Keivon Bell makes it a priority to eat the right foods.
The junior psychology student from Moore Haven, Fla., said being on his own in college has made him much more conscious of what he puts in his body.
However, not all African-American students have the same mindset. The American Heart Association found that in African-Americans age 20 and above, 44.4 percent of men and 48.9 percent of women suffer from cardiovascular disease.
“I always had my mom to make my meals, so I didn’t really think about the nutrition factor,” Bell said. “Now I know I have to eat right so my mind, body and soul will stay healthy.”
A poor diet can lead to obesity and increased risk of cancer and heart disease, according to the Centers for Disease Control, which also reported that heart disease is the leading cause of death in African-Americans. But eating right isn’t always the easiest thing to do.
Geoffrey Evans, junior graphic design student from Miami, said sometimes it’s easier to be unhealthy. Evans said unhealthy options are usually much faster and more convenient.
“You have to actually prepare a salad,” Evans said. “A burger and fries is faster, and sometimes when you’re hungry, you can’t wait.”
Metz Culinary, Florida A&M’s new food service, offers a variety of food in its cafeteria in a buffet style for students. Most of the time, Metz posts the nutrition value of its dishes near the food, and students are always able to get the information from the chef.
April Jackson, executive chef at Metz, said Metz is always looking out for the health of the students and tries to provide plenty of options so students can be completely satisfied.
“There is always a vegetarian option to our main dish,” Jackson said. “We also offer a salad bar that has something from every food group so students can get their vegetables, proteins and more.”
Andreia Fonsech, a second-year agronomy exchange student from Brazil, doesn’t think the cafeteria offers enough healthy options. She said her meals are limited to a salad on most days.
“I can see how it would be easier to make pizza and burgers, but sometimes I get bored with the salads,” Fonsech said. “I just want to eat something that will do something good for my body.”
Most young people in the U.S. do not get their daily-recommended value of whole grains, fruits or vegetables. However, according to the CDC, they consume more than the recommended value of sodium.
Brian Ringpfiel, a nutrition educator at the Hansel E. Tookes Recreation Center, said students can and should eat healthy at school. He recommends choosing the healthiest option presented.
“Choose grilled or baked chicken before fried,” Ringpfiel said. “If they aren’t offering anything healthy enough, just cut your portions and fill up with leafy greens.”