February is American Heart Month and Seton Hall University is helping to educate students on how to be heart-healthy.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, every 25 seconds someone in America has a coronary event.
The American Heart Association considers obesity one of the major risk factors for coronary heart disease, heart attacks and conditions such as diabetes and high cholesterol.
According to americanheart.org increased portion sizes, lack of nutrients and laziness have been contributing factors in obesity and heart problems.
A recent program in the spirit of American Heart Month showed students how dark chocolate, when eaten in moderation, can actually be healthy.
A fact sheet distributed to students illustrated the powerful antioxidants contained in chocolate and students were shown how to portion snacks such as almonds.
The “February is Heart Month” informational flyer from Gourmet Dining Services also stresses control of portions and eating foods in moderation, particularly moderating the intake of fat, which leads to high cholesterol.
Vice President of Operations for Gourmet Dining Services at Seton Hall Anthony Frungillo believes students’ nutrition at Seton Hall is very important. “We try to add a lot of healthy options, even though students may not gravitate towards it,” Frungillo said.
Although students tend to gravitate towards the bottomless soft serve ice cream, Gourmet Dining Services is making an effort to help students realize the better choices in the cafeteria for them.
“We are trying more and more to catch the students and do a lot more interactive programs with our dietician,” Frungillo said. “We do take it seriously, and it’s amazing when students realize there are healthier and fresher things in the cafeteria.”
Frungillo also said that student response has increased, noting Housing and Residence Life has helped bring students to programs, especially when priority points are offered.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention stresses obesity raises the risk of heart disease.
Obesity is the result of consuming more calories than are used up by physical activity in daily life.
For students, it is easy to splurge on meals in the cafeteria which offers meals in a buffet style, and not have the time for physical exercise.
“We realize it’s important to have healthy choices,” Frungillo said. He also said the fear of the “Freshman 15” plays a role in implementing healthy choices and programs for students, so that they can learn to utilize those healthier choices when dining.
Frungillo stressed the importance of portion sizes for students dining in the cafeteria, having seen some of the tall plates that students help themselves to.
“Just know proper portion sizes,” Frungillo said. He continued to stress certain foods taken in moderation are not as harmful to students as dining in bulk.
While February offers them a special opportunity to highlight some particular health problems that arise from poor dieting, the choice to implement these dieting tips is the students.’
“It takes more time and it takes more effort,” Frungillo said. “But that healthy option is there.”
Samantha Desmond can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.