The new Latin American Diet Pyramid was created in 1996 by the Oldways, a non-profit organization whose aim is to identify and preserve the world’s healthiest food traditions.
New scientific findings have also been included in the new pyramid – which of course upholds culinary traditions in this part of the world. (Visit http://www.oldwayspt.org/latin_pyramid.html)
The Latin American Diet Pyramid maintains the foods and traditions of the Aztec, Inca, and Maya, as well as the healthy dietary traditions that came with the arrival of Christopher Columbus.
Traditional Latin American diets are rich in grains, corn, tubers (white potatoes, sweet potatoes, taro, cassava, yucca), legumes (beans, peas), fruits (avocado, cacao and cherimoya), and vegetables (sweet peppers, tomatillos, even cactus). Traditional Latin American foods are also big on flavors that are unique to their culture such as cilantro, onion, hot chiles and epazote.
The foundation of the Latin food pyramids also integrates physical activity and enjoying meals with others.
Latin pyramid levels
At the bottom of the Latin Food pyramid are fish and seafood which are recommended twice a week.
Next are poultry, eggs, and low-fat dairy products which are recommended daily to weekly in moderate amounts.
At the very tip are lean meats and sweets, which should be eaten occasionally and in small amounts.
Latin Americans in the US
The Latin American population in the US is growing more quickly than any other group. They currently represent about 15 percent of the population, that figure is expected to swell to about 25 percent by 2050.
Latinos who come to the US usually take up unhealthy American habits such as dining away from home, eating high-fat, high-calorie American foods, and getting very little physical activity. Thus, Latin American have higher rates of obesity – a contributing factor in the development of diseases such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and cancer – than non-Latino whites.
Compared to the typical American fare, Latin American diets are a healthier alternative – something that we can all use.