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Fit 5: Dining Hall Superfoods

Fit Five is a column by health science major and USFcross-country runner Shannon Gordon. Drawingfrom hereducation andexperience, Gordon lists fiveways to improve healthand fitness.

With pizza and sweets on the menu daily, campus dininghalls are full of unhealthytemptations.

However, if you know what to look for, every dining hall oncampus is also home to nutritionaltreasures. What you put in your body can have serious long-term and short-term effects on your well-being, and eating healthy can be easy and accessible. Next time you’re about to grab a slice of meat-lover’s pizza or creamy linguine, stop and think abouthow this could be affectingyour body and instead search for these fivesuperfoods offered in all ofUSF’s dining halls.

1. Tomatoes

Tomatoes are a major source of an antioxidant calledlycopene, which has been proven to provide long-term protection against UV-radiation, according to the BBC.

They also lower cancer rates and protect against free radicals, or molecules that damage tissue and cause aging. Lutein is anotherantioxidant found in tomatoes that helps protect muscle tissue in the eyes. The fruit also contains many water-soluble vitamins thatproduce collagen and strengthentendons, according

Tomatoes are offered in alldining halls at the salad bars, but are also included in many soups and pasta sauces.

2. Peanuts

Nuts are essential to any diet because they include the healthy types of fat – monounsaturatedand polyunsaturated – thatreduce the risk of heartdisease, help repair muscles and increase cell turnoverfor healthy skin, accordingto Men’s Health magazine.

Peanuts are so nutrient-dense that they keep you full longer and decrease your overall caloric intake. They’re digested slowly and help maintain a balanced blood-sugar level, according to Women’s Health magazine. They not only contain both highlevels of protein andmagnesium, but also containresveratrol – a component also found in red wine thought toprotect against heart disease,according to Science News.

Every dining hall offerspeanut butter by the sandwich stations, and Champion’s Choice offers an amazing, freshly made honey-roasted peanut butter.

3. Spinach

Spinach is a great source of iron, which not only strengthensnails, but also increases the amount of oxygen blood can transport to your muscles, according to

This allows your body tohandle a stronger, longerworkout. It also contains highlevels of Vitamin K and

manganese, which help with cartilage and boneformation, and high levelsof Vitamin A, which helps boost immunity. Every dining hall offers spinach daily at the salad bar, so next time opt forspinach over iceburg lettuce in your salad.

4. Apples

Apples are extremely low in calories and very fiber rich, so they are a great food to aid in weight loss. One single apple contains about 20 percentof your daily fiber intake,according to

Diets high in fiber have been related to a significant reduction in the risk of developing heart disease. Apple skin is full ofantioxidant power and the darkerthe color, the better. The skin of Red Delicious apples contains many antioxidants proven to block or kill cancer cells.

5. Broccoli

Broccoli is an importantfood for developing andmaintaining strong bones. Surprisingly, according, broccolicontains more calcium per100 calories than whole milk.

It is also high in vitamin K, which is needed to keep bones full of calcium. Broccoli aids weight loss because it is very high in fiber and contains a flavonoid called quercetin, which suppresses the growth of fat cells, according