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In 2017, it was reported that more than 30 million U.S. adults were living with diabetes according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Unfortunately, Hispanics are disproportionately affected—of those diagnosed, Latinos make up almost 13 percent. In fact, Puerto Ricans alone are 1.8 times more likely than Caucasians to develop diabetes, and it is estimated that 25-30 percent of Hispanics over the age of 50 are diabetic.
The good news is that healthy eating is an easy way to help manage and even prevent diabetes. For Puerto Ricans, or anyone with a rich traditional cuisine, facing diabetes can be challenging. But, a healthy diet doesn’t need to be boring and tasteless.
Cooking healthy Puerto Rican food doesn’t mean you can’t cook traditional meals, just skip the bad-for-you ingredients and preparation. Here are four ways to make Puerto Rican food diabetes friendly:
1. Opt for brown rice – start making your arroz con gandules with brown rice instead of white. It’s a delicious alternative and doesn’t change the flavor, although the texture will be slightly different. It does take longer to cook, so don’t forget to factor that in.
2. Make a salad – Enjoy your meals with the accompaniment of a salad. Salads are a quick and easy way to add fresh leafy vegetables to your plate. You can add fruits or nuts to make a delicious salad with strawberries, apples, walnuts or almonds.
3. Bake instead of fry – Tostones are great, but they’re often deep fried in a lot of oil. Try baking plaintains instead of frying them for an alternative that is still delicious without the added cholesterol.
4. Keep the root vegetables – Puerto Rican cuisine features root vegetables that are highly nutritious; yuca, batata, ñame, yautia, plantain and yams. Keep these on the menu, try to boil or bake them when you can and incorporate them into more meals; just make sure you’re not covering them in too much oil.