Cardiologist Dr. Juan Jose Rivera is the Chief Medical Advisor for Univision channel nation wide and appears regularly throughout Univision News programming. Dr. Rivera hosts two weekly health segments within Univision’s top-rated newsmagazine “Primer Impacto” (First Impact). In addition, he consults on a variety of medical and scientific topics, as well as reports on the latest medical news and breakthroughs for all Univision News programs, including the national newscast “Noticiero Univision,” (Univision News) the primetime newsmagazine “Aquí y Ahora” (Here and Now), and the Sunday morning public affairs program “Al Punto” (To the Point).
When asked about the pros and cons of the Latino diet the Director of Cardiovascular Prevention for Mount Sinai Hospital in Miami Beach said “Unfortunately not many pros.” “When we talk about the Latino community we are one of the communities with the highest prevalence of obesity and childhood obesity and part of that is our diet.”
Not only are Latinos at higher risk of obesity but also diabetes and heart disease. Some ways Dr. Rivera says we can control those risks is by eating less red meat, less sugar and avoiding refined carbohydrates such as white rice and white bread. “We now know that red meat has a lot of saturated fat that is not good for our heart. It increases the risk of heart disease and diabetes,” says Dr. Rivera. He suggests instead of red meat to eat more fish, chicken, and turkey because they have omega 3 which has good fat. The more colorful the plate the better! Add vegetables and fruits to your daily meals.
Dr. Rivera highly recommends staying away from refined carbohydrates like white read white rice, white pasta and white bread. “We should be doing everything whole wheat.” “It is important because it decreases the blood sugar levels.” It might take a little getting used to but whole wheat is a much healthier option.
When it comes to food Latinos love fried food! But unfortunately fried food is high in cholesterol and high in triglycerides which is not good for your heart and blood pressure. When eating out you are probably getting a lot of salt, a lot of carbohydrates and a lot of fat with your meal. Dr. Rivera wants us to avoid fast food and eating out because we don’t know what is being placed in our food. “Going back to our roots and cooking at home is healthier because you can control that environment, he adds.
Some Latinos have a sweet tooth which increases the risk of diabetes. Dr. Rivera gave us some personal advice when looking for something sweet to eat. “When I feel the need for dessert I either drink coffee or have Greek yogurt with some fruit.” For those who prefer salt, The American Heart Association doesn’t want you to consume more than 1500 milligrams of sodium per day otherwise it increases the risk of high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease and obesity.
When grocery shopping reading the nutritional labels is extremely important. “If you read something that says low fat, no fat, no sugar, don’t believe it. Go to the nutritional label and that’s where the truth is,” says Rivera. There are a lot of processed foods found in the supermarket so read those labels!
Eating a lot of vegetables, fruits and grains are important to having a healthier lifestyle. Dr. Rivera claims “It’s not easy but its doable.”