Happy Cinco de Mayo to You and Your Health!
The holiday of Cinco de Mayo celebrates Mexican pride and heritage and is a great excuse to enjoy some delicious (and often spicy) food. Not only are Mexican dishes yummy, but many of them also pack quite a healthy punch . . . along with oodles of flavor!
Real Mexican Food vs. Restaurant Mexican Food
If you’re thinking that those gooey cheese-covered dishes you get at your favorite local Mexican restaurant or taco shop seem anything but healthy, chances are you’re right! Many Americanized establishments use processed ingredients and fillers (Taco Bell, anyone?) to make their dishes. But authentic Mexican meals revolve around the foods that are available locally in Mexico, which are mostly fish and fresh fruits and vegetables. This makes authentic Mexican food much higher in nutrients and much lower in fat and calories, but still very flavorful and delicious.
The following three Mexican staples are full of health benefits and tasty treats to boot. See how you can incorporate these into your diet this Cinco de Mayo . . . and any other day for that matter.
Forget the prepackaged guacamole you find at the grocery store or the stuff served in restaurants! You can make your own guacamole at home that’s just as tasty (but way better for you) using avocado, lemon juice, hot pepper, and a dash of chili powder. Avocados contain high amounts of “good fat” which can help lower your cholesterol. Not only that, but avocadoes are also known for their anti-cancer benefits. And chili powder can give your metabolism an extra boost.
Salsa is one of the healthiest Mexican foods around because it’s not only low in fat, but also a great way to get some extra veggies into your diet. Making your own at home allows you to control the amount of sodium that goes into salsa—one of the big downsides of the pre-made kind. Salsa is high in antioxidants, vitamins, and potassium thanks to the tomatoes, cilantro, peppers and other nutrient-rich ingredients such as garlic and onion.
While eating refried beans may not be the best option, you can still enjoy a bean dish with “Mexican flair” so you get all of the flavor and the health benefits. Try adding salsa, onions and a little chili powder to pinto beans or black beans. Beans are high in fiber and excellent sources of protein and iron. Plus, all that fiber makes them especially filling so you’re less likely to overindulge . . . which is obviously great for your waistline.