Medical students studying nutrition head into the kitchen

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Thursday, May 24, 2018
Medical students studying nutrition head into the kitchen
Medical students studying nutrition head into the kitchen - Monica Malpass reports during Action News at 5pm on May 24, 2018.

WYNNEFIELD HEIGHTS (WPVI) -- We're all learning the importance of food in our health and more and more doctors are being asked for nutrition advice, so a local medical school is putting its doctors right into the kitchen.

Forget the TV reality shows.

This is Culinary Medicine, a pilot course at the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine.

Over 4 weeks, students get classroom lessons, case studies and assignments in nutrition.

"The grande - 69 grams of sugar!!!!" exclaims one student charting the added sugar in foods.

But each week, they also learn by cooking meals, under the direction of 2 doctors and school dining director Budd Cohen.

The class is modeled on the successful Culinary Medicine program at Tulane University.

The goal is to help students better understand nutrition for future patients and for themselves.

"What goes in our mouths is very important to what happens later. The multiple chronic diseases, and cancers, and coronary artery disease, heart disease - have all been linked to diet.," says Dr. Joanne Kakathy-Monzo, the program's co-director.

"They can actually see and feel, and taste the food, and the nutrients that are healthy," adds fellow co-director Dr. Farzeneh Daghigh.

Each week's menu focuses on a major element, such as cancer prevention or anti-inflammatory foods.

The chef highlights nutritious items students might not be familiar with, and helps them see old stand-bys in a more nutritious and eye-appealing light.

"We can take something like chili - that is really like an All-American food, garnish it real nice, take out some of the heavy fats and proteins, and make it healthy," says Cohen.

He also teaches kitchen safety and skills.

"Easier cutting techniques - the onion, he cut like this, and then like that - already cubed," says first-year student Paulina Rudy.

Students say the food's nutritious - and downright delicious.

Says Rudy, "I'm definitely going to make some of these at home."

The first session is over, registration for the next course is already filled - and there's a waiting list.

So school officials are now looking for ways to expand the program.