Mexican food, like any other type of food, is only as healthy as you make it. While most Americans think Mexican and conjure up images of cheese soaked nachos and deep fried quesadillas, the truth of the matter is these foods would be largely unknown in authentic Mexican restaurants. Football sized burritos are no more Mexican than a hamburger is. If you are looking to augment your Mexican dishes in order to make them a bit healthier, opt for these six staple ingredients hailing from authentic Mexican dishes.
1. Avocados- Although this creamy nut can be abused when made into guacamole, turning into a calorie laden paste, avocados are rich in heart healthy nutrients that do a body proud. Furthermore, avocados contain monounsaturated fat oleic acid which helps lower the count of harmful cholesterol. Avocados may also be potent cancer fighters in addition to being rich in vitamin E.
2. Cilantro- While usually seen mainly as a garnish, cilantro is high in phytonutrients, flavonoids and active phenolic acid compounds. These complicated terms essentially mean the cilantro can help lower your blood sugar, reduce your cholesterol levels and help reduce inflammation.
3. Chili Peppers- Mexican food is few things without its well known spice. Chili peppers are rich in a compound called capsaicin. This wonder drug not only is an effective fat burner but can also fight inflammation and improve your vascular health. Furthermore, capsaicin also helps curb appetite. Ingesting capsaicin helps trigger your stomach to send signals to your brain, telling it is full, sooner. This prevents you from eating too much grub should your appetite be more than ravenous.
4. Beans- The unsung heroes of Mexican cuisine, beans come in many varieties. The commonly used black and pinto beans are augmented with loads of kidney and fava beans and lentils. Beans are ubiquitous. While often operating as a side dish in Mexican cuisine, beans are equally cut out to be main dishes in their own right or a delicious filling for an enchilada or taco. All varieties of beans are rich in fiber, an essential ingredient for digestive health and weight loss that also helps you feel fuller longer. Beans are also rich in antioxidants, potent little particles that help root out free radicals and fight off any of the effects of aging.
5. Tomatoes- Beloved by many world cuisines besides Mexican La Gringa Bar and Grill, the health benefits of tomatoes are plain to see. In addition to being flavorful, low in calories, fat and carbohydrates, tomatoes are rich in lycopene. This compound is a potent anti inflammatory agent but also has benefits that extend to protecting cellular integrity, augmenting blood flow and fighting off cancerous cells and growths.
6. Papaya- Perhaps not a well known staple in American-Mexican cuisine, papaya is a popular desert or garnish in Mexico that is loaded with vitamins, fiber and also works to protect your heart’s health and fight against colon cancer.