Going organic… and abandoning additives

Sarah Rosenberg

On the back of your Q-card, you’ll notice the logos from some popular local eateries in Hamden. Domino’s Pizza and Wing’s Over Hamden are just a few of the unhealthy takeout restaurants college students resort to during late nights on the weekends.

“There are just so many unhealthy choices,” freshman Jessica Brun said.

Some students seem to have the wrong idea about what is good for their bodies and what is harmful to it. Along with delicious yet calorie-laden fast food, the foods we buy for our personal stash in the dorm or foods that are found in Café Q may be full of additives and ingredients that are tampering with the overall health of our bodies. Eating organically and abandoning foods with trans fat and high fructose corn syrup may do wonders for our health.

Quinnipiac University nutrition professor Susan Henderson discussed the risks of such additives and the benefits of making healthy choices.

According to the Harvard School of Public Health, trans fat is deceiving. It increases the cholesterol that is bad for you, known as LDL cholesterol, and decrease the cholesterol that is beneficial, known as HDL cholesterol. Trans fat can increase the chances of heart disease, as it has a highly negative effect on cholesterol.

“Trans fats are really the worst fats that you could possibly eat,” Henderson said. “The trans fats sometimes show up as ‘partially hydrogenated.’ Anything that is ‘partially hydrogenated’ is going to have trans fats. They’re particularly high in things like cookies and crackers.”

High fructose corn syrup is another common yet unhealthy additive found in a number of foods. This additive is an artificial sweetener, found in soda and canned fruit syrups. This additive adds to the taste of food but may be high in calories and low in nutritional value according to the Mayo Clinic.

Henderson said food companies sneak sweeteners into their products all the time.

“Popular peanut butters, ketchup, and a lot of prepared dishes” contain artificial sweeteners, Henderson said. She also explained that high fructose corn syrup has been linked to obesity as well as diabetes. Recent studies show children are now more at risk for Type 2 diabetes and obesity than ever before.

Despite the difficulty of eating healthy in college, there are ways to eat right around campus.

“I try to stay away from fried foods such as the French fries or chicken fingers,” Brun said of what she avoids eating in the cafeteria. “I mostly try to stay from Coyote Jack’s!”

Henderson noted that the cafeteria offers food options that are low in harmful additives. The salad bar is always a good option, but “the hot foods generally don’t have those additives,” she said.

Henderson also advised avoiding the typical snack foods, such as cookies and crackers. She also maintained that students should drink less soda as it is loaded with sugar.

“Salmon is important source of a lot of good nutrients, as well as fresh fruits and vegetables and whole grains,” she said. “The thing to eating is to choose foods that you can identify as food and that have as few ingredients as possible.”

Eating organically is another lifestyle choice that may be beneficial in the long run. Going organic can reduce the risk of a number of diseases including cancer, stroke, heart disease and Type 2 diabetes, as stated on organicfood.com. It can also promote weight loss.

“Organic food does not use pesticides and people who wish to limit their exposure to these residues will buy organic food over non-organic food,” Henderson said. “Pesticides have been linked to cancer, and developmental problems in infants and children.”

She noted that pesticides end up in the fatty portions of your body and stay dormant there. They also have been linked to cancer.

Buying fresh fruits and vegetables that are in season are the best organic foods to purchase. To ensure the quality of fruits and vegetables, Henderson advised washing them under water or thoroughly peeling the skin. Cutting the fat off of meat and poultry will also reduce the chances of it being contaminated with pesticides.

Stocking up on fruits and vegetables in your dorm may be difficult with those pint-size mini-fridges, but it may lead to better health. Consuming foods with high levels of additives can also be avoided when you check the labels on the foods you buy in the grocery store. To be extra careful, limit your intake of those Coyote Jack’s burgers. Resisting the temptation may be hard, but think of all the trans fat you’re leaving behind along the way.