Northeastern University Dining Services Blog

Friday, September 13, 2019

FYUL: Heart Health

FYUL is a program focused on making it easy for you to find foods that are embedded with health benefits also known as functional foods that are important to your personal lifestyle!

Heart Health: Foods that are packed with Fiber and Heart Healthy Fats

Choosing foods that will benefit your heart is always a good idea! If you choose foods that are in their whole form such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, fish, nuts, beans, lean meats then you are taking the right steps. If you are not there yet it is not too late to make some small changes to make a positive impact. Keep in mind that while we can make choices about the foods we eat- we cannot choose or change our family health history or age, but that does not mean that you should not implement heart-healthy food choices!

Here are some tips to get you started!

  • Choose nutrient-dense foods that are also a good source of fiber and antioxidants that have a protective effect on cells in the body. Nutrient-dense foods will also provide many other vitamins and minerals. Including whole grains (cereals, rice, pasta, and oatmeal), fruits, and vegetables at meals and snacks will help accomplish this.
  • Choose foods that are rich in omega-3 fatty acids because that will help with reducing inflammation in the body. Consider incorporating foods such as wild salmon, tuna, flaxseeds/flax meal, and walnuts to have this benefit.
  • Choose oils that are high in mono- and poly-unsaturated fats as these are good for your heart. You can find the best sources among olive oil, nuts, avocados, sunflower and safflower oils. Limit your intake of trans fats and saturated fats that are found in many processed foods (crackers, cookies and other packaged baked goods). Also keep in mind that although coconut oil may taste good and add flavor, use this tropical oil in moderation as it is high in saturated fat. Saturated fats have been found to raise blood cholesterol levels, therefore this can be harmful over time. 
Making heart-healthy choices is important at any age. It does not mean you have to remove foods you love, it simply means adding nutrient-rich foods into your day! The good news is that it includes treats such as dark chocolate, which is rich in antioxidants!

Here is a recipe that is a great way to start your day with heart healthy option. This is also a great snack option!

Overnight Oats
  • ½ cup Quaker Oats
  • ½ cup lowfat milk or a milk substitute
  • ½ cup Greek yogurt (plain or vanilla)
  • ¼ cup blueberries, raspberries or peaches
  • 1 TBSP honey
Add Quaker Oats to your container, pour in milk, and add in fruit and Greek yogurt. Top with honey before refrigerating

Sunday, September 1, 2019


Sunday, September 1, 2019 | 12:00 PM Posted by Northeastern Dining , , , , , , , No comments

September is Whole Grains Month and this year the Whole Grains Council is celebrating under the theme “Whole Grains: The World Tour.” Whole grains are an important part of some of the world’s healthiest diets. If you haven’t yet made half of your grains whole, now is a great time to start.

Whole grains have been tied to improved health in many studies and current recommendations suggest that we choose whole grains for at least half of the grains we eat. Whole grains are a part of the Mediterranean Diet, DASH diet and other healthy eating patterns across the world. Whole grains were also identified as part of a Planetary Health Diet in the recent EAT Lancet report. Whole grains could help us feed more people with less land through lower water requirements, improved soil fertility and reduced waste.

Sometimes whole grains are obvious, but other times it can be a little tricky to identify whether or not a food has whole grains. When shopping, looking for the Whole Grain Stamp can be a quick and easy way to identify whole grains. The stamp will also let you know how much whole grain is in the product. While all foods with the stamp have whole grains, not all whole grains will carry the stamp. Specific statements like “100% whole wheat” or “14g of whole grain” can also lead you to whole grain foods. Be cautious of vague use of the words “whole grain” like “made with whole grain” because you might only be getting a small amount of whole grains. The following words in the ingredient list also let you know there are whole grains present: whole grain [name of grain], whole wheat, whole [other grain], stoneground whole [grain], brown rice, oats, oatmeal (including old-fashioned oatmeal, instant oatmeal), wheatberries. Ingredients are listed in order, so the earlier in the list, the more the food contains.

Inspire others and get inspired by using and following #wholegrainsmonth on social media. If you tried a new whole grain recipe or dish and enjoyed it, post it. Looking for some menu inspiration for dinner? Search the hashtag for recipes and serving ideas.

  1. Whole Grains Council available at
  2. Summary Report of the EAT-Lancet Commission available at
Written by Jennifer M. Roberts, MS, RD

Thursday, August 1, 2019


Have a plant. That’s it. No numbers, no specific foods. Just have a plant. This simple message is the new campaign by the Produce for Better Health Foundation (PBH). Moving past prescriptive messages about how many servings per day, Have a Plant™ focuses on how eating fruits and vegetables can help us feel happier and healthier.

Eating more fruits and vegetables is thought to improve physical health, but there may be another reason to put some plants on your plate. Recent research suggests that eating more fruits and vegetables might make us happier and more satisfied with life. The DASH diet, which is full of fruits and vegetables, has also been linked to both physical and mental health benefits. With short- and long-term benefits and almost no downside, eating more fruits and vegetables is something we can all focus on.

Despite years of encouragement, only 1 in 10 of us are getting the recommended amounts of fruits and vegetables every day. PBH looked at both behavioral science and consumer research and determined a new approach was needed. It turns out we may be more motivated by the immediate feelings we get from eating well, than the longer-term health benefits. So now, instead of “5-a-day” or “more matters”, we have Have A Plant™ – Food Rooted in a Better Mood.

Have A Plant™ is a call to action and PBH wants us all to join in. The website has a new look and is full of recipes, tips, seasonal guides and more. A carefully selected team of experts answer questions and offer advice both on the site and through social media. To follow along or join in the conversation, follow #haveaplant.

  1. Have A Plant™. Produce for Better Health Foundation. Available at
Written by Jennifer M. Roberts, MS, RD

Monday, July 1, 2019


You have probably heard the saying that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. While it may not necessarily be more important than lunch or dinner, it is a meal that many of us tend to skip for a variety of reasons. A recent study suggests that skipping breakfast may do more harm than we previously thought. Skipping breakfast tends to leave us low on energy and extra hungry at lunch, but it may also increase our risk of dying from heart disease. Here are some tips to start your day off right with breakfast:

Breakfast is a perfect time to get in some whole grains. There are so many delicious options – oatmeal, whole grain muffins, and even whole grain pancakes – to choose from. Be cautious with portion size though. While whole grains are good, breakfast grains in general can get a little out of hand with their portion size. If it doesn’t fit in your hand, it might be a little too big.

Fruit gets a lot of attention at breakfast and it is a great choice, but don’t forget the veggies. Most of us could use more vegetables each day, so starting out with some at breakfast gets you on the right track. Vegetables add color, flavor and nutrients to omelets, scrambles and frittatas. Vegetables not typically eaten at breakfast are finding their way on to menus in the form of vegetable hash, smoothies and even breakfast salads and are all worth trying.

Coffee and tea are two of the most popular breakfast drinks, but they vary widely in how well they help us start our day. Be cautious of add ins that are high in sugar and calories that add up quickly and are easy to overdo in a drink. Breakfast is also a good time to start hydrating. With little to no water intake overnight, your body will thank you for adding a glass of water to your morning routine.

Reference:1. Shuang Rong, Linda G. Snetselaar, Guifeng Xu, Yangbo Sun, Buyun Liu, Robert B. Wallace, Wei Bao. Association of Skipping Breakfast With Cardiovascular and All-Cause Mortality. Journal of the American College of Cardiology Apr 2019, 73 (16) 2025-2032

Written by Jennifer M. Roberts, MS, RD
JULY 2019

Saturday, June 1, 2019


Saturday, June 1, 2019 | 12:00 PM Posted by Northeastern Dining , , , , , , , No comments

The news that eating well can help us live longer, healthier lives is not necessarily new. A recent study, however, helps to show just how important what we eat is. According to this study, poor diet is responsible for more deaths than any other risk factor across the world. Yes, even more than smoking. What if 1 in 5 deaths could be prevented by eating better? It might just be possible.

The results of the Global Burden of Disease study were published recently and looked to answer the question of which foods and nutrients have the biggest impact on our health. They looked at the impact of 15 different dietary risk factors across 195 countries. Each of these factors was evaluated for their impact on two measures, death and DALYs, which measure the loss of “healthy” years of life due to illness.

In 2017, 11 million deaths and 255 million DALYs were connected to dietary risk factors. Three factors (too much sodium, not enough whole grains and not enough fruit) accounted for 50% of deaths connected to diet. The researchers estimate that 1 in 5 deaths globally could be prevented with improvements in the way we eat.

In the past, the focus of improving eating habits has been on what to cut out or eat less of. Interestingly, this study finds that we may be better off focusing on which foods to eat more of. Of the top six factors, five were areas where the risk is in not getting enough of an important food or nutrient. To make sure you are supporting your health, focus on getting enough whole grains, fruit, nuts and seeds, vegetables and omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3 fatty acids are found in fish, nuts and seeds and plant oils such as flaxseed, soybean and canola. Getting too much sodium is also a top factor, so reading labels and limiting salty foods is a good strategy, too.

Health effects of dietary risks in 195 countries, 1990–2017: a systematic analysis for the Global Burden of Disease Study 2017.
GBD 2017 Diet Collaborators. Published Online April 3, 2019 S0140-6736(19)30041-8.

JUNE 2019

Wednesday, May 1, 2019


Wednesday, May 1, 2019 | 12:00 PM Posted by Northeastern Dining , , , , , , , No comments

Have you ever wondered why two friends can follow the same diet and have very different results? It turns out that our genes not only determine what color our hair and eyes are but may also direct how we respond to what we eat. This is where nutrigenomics comes in.

Nutrigenomics looks at what we eat in the context of our specific genetic make up to maximize health. We are now able to identify genetic variations that make us more or less likely to develop certain diseases, determine how we manage our weight and whether certain foods will help or harm our health. These variations, sometimes referred to as SNPs, help to explain why we each react differently to eating the same foods. Not all aspects of our health have been mapped to specific SNPs, but many have and understanding your profile could help you make decisions that will support your personal well-being.

Health care providers (RDNs, MDs) can help you get started. Most tests can be completed with a simple cheek swab that is sent into a testing lab. The results will tell you which variants you have and what you can do with that information. For example, if you have the variant that makes you a slow caffeine metabolizer, you should limit your caffeine consumption to protect your health. If you are a fast metabolizer, more caffeine might actually be better for you. Athletes can also maximize performance through personalized nutrition recommendations based on genetic variations.

Nutrigenomics is an exciting and developing area of personalized health. As new information emerges, it is important to remember that many factors impact our health. Understanding your individual profile can be one of many tools in your well-being journey.

  1. Deepika Laddu, Michelle Hauser. Addressing the Nutritional Phenotype Through Personalized Nutrition for Chronic Disease Prevention and Management. Progress in Cardiovascular Diseases, Volume 62, Issue 1, 2019, Pages 9-14.
  2. Guest NS, Horne J, Vanderhout SM, El-Sohemy A. Sport Nutrigenomics: Personalized Nutrition for Athletic Performance. Front Nutr. 2019;6:8. Published 2019 Feb 19. doi:10.3389/fnut.2019.00008
MAY 2019

Monday, April 1, 2019

Planetary Health Diet

The EAT-Lancet Commission brings together more than 30 world-leading scientists from across the globe to reach a scientific consensus that defines a healthy and sustainable diet. They recently released their first report that outlines what a healthy diet from a sustainable food system looks like. They call it the Planetary Health Diet. And it might look familiar.

The Planetary Health Diet is a flexitarian diet, that is largely plant-based with the option for modest amounts of animal foods. If you were to look at a plate model, like the one in the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, you would see half of the plate filled with fruits and vegetables. The remainder would have whole grains, nuts, seeds, fish, plant oils and limited amounts of dairy foods, animal proteins and added sugars.

According to the EAT-Lancet report, “Food is the single strongest lever to optimize human health and environmental sustainability on Earth.” Unfortunately, our current eating style, paired with the trends in our global population do not appear to be sustainable. Changes are needed in the way we produce and consume food to ensure healthy diets and sustainable food systems are available for the estimated global population of 10 billion people by 2050.

While it is called a diet, it is more of a framework. Two people could be following the Planetary Health Diet and eat very differently. The goal is to follow strategies that support the health of people and planet while incorporating personal, regional or cultural preferences. The first step for most people is to get more fruits and vegetables as they should make up half of the diet. The types you choose should reflect your preferences and what is available locally. Swapping some plant-based proteins like legumes, nuts or seeds for traditional animal proteins is another good step. While vegetarian and vegan diets will fit into the Planetary Health framework, it is not necessary to choose this way of eating. Simply increasing your plant-based foods and reducing animal foods can make a positive impact on your health and the health of the planet.

Read more about the EAT-Lancet Commission at

Reference: Summary Report of the EAT-Lancet Commission on Food, Planet, Health available at

Written by Jennifer M. Roberts, MS, RD and Julia Jordan.
APRIL 2019