Researchers work to make unhealthy foods healthy

Associate professor of food engineering Subramaniam Sathivel extracts protein from shellfish and turns it into a powder to be used to enrich soups Monday in Ingram Hall. (AMY BROUSSARD / The Daily Reveille)

Students looking for a healthier alternative to greasy hamburgers and deep-fried catfish may not have to look as far as they think.

Subramaniam Sathivel, associate professor of food engineering, along with other AgCenter researchers, is experimenting with adding healthier components to popular food items like hamburgers, catfish and shrimp.

Sathivel said most seafood in Louisiana lacks a strong source of Omega-3 edible oils, so he is researching ways to increase the health benefits of food.

“If you look at the American diet, most of them are eating high-fat foods,” Sathivel said.

He said the oil, a powder that can be mixed into a catfish patty, can also be added to other popular food items like bread and pizza. Sathivel said the oil is capsulated, which masks the fishy taste and ensures the oil will last longer.

University dietitian Vanessa Richard said any time an unhealthy food can be made healthier by adding fiber or other nutrients, it’s always a good thing.