October is Hispanic Heritage Month, and we celebrate it with traditions, parties, and of course, our delicious food. It is also diabetes awareness month, a disease closely related to our diet. According to data from the American Diabetes Association, 12.8% of the Hispanic community in the United States lives with diabetes, that is why it is so important to be informed and know how to keep the disease under control. For example, it is key to know that the risk of type 2 diabetes is directly linked to lifestyle and eating habits.
Several studies have concluded that the Hispanic population in the United States has a higher percent prevalence of this disease compared to non-Hispanic whites. The results of recently published research even show that percentages vary for different groups of Latino populations., and depending on other factors such as how long they have been living in the country. 16.9 percent of all Hispanics had diabetes, but Mexicans topped the list with 18.3 of their population, followed by Dominicans with 18.1 and Puerto Ricans with 17.1, while Cubans had fewer cases with 13.4. Could it be that the specific dishes of each country influence the increase or decrease of the risk factor? It would be good to investigate, but it is undeniable that the taste of Latin cuisine and the sweetness of its desserts has a lot to do with the causes of type 2 diabetes.
On the site of the American Diabetes Association, you can find many tips to avoid diabetes or control the disease that emphasize the selection of a balanced diet rich in fruits and vegetables. Registered dietitian and nutritionist Marina Chaparro, who also specializes in educating the public about diabetes, teaches you in this video what the “plate method” is, a resource for regulating what we eat.
But you can also use some healthy tricks to not completely give up on our flavors. These are just a few:
Brown rice. Instead of giving up rice, replace it with whole grain or other grains high in dietary fiber that do not sharply raise blood sugar levels.
Agave. Sweeten with this natural syrup instead of using refined sugar or any of the artificial substitutes. Agave syrup is not, as erroneously claimed, a cure for diabetes, but it is a healthier alternative and has a lower glycemic index. But as with any other sweetener, control its consumption.
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Corn tortilla. Whenever you can choose, reject the refined wheat flour tortillas and choose corn or whole flour tortillas. The tacos are not going to be less delicious.
Bread. Whether it's Mexican cakes, Puerto Rican triplets, or Uruguayan chivitos, just to mention three of them, Hispanics love sandwiches. And to avoid or control diabetes, you don't have to give them up, just eat them in moderation and opt for whole grain breads and other more complex flours besides wheat.