Look to Latin Cooking to Improve Health


There has been much interest in Mediterranean cuisine and its possible medical benefits. However, individuals who prefer the spice and flair of Latin dishes are in luck; Latin food, too, has proven to be beneficial for health.

There are certain components of Latin cooking that can be advantageous to those watching their weight or making dietary changes for another reason. Mainstay ingredients of Latin cooking have a multitude of benefits. Here are just some of the ingredients to consider.

Quinoa: Quinoa is a grain that offers substantial protein and essential amino acids. Because of the protein it packs, it is a good option for vegetarians.

Chiles: The capsaicin in chiles that give the peppers their hot bite can help reduce inflammation in the body. The peppers are also another good source of vitamin C.

Papaya: This fruit is a healthy addition to any fruit salads or as a side dish to meat and fish. Papaya contains potassium, folic acid and more vitamin C than some fruits more commonly associated with vitamin C, including oranges.

Avocado: Avocados are found in dips and toppings for many Latin-inspired foods. Although many people shy away from the fruit because of its high content of fat, avocados are excellent sources of good monounsaturated fats that help lower cholesterol. When enjoyed in moderation, it can be a good component for cholesterol health.

Pumpkin seeds: These seeds contain phytosterols that help promote healthy immune systems as well as protein. Instead of fatty snacks, people can munch on low-fat, low-calorie pumpkin seeds.

Beans: An undisputed leader in fiber and protein, beans have three times the soluble fiber of oatmeal. They can help reduce cholesterol and also help fill a person without a lot of fatty meats or other ingredients. Beans are another good component for vegetarian diners.

Cilantro: That spicy punch in salsas and other Latin dishes may not be from peppers but from cilantro. This herb is often mistaken for parsley in a dish, but one bite will tell otherwise. Cilantro is the leafy part of a coriander plant and is a good source of antioxidants. It can be a flavorful addition to foods instead of adding calories through other ingredients.

Plantains: Similar in appearance to bananas, plantains contain similar nutritional content as well. They are high in vitamin A, potassium and fiber. But they should be eaten in moderation because they can be high in fat.

Seafood: Many Latin dishes feature seafood, which tends to be high in good forms of essential fatty acids, especially oily fish like salmon, tuna and snapper.

Coconut milk: Coconut milk has a number of benefits, including being a rich source of manganese, which may help with glucose intolerance. It is rich in calcium and phosphorus, essential nutrients for strengthening bones. Coconuts also may help reduce anemia by offering the body substantial iron.

Enjoying a Latin-inspired meal may not just be a tasty experience, but it can be a healthy one as well.


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