The Latin American Diet

Photo: State Library and Archives of Florida

I have some firsthand experience with Latin America, but if you are Latin American and have different traditions, please share in the comments section. I do not mean to over-generalize, as I know that no one wants to be stereotyped. Here are some healthy eating habits that I have seen.

1. Lots of fresh fruit and fresh-squeezed fruit juices. You may be surprised at the fresh juices because they include much more than OJ, and they are prepared and served fresh! Some varieties I have loved are cantaloupe, watermelon, blackberry, pineapple, and mango. The juice ingredients are fruit (often including the skin) and maybe a little extra water/ice or occasionally a touch of sugar. Freshly cut fruit of any sort is frequently served with dessert.
2. Rarely serve cooked vegetables but salads instead. Once I brought a green bean casserole and a broccoli casserole to a potluck at church (a Hispanic church), and they were not touched. So my poor husband who does not like broccoli had to eat broccoli casserole the entire next week. And the salads are frequently served without salad dressing! All that is needed for flavor is freshly squeezed lime and a touch of salt/pepper.
3. A variety of beans, served as a side, in a soup or cooked into other foods. Legumes are a perfect source of protein, calcium, fiber and iron. See link below for more health benefits of beans.
4. Uncommon to find creamy/milk-based sauces. Instead, meats are grilled or cooked with fresh vegetables.5. Freshly prepared hot sauces. All it takes is roasting the peppers, then blending them.

6. Soups made with clear broth rather than cream-based and served with fresh lime. Try adding lime to your next chicken noodle soup and you will never turn back. You may not know that most Mexican restaurants (at least here in the South) serve an amazing chicken soup (usually includes pico de gallo, avocado, rice, chicken breast and lime).

7. Avocado! Frequently it is simply sliced and served with the side dishes. Of course, guacamole with fresh cilantro is the perfect addition to any Tex-Mex dish.

Additional Info:

After-40 Nutrition: The Surprising Health Benefits of Beans, from

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I am a Physical Therapist and Ergonomics Consultant, based out of Columbia, SC. My passion is to write about and speak about pain/injury prevention. I started Pain Talks as a consulting business in 2018.

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