BU Nutrition Professor’s "Virtual Salad Bar" Teaches Salad Smarts

in Health & Medicine, News Releases, Sargent College
February 11th, 2005

Contact: Pamela Powell, (617) 353-0197 | ppowell@bu.edu

(Boston) — Pile some lettuce on your plate, add scoops of various toppings, ladle on the salad dressing and you have a healthy meal, right? Not necessarily. If you’re a salad bar patron who loads up all the salad toppings, you may be getting more than you bargained for.

Although the new dietary guidelines recently issued by the USDA advise Americans to increase vegetable intake, consumers need to be aware that the toppings they add to salad can quickly make them top heavy in calories and fat.

Joan Salge Blake, MS, RD, LDN, clinical assistant professor of nutrition at Boston University (BU) Sargent College of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences designed a Web-based, interactive tool she calls her “virtual salad bar” to teach people how to build a “healthy” salad.

When using this program, participants are given an empty plate, and with the click of their mouse, are able to add ingredients to their salad such as lettuce, tomatoes, tuna with mayonnaise, beans, cheeses, croutons and dressing. As they add each item, they see how each ingredient and topping affects the nutritional quality of their salad. By seeing how each choice impacts the calories, fat, carbohydrates and fiber in the salad, users learn how to adjust their salad bar creation to meet the needs of their diet.

“The new dietary guidelines highlight the importance of including veggies in a well-balanced diet, however, people need to be aware that loading their greens with cheeses, mayonnaise-based toppings, and a full-fat salad dressing can create a high calorie, high saturated fat tossed salad that may become a challenge to balance in their diet.” says Salge Blake. “My goal is help people understand how to make healthy food choices for themselves.”

To use Salge Blake’s “Virtual Salad Bar,” or her other interactive tools such as the “Virtual Pizza Parlor” or “52 Small Steps to Weight Loss,” visit http://people.bu.edu/salge/.

Boston University (BU) Sargent College of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences is an institution of higher education, research and clinical centers whose premier academic programs prepare dynamic health professionals and whose research and leadership in the health and rehabilitation sciences is actively shaping health care. BU Sargent College is the only private institution in the country offering five nationally ranked graduate programs in health and rehabilitation sciences. For more information and to learn about degree programs in physical therapy, occupational therapy, communication disorders, health sciences, athletic training, nutrition, and rehabilitation counseling, visit http://www.bu.edu/sargent.

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