Latinos repeatedly hear about the top medical problems that are on the rise, affecting the community in a negative way. Many have heard about the issues that their friends have gone through, have heard how to better their health from their doctors and have even heard it from their family members. But the thought of changing lifestyles is overwhelming and the idea of a diet goes against all Latinos believe a healthy lifestyle should be.
Regardless of what dietitians, doctors and nutritionists have told you, there are things that you can do in your own home that will help with some of the top problems for Latinos in addition to insight from professionals. Right now, among the top preventative issues are diabetes and heart disease.
Currently, one in five Latinos has hypertension and last year, it was announced that heart disease and stroke were the number one killer of Latinos.
Here are a few things that you can do to help your health and live a longer life.
Stop frying everything: Oil is delicious, we know this. In the Latino community, a lot of our food is fried. From the arroz con gandules to the costillas in red tomato sauce, Latinos have been known to fry meat, bread, cheese and fruit. There is enough fat in the pork meat that Latinos eat in lechón, carnitas and pozole. Take your heart into consideration; don’t push it.
- Try poaching your food. What is poaching? It’s cooking your food in water. When it comes to meat, you can cook chicken, turkey and fish in water without frying it. Bring your water to a boil and submerge your meat for about 10 minutes. The meat will retain water, keep its juices and its flavor.
- Grill your food. Don’t use oil, use a grill. Grilled chicken and other meats, like pork, taste delicious off the grill. Arrachera, hamburgers and sausages are cooked on the grill all the time in households during the summer for barbecues. You can do the same thing over the stove in the winter.
- If you must use oil, use olive oil. Extra-virgin olive oil is a monounsaturated fat and helps keep “bad” cholesterol down, while also boosting levels of “good” cholesterol. It’s also high in antioxidants which have been liked to heart health.
Lay off the salt. Salt, among other things, is a known cause of hypertension. You don’t need salt in everything that you eat. Latinos, if anything, usually feel that food is tasteless unless they use a couple shakes of the salt shaker. Don’t add salt to the food before or while you’re cooking it. This will allow each individual to add their own salt to taste and lessen the amount in the food.
Although sea salt is marketed as a better choice between sea salt and table salt, they both have very similar nutritional values although table salt is more proceed and has added iodine which helps keep a healthy thyroid.
If you need flavor in your food, try healthy alternatives.
- Seaweed flakes
- Lemon juice
Cut the soda. Soda. Pop. Soda pop. Cut it out. Soda all in itself is bad for you. It’s bad for your teeth, there’s too much sugar and it’s processed. Cutting the habit is hard. Sugar is the easiest habit to form. Cutting it out of your diet seems incredibly hard. But instead of cutting it out, cut it in half. You drink soda for lunch and dinner? Pick one. Lunch or dinner. Tell yourself that you are only going to have one serving, can, glass of soda per day.
- Drink more water. Agua te da vida. The more you drink of it in a pure state, the better. Since we are made of water, it is your best bet for thirst. Drink eight cups a day. Water helps with ridding your body of waste, helps make your skin healthier, helps you lose weight and helps boost brain power.
- Drink 100 percent juice. Just because it says “juice” doesn’t mean it’s real. Most juices are only 10 to 30 percent real fruit juice. The rest is sugar and preservatives. Recently, it has been noted that juices like Capri Sun and others that you find on the shelves at the grocery store, have so many preservatives in them, they can grow mold and ferment, tasting and smelling like liquor. You don’t want your children drinking that.
Eat more vegetables. Don’t fry them. Don’t boil them. Steam them. Steaming vegetables helps retain the vitamins and nutrients that vegetables have. Add a little pepper to steamed veggies and you have the perfect side dish to your meal. It’s also fast. Prep time for steamed veggies is a total of about 15 minutes.
Eat raw vegetables. I know, salads sound awful sometimes. But really, this might be a great way to eat your vegetables. They can be whole meals. A bed of lettuce with tomatoes, onions, carrots, broccoli, cauliflower, mushrooms and green peppers is not only a great source of water for your body but also a great source of iron. Throw some garbanzo beans, tuna or avocado and you have a great dinner salad in 10 minutes.
Eat more of the healthy dishes that you make. Caldo de res, caldo de pezcado, rajas, nopales and beans are all sources of great nutritional value. And guess what? Latinos eat them all the time. Caldos, or stews, are a fantastic source of nutrients. Throwing in all of the vegetables and pieces of meat your heat desires come together for a delicious meal that can feed a whole army.
Fresh fruit is common in households during the summer, but why not eat fruit during the winter? Eat apples, bananas, oranges and grapes. Full of natural unprocessed sugar, vitamins and minerals, fruit can help regulate the body as well as provide natural carbohydrates and fiber.