College Students Clamor for Healthier Options on Campus

cafeteria

It’s back to school time. Across the nation, college campuses are gearing up for the onslaught of students bringing healthier palates to class.

A recent survey conducted by Y-Pulse as a lead up to the National Association of College and University Food Services (NACUFS) National Conference in Indianapolis found that college students are requesting more:

  • Sustainable seafood options
  • Nutritious breakfast items available throughout the day
  • Plant based protein foods and meal plans
  • Healthy on-the-go convenience foods for students on the run

Registered Dietitian Elizabeth Shaw, the Dining, Market and Culinary Services Registered Dietitian at the University of California San Diego and the NACUFS Chair of Pacific Region Wellness Committee says that, “While gluten free was all the rage last year – and vegan the year before that – today’s students are more evolved and interested in produce from locally-sourced vendors and environmental concerns such as antibiotic use in particular foods.”

At UCSD, Elizabeth is heading up a “grain brain” station, encouraging students to expand beyond basic refined white grains and explore ancient grains like gamut and farro. Her team has also championed a “Taste Bud Approved” menu line that features both delicious and nutritious offerings. “Our goal is to show students how the food synergy in these foods not only keeps them full and focused, but also tastes amazing as well,” says Shaw. “Many times students are open to trying new flavors but are just accustomed to their typical food choices. We are trying to break that mold and expose their palates to the many diverse cultural cuisines available.”

If you’re heading to campus this fall, check to see what sort of healthy options your college cafeteria offers. Most colleges and universities employ a Registered Dietitian who helps spearhead healthy food campaigns. Beware of all-you-can-eat meal plans that may encourage mindless overeating. Focus on consuming fresh fruits and vegetables and keep added sugars and sweets to a minimum. Extra studying means more time sitting down, so don’t forget to counteract your intake with a healthy dose of exercise.

You can check out UCSD’s Healthy Habits page here. And for more information on innovative and healthful initiatives on today’s campus, check out the NACUFS Wellness Report available here.

 

Alcohol and Heart Health: What’s the Real Deal?

HeartHealth

A recent study published in the American Journal of Cardiology found that about 1/3 of people surveyed believe that alcohol is heart healthy, despite a lack of published research to support such a claim.

The researchers from the University of California San Francisco surveyed over 5,000 people and found that:

  • 30% of respondents viewed alcohol as heart healthy
  • 39% of respondents viewed alcohol as unhealthy
  • 31% of respondents were unsure about the health effects of alcohol

The study authors also found that those who view alcohol as being heart healthy tend to be heavier drinkers. They cite the lack of rigorous controlled trials about the effects of alcohol as problematic when compared to the lay press’s portrayal of alcohol being “heart healthy”.

Like many individual components of the diet, alcohol in moderation may be beneficial to health – although, like anything, too much of a good thing is not a good thing! Moderate alcohol intake (defined as no more than 1 drink per day for women and no more than 2 drinks per day for men) is thought to slightly elevate HDL (“good”) cholesterol levels.

To be fair, most dietitians and health experts would agree that it’s not worth taking up drinking alcohol if you don’t already drink in order to get a few point bump in your HDL levels. Engaging in regular cardiovascular exercise is for many people, a more feasible approach to elevating HDL cholesterol.