ALEXANDRIA, VA — Traditional Latin American foods have a reputation for being full of flavor. Unfortunately, many of these foods that have brought families together for generations are being prepared now in ways that can compromise one’s health.
Oftentimes Latin foods are prepared with high-calorie ingredients that are fried or full of salt and sugars. According to the American Diabetes Association (ADA), eating foods high in fat and calories can place people at risk for developing type 2 diabetes. This is especially important for Hispanics/Latinos, since they are at higher risk for developing type 2 diabetes than non-Latino whites.
“It is possible to enjoy Latin food that is both delicious and good for you,” comments Chef Lala, national spokesperson for the American Diabetes Association’s Latino initiative, Por tu Familia. “By making simple changes to ingredients and cooking methods, people can keep the big flavors of Latin cuisine without missing any of the traditional tastes families have shared for years.”
Chef Lala, Laura Diaz, is an internationally know celebrity chef, author, television host and certified nutritionist who has devoted her love to mastering and refining Latin cuisines and educating her fans about how to enjoy the 23 varieties in a healthful fashion.
Approximately 2.5 million Hispanic/Latino Americans over the age of 20 have diabetes and are at increased risk for serious complications such as kidney disease, blindness, and amputations. If present trends continue, one in two minorities born in 2000 will develop diabetes in their lifetime.
The ADA offers these simple tips to make Latin food that is both flavorful and nutritious.
- Go bananas – Take advantage of all the fruits and vegetables that come from the Caribbean, and Latin and South America and incorporate them in your meal plan. Be adventurous and pick up a new fruit or vegetable the next time you go to the store.
- Every fiber of your being – Incorporate more fiber in your meal plan by choosing fresh produce and whole grain products, such as brown rice or whole wheat tortillas.
- ‘Tis the season – Skip the salt and use herbs, garlic and other seasonings. Use spicy chili peppers to add flavor and zip. Try smoked turkey instead of salt pork.
- Now you’re cooking! – Broil it. Bake it. Grill it. Or, use a low calorie cooking spray instead of butter when frying or sautéing.
- Lean on me - Remove skin and fat from meats before cooking. Use skim instead of whole milk.
Por tu Familia, translated into English as “For Your Family,” sponsors community based programs in English and Spanish to inform Latinos about the importance of making healthy lifestyle choices in order prevent diabetes and to help those living with the disease. The initiative sponsors a variety of outreach programs that are culturally specific to the Latino community. Programs and events sponsored by the initiative emphasize the uniqueness of the Latino culture and incorporate rich customs such as dance and traditional cuisine. These programs teach the basics of preventing diabetes and how to lead a healthy lifestyle for those diagnosed with diabetes.
To receive healthy recipes from the American Diabetes Association, call 800-DIABETES to order your own free copy of the new “Latin Flavor in the Kitchen” recipe sampler. You also can purchase cookbooks by calling 800-232-6733 or shop online at http://store.diabetes.org. To learn more about the Por tu Familia Latino Program and outreach activities in your area, call 888-342-2383 or visit diabetes.org/latinos.
Copyright © 2002 American Diabetes Association From Cocinando para Latinos con Diabetes (Diabetic Cooking for Latinos).
Reprinted with permission from the American Diabetes Association.