Imagine RIT exhibit highlights the science behind superfoods

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Agricultural Research Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture

Blueberries are a popular “superfood,” packed with antioxidants, nutrients that protect the body from damaging compounds known as “free radicals.”

RIT nutrition management students will explain what gives certain foods an extra nutritional punch at the Imagine RIT: Innovation and Creativity Festival on May 7. Their exhibit, “Repack Your Snack with Superfoods!” will fill the main floor lobby of the Center for Bioscience Education and Technology and is a good choice for parents with children, or anyone curious about healthy foods to eat.

Nutrient-rich foods like almonds, blueberries and beans are loaded with antioxidants, vitamins and minerals that benefit one’s health and well-being.

“There is no formal definition of what a superfood is,” said Elizabeth Ruder, assistant professor in RIT’s Wegmans School of Health and Nutrition in the College of Health Sciences and Technology. “When I think about superfoods, I think about phytonutrients, plant-based nutrients that have special antioxidant properties, which you don’t find in many other foods.”

Students from Ruder’s Community Nutrition class have prepared an interactive exhibit with families in mind. Educating people on improving their diet is a challenge they approach with a sense of fun. The students—some dressed as superfood superheroes—will engage visitors with a food-trivia game, information about common and uncommon superfoods, and a trail mix-station featuring dried cranberries (high in antioxidant phytonutrients), sunflower seeds (good source of vitamin E), banana chips (for potassium and fiber), dark chocolate chips (antioxidant-rich) and mini-pretzels (for B-vitamins). Visitors will make their snack in reusable animal-shaped containers.

“We’ve been doing a lot of volunteer work out in the community, but I am really excited to be on campus and to share the knowledge with everyone here,” said Kelly Read, a fourth-year nutrition management major from Whitesboro, N.Y. “I feel this is a good opportunity to show people what we can do.”

Irena Priadoun, a fourth-year nutrition management student from Cortland, N.Y., is excited about the creativity of their exhibit.

“I feel that this topic will be a big hit,” Priadoun said. “This year we are doing a new topic that our major hasn’t shared before. It’ll be fun and attention-grabbing for children.”