5 Star Ingredients of Latin Food with a Healthy Side

The ingredients that make frequent appearances in the many variations of Latin cuisine are not only delicious, they can also provide numerous health benefits.

Guava

One delicious guava provides 37 calories, 3 grams of fiber and has twice the daily recommended dose of vitamin C. It’s also rich in potassium and phosphorus. Guava is also packed with the phytochemical quercetin, which may help reduce inflammation.

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Bobby_Flay_Fit_Fish_Tacos.tif

Bobby Flay's Fish Tacos

Photo by: Matt Armendariz ©Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Matt Armendariz, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Cilantro

Fresh herbs tend to be very low in calories and cilantro is no exception. One-quarter cup of fresh cilantro has only 1 calorie, but it’s brimming with folate and vitamins A, C and K.

Recipe: Fish Tacos

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RICE_BEANS_008.tif

Food Stylist: Jamie KimmProp Stylist: Marina Malchin

Photo by: Antonis Achilleos Prop Stylist: Marina Malchin 917 751 2855

Antonis Achilleos Prop Stylist: Marina Malchin 917 751 2855

Beans

This legume is widely used in Latin cuisine. Beans are rich in both protein and fiber. They’re also an excellent source of potassium, folate and magnesium and a good source of calcium, iron and zinc. The darker beans, like black beans, are rich in anthocyanins, one of the most powerful anti-inflammatory antioxidants.

Chiles

Spicy peppers such as jalapeno, serrano and habanero contain a chemical called capsicum. The more capsicum a pepper has, the hotter it is. Capsicum may help decrease inflammation.

Recipe: Mango Salsa

Photo by: Jessica Suworoff ©©2014 DRAFT Magazine, All Rights Reserved.

Jessica Suworoff, ©2014 DRAFT Magazine, All Rights Reserved.

Garlic

One clove of garlic has fewer than 5 calories and provides B vitamins and calcium. Garlic also contains the phytochemical allicin, found to help fight bacteria. Some research has found an association between garlic and heart health.

Toby Amidor, MS, RD, CDN, is a registered dietitian and consultant who specializes in food safety and culinary nutrition. She is the author of The Greek Yogurt Kitchen: More Than 130 Delicious, Healthy Recipes for Every Meal of the Day.

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