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Food as Medicine – The Nutritional Value of Cultural Food

Food as Medicine – The Nutritional Value of Cultural Food

The culinary landscape of Latin America is a universe in itself. Latin cuisine incorporates the vibrancy of our staple ingredients, complex flavor profiles, and centuries-old recipes to make every bite a treasure to anyone lucky enough to try this cuisine. But it’s not just about food for the Latino community. Embedded within our cuisine, is the celebration of community, and heritage.

In Latino households, food serves as a cornerstone of social gatherings, a conduit for familial bonds, and a vessel for cultural expression. From the tantalizing aroma of sizzling street food to the comforting embrace of homemade dishes, every meal holds significance.

What is also amazing about Latino cuisine is that there lies a treasure trove of ancestral wisdom passed down through generations. Traditional dishes made by abuelitas to age-old remedies to address a myriad of ailments. This could include soothing teas infused with aromatic herbs or traditional foods that offer holistic solutions for both body and soul. As modern science converges with ancient traditions, there’s a growing recognition of the profound healing potential found within Latin cuisine.

Today, as modern medicine intersects with ancestral wisdom, we see more and more the healing potential of traditional Latino foods. The ethos of “food is medicine” resonates deeply, guiding individuals towards relatable eating habits and consumption of Latino household foods that help result in a healthier lifestyle.

The Connection Between Traditional Foods and Health

We know that cultural factors play a significant role in shaping dietary choices within Latino communities and this is why it’s important to place an emphasis on health to pass down healthy habits. For example, type 2 diabetes and weight management struggles are prevalent issues within Latino communities. However, by leveraging the inherent nutritional value of traditional Latino foods like aguacate, individuals can adopt dietary patterns that could help prevent or manage these health issues.

The Power of ‘Aguacates’

Amidst the abundance of traditional ingredients found in Latino cuisine, avocado reigns supreme as one of the most nutrient-dense foods around.

Avocados are effectively the only fruit that contains monounsaturated fat which can help lower LDL (bad) cholesterol levels and reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease. Additionally, avocados contribute essential nutrients, including 6% of the Dietary Value (DV) for potassium, 11% of DV for fiber, 10% of DV for vitamin K, 6% of DV for vitamin E, 4% of DV for vitamin C, and 6% DV for B vitamin, which play crucial roles in supporting various bodily functions such as immune function, bone health, and metabolism.

Incorporating avocado into daily meals and snacks can contribute to satiety, aiding in weight management and reducing the risk of overeating.  A serving of avocado contains 4 grams of carbohydrate and don’t rapidly raise blood sugar levels, making them particularly beneficial for people with type 2 diabetes, a prevalent health concern within the Latino community.

What’s more, in a clinical trial of seventy-two Hispanic American (97% Mexican) families received one of two levels of avocado allotment plus nutrition education based upon MyPlate for six months. Researchers assessed two avocado intake levels on family diet quality and nutritional status. Families eating three or fourteen avocados per week experienced no change in body weight and those eating fourteen avocados per week reported a reduction in calories, carbohydrate, saturated fat, and sodium intake compared to those eating three avocados per week. The Avocado Nutrition Center funded the study. Though the findings cannot be generalized due to study limitations, including drawbacks of all validated food frequency questionnaires, this research supports the inclusion of fresh avocados in nutrition education to support weight management while reducing the overconsumption of saturated fat and sodium for Hispanic families.   

Embracing avocados as part of a balanced and nutritious diet is essential for promoting optimal health within the Latino community.

Investing In Your Health

It is important to establish healthy eating patterns including plenty of fruits, vegetables, and unsaturated fats early in life to promote health and prevent chronic disease. Avocados are essentially the only fruit that contain unsaturated fats. 

By incorporating traditional Latino foods into daily meals and snacks, people can embark on a journey toward vitality and well-being. Latin cuisine is riddled with so many options. For example, you can cook hearty sopas simmering with aromatic spices to enjoy on a hot, summer day. Or you can make vibrant salads adorned with ripe avocados whenever you want to show your body some extra love. If you need inspiration on how to get started on making the best and most informed choices about your health, explore some of our favorite recipes.

We promise that with each bite, savored mindfully and with gratitude, anyone can honor the rich legacy of Latino culinary traditions.

Savoring the Essence of Latino Cuisine

Avocados are a nutritional powerhouse, boasting an array of vitamins, minerals, and healthy fats. This luscious fruit is cherished for its taste and association with well-being. It’s the perfect versatile ingredient to help continue to invest in a healthy life.

Aguacate has the ability to elevate a wide array of dishes whether mashed into a spread, sliced atop arepas, or mixed into a creamy flan, lending a unique touch to Latin-inspired creations.

So, let’s continue to take care of ourselves and our families with the help of avocado.

Before you go amigas, I also encourage you to read more about avocado’s nutritional value and the positive impacts and guidance the fruit can provide for your wellness journey!

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