3 Tips For Ordering Heart-Healthy Mexican Food

Posted on: 7 December 2017

If you have a family history of heart disease or other risk factors for heart disease, one of the first things that a doctor will recommend to help you avoid heart problems in the future is a change in diet. Many people believe that this means sticking to a bland diet and eliminating a lot of the tastier treats from your regular menu. But if you like food with a lot of flavor and spice – like Mexican cuisine – you can still enjoy those foods while maintaining your heart health. Take a look at some tips that will help you order heart-healthy food at a Mexican restaurant like El Molinito Restaurant & Catering.

Swap the Chips and Salsa for Guacamole and Veggies

One of the first things that you'll see on the table at many Mexican restaurants is a plate of chips fried tortilla chips and salsa. You can hang onto the salsa if you want, but ask the server to replace the chips with a platter of raw vegetables instead. Fried tortilla chips contain high levels of sodium and fat, which are bad for your heart health.

While you're at it, ask for a bowl of guacamole to dip your vegetables in. Salsa is a pretty healthy condiment, and you can use that as well, but guacamole contains a major heart health booster: avocados. One study showed that even with an otherwise heart-friendly diet, eating an avocado a day provided a significant reduction in LDL cholesterol (sometimes called bad cholesterol). A diet that included one avocado a day reduced LDL cholesterol by 13.5 mg/dL, compared to a reduction of 8.3 mg/dL on a moderate-fat diet and a reduction of 7.4 mg/dL on a low-fat diet. While experts note that eating guacamole with fried chips can reduce some of the benefits of avocado consumption, eating it with fresh veggies should be a safe way to improve your heart health.

Order Unfried Beans Instead of Refried Beans

Refried beans are pinto beans that are mashed and fried in bacon fat or lard. They aren't as high in fat as you might expect, but if you're worried about your heart health, you probably want to avoid foods cooked in bacon fat or lard. But if you enjoy beans with your Mexican meal, there are several healthier ways to eat them.

For example, you can order frijoles a la charra. These are made with pinto beans as well, so if you enjoy refried beans, you'll probably like these. The beans are served in a savory broth, and they allow you to get the benefits of pinto beans without the unhealthy fat. Pinto beans benefit heart-health in a couple of ways. They contain B vitamins, including B6, which has been shown to lower the risk of cardiovascular disease. They also contain fiber, which is necessary to keep cholesterol levels low. Additionally, pinto beans have potassium in them. Potassium helps regulate the electrical impulses in your muscles and nerves, including those that keep your heart beating properly.

Spice up Your Servings

If you love Mexican food because you love the hot, spicy flavors, you're in luck. Jalapenos and other hot peppers contain a compound called capsaicin that is responsible for the mouth-burning effects of the peppers. However, capsaicin has other uses as well.

Studies suggest that capsaicin reduces both high blood pressure and high cholesterol. It can also help prevent clots from forming in your blood. And capsaicin blocks a gene that causes your arteries to contract. When arteries contract, blood flow is blocked and the lack of blood flow to the heart or brain can cause a heart attack or stroke, so preventing those contractions can help keep you healthy. Don't be afraid to order the dishes that are marked spicy on the menu, and consider asking for jalapenos or chilis to be added to milder dishes – perhaps in place of less heart-healthy additions, like full-fat sour cream.

Eating a heart healthy diet is important, but it doesn't have to be boring or limiting. Within Mexican cuisine, there are plenty of flavorful and tasty dishes that are great for your heart. 


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