Eating Right For Hispanic Americans

The Importance of Eating Right for Hispanic Americans

by Sylvia Melendes, MS, RD, LDN, CPT


We all know that it is a good idea to eat correctly, but why is this so important? A well-balanced diet provides energy and nutrition to keep your body in optimal health. This includes not only eating an appropriate amount of fat, carbohydrate, and protein, but also meeting vitamin, mineral, and water needs.


A healthy diet can help prevent chronic diseases including obesity, heart disease, cancer, high blood pressure and diabetes. The World Health Organization has published a very surprising statistic related to unhealthy eating. They stated that over 2.7 million deaths worldwide could be contributed to a lack of fruit and vegetable consumption. This is a significant number of deaths, which could have potentially been prevented through better food choices and food availability.


Eating a healthful diet is especially important for Hispanics because this group is at a higher risk for many chronic diseases. For example, Mexican Americans are twice as likely as non-Hispanic whites to be diagnosed with diabetes. Hispanic people are 1.5 times as likely to develop kidney disease related to diabetes and are more likely to die from diabetes-related causes.


Hispanic people are less likely than non-Hispanic white people to have high blood pressure. However, the 20% of people over 18 that do have high blood pressure are less likely to control this condition. High blood pressure is a significant risk factor for stroke. It should be taken seriously and treated with appropriate medication and a healthful diet.


High cholesterol and triglyceride levels are other diet-related condition that affects many Hispanic Americans. Approximately 16% of Mexican Americans have high cholesterol levels. Diets high in cholesterol strongly contribute to this health condition. High cholesterol and triglycerides should be monitored and addressed through diet and medication (if needed) because these conditions contribute to heart disease.


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