You might have gotten your hips from Mami, and your hair from Papi, but you may be able to thank your cultura for your healthy body! Latinos are at a cultural advantage when it comes to leading a healthy lifestyle, thanks to the some of the traditional traits of our shared culture. Though American Latinos are at high risk for diabetes and heart disease, they are exposed to traditional dishes, activities and lifestyle traits that may help them reduce the risk of these deadly diseases.
Traditional Latino food consists of healthy staples like nopales and plantains, which are health sources of rich and heart-healthy nutrients. Also, it is likely that your abuelita didn’t grow up on McDonalds, instead eating home-cooked meals consisting of seafood, chicken and heart-healthy beans. Eating home-cooked food allows you to control the ingredients, as well as the portion sizes, allowing you to eliminate the potential to overeat, or consume too much fat, sodium or sugar. Get your creative juices flowing by experimenting with some healthy versions of traditional dishes, making them your own. Youtube channels such as MiTu, and the free downloadable Latino cookbook Champions for Change can help you prepare healthy food that’ll have your taste buds dancing!
High energy Latin dance styles, such as salsa, merengue, bachata, samba and, of course, zumba, torch calories. Sign up at a local health club for dance classes, or put on your favorite musica and devote 45-60 minutes to moving your body. Dancing helps to reduce blood pressure, eliminate stress and burn calories, with Latin dance styles burning between 600-800 calories in an hour. Studies also show that people who partake in healthy lifestyle habits with friends or family are more likely to stick to them. Invite your amigas out for a fun night of dancing, or sign up for dance class package, holding each other accountable, sharing your culture, and burning some serious stress and calories in the process. If you’re not comfortable dancing, download a few of your favorite English or Spanish songs and try this High Intensity Interval Training, as provided by New Latina. Whether you’re in your dancing shoes or a pair of sneakers, get moving!
Drink To Your Health
Your daily cafecito may also contribute to a healthier body. Women who consume two or more cups of coffee are at a decreased risk for depression, heart disease, skin cancer and Alzheimers. It’s like a delicious little protective perk in a cup. However, specialty coffees with whipped creams, added syrups and added flavors are high in calories, fat and sugar, so try to keep it simple, using skim or low-fat milk, a bit of sugar and good ol’ cafe’.
Healthy habits, like traditions, are passed down from generation to generation. Look to your cultural traditions to help you establish healthy habits, and share them with your family and friends. A healthy lifestyle will lead to a lot more years for you to eat, dance and be merry with those that you love.
Tell us, how does your culture keep you healthy? What are you favorite healthy spins on traditional dishes? Share with us your favorite Spanish or English workout mix! Tell us at @NewLatina and @NLIntern, or comment below.