HEALTH

Latin Powerfoods that will make you feel good

A chef holds a variety of vegetables and peppers picked from the garden at The Blue Water Grill in Grand Rapids, Michigan.  (AP Photo/Adam Bird)

A chef holds a variety of vegetables and peppers picked from the garden at The Blue Water Grill in Grand Rapids, Michigan. (AP Photo/Adam Bird)

Feel better, look better. All you have to do is eat seven foods recommended by Dr. Manny. 

The foods, which have antioxidants, helps you eliminate bad oils and implement good ones -- a process called detoxification.

What does this mean? Well, basically, every human cell takes food, burns it, creates waste, and then discards it. We all generate cellular by-products. 

However, when the cell doesn’t get rid of waste, we become less efficient. And when the waste is contaminated, it is difficult to eliminate. What we want is to have our cells metabolize effectively. Toxins don’t allow cells to work well. In order for us to lose weight, our cells must be working well. That’s why antioxidants, proteins, and good oils become important when you start to talk dieting and health. 

That’s also why when we see news reports about lowering cancer rates, they’re always—if you notice—linked with balanced diets. At the end of the day, cancers, aside from being genetically derived, are derived from cellular toxicity from poor diets and habits (like smoking and drinking)

The good news about all this is that you can eliminate a lot of the toxins in your body—and your body will respond relatively quickly. Consider this example using one of the most toxic activities people do to themselves: smoke. Did you know that if you quit smoking—even after twenty years of doing it—your body will immediately change? In fact, even after one hour of not smoking, the oxygen content in your cells is significantly higher! Now if your body responds that quickly to stopping one of the most detrimental toxins from invading it, you can recognize that a change in the body’s diet is also going to have immediate, beneficial effects.

Let’s look further into the seven Latin powerfoods and their subcategories and learn about their immediate effects on our bodies.

TOMATILLOS
These flavorful and unique small yellow-green tomatoes pack a lot more nutrients than regular red tomatoes. Used throughout Mexico and available now here in the States, tomatillos are rich in vitamins C, A, and folic acid, as well as potassium. They are a great source for your daily antioxidant needs.

GARBANZO BEANS
These delicious beans are very high in fiber, which will improve your elimination cycles and support the growth of healthy intestinal flora. They are very low in natural sugar content, and high in complex carbohydrate content and protein, giving you a steady source of high-quality fuel for balanced energy throughout your day. They also have a warming effect on your body and a calming effect on your mind. Garbanzo beans are used in cooking throughout Latin America and the Caribbean.

AVOCADO
Do not let the “high” fat content of avocados deter you from eating this fantastic fruit. In fact, the healthy monounsaturated oil in avocado will help you feel satiated after a meal and signal your body to burn more fat stores, as well as lower your bad cholesterol and raise your good cholesterol! Avocado also helps lubricate your intestines and assists in regulating your elimination cycles. Avocados are grown, and consumed, throughout the Americas.

GARLIC
Use garlic as often as you can in your cooking. Garlic is well known for its immune-boosting and antimicrobial properties. It also helps lower bad cholesterol. A clove of garlic a day can keep the doctor away! You will benefit from improved blood circulation as well as a stronger libido. The Spanish, Portuguese, and French are credited with introducing this powerfood to the New World, where it is now a ubiquitous ingredient.

CINNAMON
A half teaspoon a day of cinnamon can lower sugar levels in your blood, and studies show that cinnamon can aid in the prevention of diabetes. Cinnamon is also high in antioxidants, not to mention flavor. You can sprinkle cinnamon on fruits or whole grains instead of sugar for a delicious treat. You will also benefit from its sensually warming and cholesterol-lowering qualities. First used medicinally in Egypt and India and in parts of Europe since about 500 BC, this spice is now part of many Latin American and Caribbean cuisines.

CHILES
You can use chiles as often as you wish in your dishes for flavor and for health. Chiles of all types, like chipotle and other hot chiles, are high in minerals and antioxidants, giving a healthy boost to your immune system. Another interesting note about this powerfood is that although it is hot to taste, it actually has a cooling effect on your body. Blood rushes to the periphery of your body in response to the hot taste, and then the blood cools down before moving more to the center of your body, where your temperature is higher. That is why Latinos in hot tropical countries instinctively eat hot and spicy foods. Though many equate chiles with Mexico, they can be found in varied colors and shapes, as well as all different degrees of hotness, throughout Latin America and the Caribbean.

CILANTRO
Cilantro accelerates the excretion of toxic metals from your body. Excess toxic metals in the body can create a breeding ground for viral infections, so using cilantro on a daily basis in your cooking is a very smart choice for staying healthy. All you need is a handful in a salad or a couple of tablespoons in a cooked dish to reap the benefits of this medicinal plant. This herb—and its cousin, culantro—is used throughout the Americas.

Aside from these seven Latin powerfoods, there is a great assortment of others that fall under the same categories. These powerfoods contain a myriad of options offering benefits similar to the ones I’ve mentioned. If you’re looking for more variety—which is one of the main advantages of following a Latin diet—look at the powerfood categories below. You’ll see where each of the seven Latin powerfoods falls within the food groups and what other similar foods you can work with. Be creative! More color means more nutrients. By combining these healthy and natural Latin ingredients, you’ll be sure to optimize their effects!

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