“People are paying more attention to what they eat, and they are more conscious about the role nutrition plays in their overall wellbeing.” said Ana Aragon, Nutrition, Health and Wellness and Sustainability Manager for Nestlé Professional. “Eating a healthy balanced diet rich in vegetables and fruits allows us to source different nutrients through our food to support normal immune function, alongside staying active, reducing stress levels and getting enough sleep,” she added.
Ana explains that chefs and restauranteurs worldwide can also play a key part in providing nutritious and healthy recipes for customers to help support their immune systems and guide towards maintaining a balanced diet.
Foods and beverages that are rich in micronutrients and are a “source of” vitamins A, C, D, B6 and B12 and minerals folate, iron, zinc, cooper and selenium, support the normal function of the immune system. Chefs and restaurants can incorporate more fruits and vegetables, whole grains, nuts and seeds into their meals to provide these micronutrients.
Eager to protect their health, consumers are choosing more plant-based foods and beverages as they can be a good source of essential nutrients including vitamins, minerals, dietary fiber, healthy oils and protein. There has also been a significant growth in plant-based meat alternatives availability and interest since these solutions can deliver a great sensory experience as well as a good nutritional profile. This rising interest creates a great opportunity for chefs and restaurants to increase their plant-based food offerings in their menus to help their customers diversify their diets, fostering good health and nutrition, and decreasing the environmental impact at the same time.
Advocating plant-based benefits have stemmed from Ana’s childhood days, growing up between a small city and rural farm in the Spanish Basque Country, where she was influenced by the role food plays in our overall health and its impact on our planet.
“I loved to see how food was grown. The care and attention my parents and grandparents put into every tomato, bean or fruit has taught me to have a deep respect for what we eat and enabled me to develop a deep conviction to avoid wasting food. I wanted to know where the ingredients came from, how it was produced and read all the nutritional information on food labels, even at a young age,” she said.
Ana also worked in the food service industry to finance her university degree in Food Science and Technology. “At that time, I was already convinced of the great importance of chef’s role in providing nutrition and sustainability because they are the ones who do the magic through their knowledge and creativity, to make nutritious food delicious and a great experience”. Then joined Nestlé in 1996 working in various roles including food manufacturing, nutrition, food safety, research and communication – having a career spanning over 25 years – before stepping into the out-of-home (OOH) business.
Ana points out that sharing this knowledge with food professionals is critical to raise the awareness of the importance of good nutrition in out of home. Providing practical tips to chefs, restaurants, and institutions who are training future chefs is a focus and passion for her.
“At Nestlé Professional, we aim to support our partners in the food service industry by sharing our nutritional and environmental knowledge, insights and trends. Also, on a personal level, I want my own children and future generations to eat well and have more planet-positive options with nutritious and balanced food and beverage solutions” she added.
Ana was also featured in a live Worldchefs Webinar on January 25, 2021. Ana has shared some of her knowledge on the latest themes for food and nutrition and chef’s key role in enabling the best nutritious food for consumers in the current reality in a Worldchefs podcast that was released in December 2020. You can listen for free with this link: NUTRITION PODCAST