Many traditional (and delicious) Latino foods are passed down from one generation to the next. Making a few simple changes to how we prepare these foods – along with smaller portions sizes – are key to reaping the benefits. It’s important to keep and share many of these traditional foods, but we want these foods to be healthy. Staying healthy can be a challenge, but making simple lifestyle changes can help a lot, like eating healthy and being physically active. Latinos are at higher risk for many diseases, such as type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, becoming overweight and obese, heart attacks and strokes.
It’s best to limit or avoid foods high in saturated fat, salt and sugar. These foods include sweetened drinks, white rice, white flour tortillas and solid fats such as lard. Other foods to limit or avoid include sweets such as flans and churros, fried foods, and whole fat cheeses.
Here are more tips for healthy eating:
- Use olive or vegetable oil to cook.
- Fill one-half of your plate with vegetables, one quarter of your plate with lean protein foods, like lean beef or chicken or fish, and one quarter with a starch. such as brown rice.
- Choose healthy fats like unsalted nuts and seeds as a snack but limit a potion size to about 1/4 cup.
- Eat lots of whole grains, including maize, yams, plantains and maize.
- Eat a variety of fruits and vegetables, such as peppers, squash, dark leafy greens, tomatoes, mangos, papaya, bananas and pineapples
- Choose low fat or skim milk dairy products.
- Remember to use lots of spices and herbs instead of salt.
Joanne M. Gallivan, M.S., R.D.N. is a registered Dietitian Nutritionist. She served as the Director of the National Diabetes Education Program (NDEP) in the Office of Communication and Public Liaison for the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK) of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) from 1997-2016. Previously, Ms. Gallivan has served as project manager for NIDDK’s Weight-Control Information Network (WIN), a national source of information on weight control, obesity, and weight-related nutritional disorders for health professionals and the public; as Contract Manager for the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute’s National Cholesterol Education Program and Obesity Education Initiative, and as Director of the Prince George’s County Health Department Nutrition Division located in Maryland.
Barrier Islands Free Medical Clinic is a free clinic in Charleston, SC, that provides free medical care to uninsured adults. The Free Clinic serves adults with no health insurance living at or below 299 % of the Federal poverty level who live or work on Johns, James, & Wadmalaw Island or Folly Beach, or serve the Hospitality Industry of Downtown Charleston. You can sign up for our monthly e-news updates, or follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube.