org/2017-food-and-health-survey.
  2. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and U.S. Department of Agriculture. 2015 – 2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans. 8th Edition. December 2015. Available at http://health.gov/dietaryguidelines/2015/guidelines/.

Written by Jennifer M. Roberts, MS, RD.
August 2017

Saturday, July 1, 2017

Are You Sabotaging Your Sleep?

Saturday, July 1, 2017 | 12:00 PM Posted by Northeastern Dining , , , , , , , , , No comments

We all know how important getting a good night’s sleep is, but sometimes it isn’t so easy to do. It’s possible that you may be unknowingly sabotaging your sleep with what you are eating and drinking.

Foods that hurt sleep:
For all the reasons that we drink coffee in the morning, we should do our best to limit it at night or switch to decaf. Caffeine’s stimulant effects can make it hard to fall asleep. Don’t stop at coffee when looking for caffeine. With the increase in “energy” products, caffeine can be found in a variety of other foods and drinks including tea, soda, bars, chocolate, gum and other candies. It is best to avoid them within a few hours of bedtime. Heartburn and other types of indigestion can also disrupt sleep and tend to get worse when we lie down. Large meals and specific triggers, like spicy or high fat foods, can increase indigestion and make it hard to sleep.

Foods that help sleep:
You’ve probably heard that turkey makes you sleepy, but it is really true? Sadly, no. Even though turkey contains tryptophan, which in our bodies helps with relaxation, eating it won’t help us sleep. The sleepiness we sometimes feel after Thanksgiving dinner is more likely due to overeating – it takes a lot of energy to digest that big meal! What about a warm cup of milk? No real science behind this one either. What may help with sleep, however, is a relaxing bedtime routine. If enjoying a warm cup of milk or a cup of caffeine-free tea helps you to relax, then that could help with sleep, even if it is just the placebo effect.

Other tips for better sleep:
According to the National Center on Sleep Disorders Research, some of these other tips are worth trying. Stick to a sleep schedule—Go to bed and wake up at the same time every day. Avoid caffeine and nicotine. Don’t exercise too late in the day. Avoid alcoholic drinks before bed. Don’t take a nap after 3 p.m. Relax before bed—for example, take a hot bath. Create a good sleeping environment. Get rid of distractions such as noises, bright lights, an uncomfortable bed, or a TV or computer in the bedroom. And finally, see a doctor if you have continued trouble sleeping.

RESOURCES:
1. The National Center on Sleep Disorders Research, National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute of the National Institutes of Health. https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/about/org/ncsdr/

Written by Jennifer M. Roberts, MS, RD.
July 2017

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Calories On the Menu

Thursday, June 1, 2017 | 12:00 PM Posted by Northeastern Dining , , , , , , No comments

You may have noticed that restaurant menus have a new look. Along with price and description, you’ll now see calories listed on menus at restaurants, coffee shops, movie theaters and bakeries, among others.

Why put calories on menus?
Most of us eat about a third of our meals away from home. With that in mind, legislation was passed as part of the Affordable Care Act requiring calorie-posting on restaurant menus. The goal of the legislation was to make it easier for us to make informed choices about what and how much we eat while we are out.

Where you will and won’t see calories:
In general, we can expect to see calories on food and drinks that are served regularly at 20 or more locations under the same brand. This includes just about anywhere that serves food ready to eat, such as sports stadiums, coffee shops and restaurants. Chefs’ specials, seasonal dishes or items offered only for a limited time, however, will not be required to have calories listed. Independent restaurants with one or only a few locations and those that move from place to place (trains, planes and food trucks) will not be required to post calories for any of their menu items.

How to use calories on a menu:
Understanding how many calories we take in compared to how many we burn can be valuable in maintaining a healthy weight and an active lifestyle. For example, if your day will be very physically active, you will need more calories to keep your energy levels where you need them. On the other hand, if you are going to be sitting most of the day or are trying to lose weight, you will want to eat fewer calories. Comparing calorie levels for foods and drinks can help you make choices that most closely match your needs.

RESOURCES: 1. https://www.fda.gov/Food/GuidanceRegulation/GuidanceDocumentsRegulatoryInformation/LabelingNutrition/ucm515020.html

Written by Jennifer M. Roberts, MS, RD.
June 2017