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TOP 5: Healthy Foods in the Dining Halls


It’s always difficult to make decisions in the dining halls because there are so many delicious looking choices. Most people look and get a serving of everything, which is perfectly fine. However, when you look at recommended servings of each food group for optimal nutrition, it’s an arduous task to find the right healthy foods. Here is a short list of healthy foods in the dining halls that you can eat as a snack or a side with your meal.

Sunflower Seeds

(photo courtesy of Newsnish)

Nuts and seeds are fantastic foods to eat as snacks or as a side. Sunflower seeds are sweet and nutty and contain an abundance of essential vitamins and minerals that are great for your body.  They are high in energy and contain antioxidants with most of their calories coming from fatty acids that help with lowering cholesterol and cardiovascular health. They are an excellent source of vitamin E and copper, which means it is great for your skin and hair. The magnesium in the seeds help calm your nerves, muscles, and blood vessels too. The selenium helps with detoxification and preventing cancer. Sunflower seeds can be found all across the campus in all of the dining halls in the salad bars. They are great to put on a salad or other entrees and are perfect for a snack on the go.



(photo courtesy of Find Health Centers)

Edamame, found in the dining halls’ salad bars, is a branched bean made of soy that is packed with nutrients, vitamins, and various other health benefits. They are perfect for snacks and toppings for your salad or other entrees. Edamame is said to help with preventing age-related mental illnesses, cardiovascular disease, breast and prostate cancer, depression, diabetes, inflammation, and osteoporosis. It is also said to help boost fertility and energy levels. So, grab about half a cup of these soybeans and enjoy the health benefits!




(photo courtesy of Authority Nutrition)

Almonds, like most nuts, help reduce the risk of heart disease and lower your cholesterol. It also helps with protecting you against diabetes and cardiovascular disease by lessening surges in blood sugar levels. Almonds are better at improving blood fats, reducing blood pressure, and lowering your risk of weight gain. The manganese and copper helps increase your energy production too! By incorporating almonds into your daily diet, they will prevent gallstones. The vitamin E will protect your cell membranes from being damaged. Almonds are not alway found at the salad bar, so it’s a good idea to take as many as you can when they’re there! Almonds are also found on various dishes and desserts prepared by the chefs.




(photo courtesy of Medical News Today)

Bananas are found in our dining halls nearly every day, but they go quickly, so be sure to grab one when they’re there! Bananas are a good source of potassium, which helps prevents cramps and maintain blood pressure. According to a study conducted by the Imperial College of London, children who ate a banana a day had a 34% less chance of developing asthma. The vitamin C in bananas helps fight off cancer. The fiber in the bananas will help lower blood sugar levels and therefore fight against diabetes. All of the fiber, potassium, vitamin C, and B6 assist in supporting good heart health as well. By increasing potassium and decreasing sodium, you are helping your heart and preventing the risk of cardiovascular disease. Bananas are also said to help preserve memory and boosting your mood!




(photo courtesy of Babble)

Quinoa is often times found in the dining halls at the salad bar as its own specially made salad or as an entree. This is less of a snack food and meal sides. Quinoa is a whole grain that has been cultivated for hundreds of years. It is packed with vitamins, minerals, and high in fiber to help regulate your digestive system. White pastas, rice, and breads provide us with simple carbohydrates and are quickly digested, providing very little nutritional value. Quinoa is gluten-free naturally and contains iron, B-vitamins, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, calcium, vitamin E, and fiber. It is also one of the few plant foods that is considered a complete protein and contains all pernine essential amino acids. Quinoa also helps prevent cardiovascular disease, Type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, and obesity. So, next time in your dining hall and looking for something other than pasta, you should definitely try a quinoa dish.


Those are five healthy foods you can find in the dining halls at Mount Holyoke. Know that these are not the only healthy foods that you can have as a snack or side because the dining halls have a wide selection. This is only the first list of  the best foods to eat which have  the most health benefits.


Elizabeth Gottshall is a Mount Holyoke College sophomore who is into photography, writing, studio art, and film. She spends her free time spotting and petting dogs on campus, working with photoshop, and watching movies and tv shows on Netflix. After college, she hopes to be working either in the film or television industry.
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