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The University of Alicante generalizes healthy set menus in its restaurant services

The initiative, promoted by the Office of the Vice President for Campus Facilities, is supervised by the Food and Nutrition Advice Centre ALINUA


Alicante, 12 February 2014

Pasta with artichokes and cheese, only 400 calories; roasted hake with vegetables, 420; or lentils with vegetables, 480. These are some of the succulent suggestions of the Healthy Menus that the University of Alicante has established in its catering services of the Campus of San Vicente. The initiative belongs to the project Healthy University, which is promoted by the Office of the Vice President for Campus Facilities and Sustainability, and counts on the cooperation of ALINUA, the nutrition advice centre of the UA. They supervise the menus, count their calories and control the preparation of the dishes according to healthy criteria.

In a university community with more than 40,000 people, there are more and more people who, because of comfort or necessity, choose to have lunch on campus. But eating away from home should not necessarily mean eating unhealthy food, and that is the objective of this initiative which is being established gradually in the university restaurants.

Six menus have been prepared in this first stage, all of them with a similar caloric value (less than 700 calories), that will be changed in each season depending on the seasonal products. According to José Antonio Hurtado, vice-dean of Health Sciences and in charge of ALINUA, “they are balanced menus with vegetables, proteins and carbohydrates which avoid sauces, fried food, refined pasta and sugar”. Each one has three courses: a starter made of vegetables (salads or vegetable creams), a main course with proteins or carbohydrates with vegetables (meat, fish, pasta, rice or legumes) and a dessert with fruit or yoghurt with fruit.

José Ramón Martínez Riera, the director of the Office for Sustainability and Occupational Health, says: “The dishes on the healthy menus will be tagged with a specific symbol and may be purchased individually or as a whole menu”. He also assures that it has been agreed to charge a similar price to the rest of the menus available on campus.

The menus will be modified according to the demand and the climatology, too, but always under the supervision of the nutritionists. In addition, the results will be useful to test the eating habits of the university community and analyse its evolution.

The objective of ALINUA, since it was put into operation last academic year, is to make people aware of the importance of having healthy eating habits. That is why, apart from offering healthy diets, ALINUA offers advice about how to prepare them and can adapt them to the user’s preferences.

The main users of the nutrition advice centre are people over 40, usually teachers or staff of management and services, regardless of the gender. Although several variables as habits, exercise, build, age and gender have influence, the average caloric content ranges from 1,800 to 2,200 calories per day and lunch should provide 30% of them. The rest should to be divided into the other four meals; that is why a diet must be healthy and balanced

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