Mexican cuisine is considered to be among the most delicious in the world and is honored on the UNESCO Intangible Heritage List as an international treasure. But, traditional Mexican food is also known for its richness and high-calorie content.
The combination of high-calorie tradition Mexican foods, along with many high-calorie fast foods that are now available, have led to Mexico’s population being among the most obese in the world. According to the World Health Organization’s Country Profile on Mexico, over 67% of Mexican men and 69% of women are overweight, and 26% of men and 37% of women are obese.
In fact, the whole world is getting fat! Since 1980, worldwide obesity has more than doubled for adults and tripled for children. According to the World Health Organization, overweight and obesity are the fifth leading risk for global deaths. About 65% of the world’s population lives in countries where overweight and obesity kill more people than underweight and at least 2.8 million adults die each year as a result of being overweight or obese. More than 40 million children under the age of five were overweight in 2010. Obesity is preventable.
Now, there is a healthy food revolution going on! The new trend in Mexican cuisine is towards the preparation of more health-conscious foods.
“For a long time, the objective of high gastronomy was aesthetic, but recently it has developed into a trend in favor of health and care of the body,” says Mexican Chef Enrique Olvera, who is considered to be one of the 10 most prominent chefs in the world (El Financiero, 5-20-11). “Chefs must respect your health and demonstrate care for it. The chef knows the menu and part of our responsibility must be to assist the nutrition to better ensure healthy eating.”
To achieve a more health-conscious menu, Mexican chefs now create plates that contain proteins and have low grease content with lots of vegetables. More health-conscious plates use many of the classic Mexican ingredients like corn, mushrooms, cabbage, beans, squash and chilies along with a mix of aromatic herbs. Fresh tropical fruits, fish and sea foods are also used for healthier plates.
“In Mexican food we have a lot of ingredients with low calories and we have to take advantage of them by preparing them in a way that is good for your health,” says Chef Olvera. Herbs are very important to bring out the flavor in the foods.
High-quality products and appropriate portions are also important for healthier eating. Many restaurants serve such extravagant portions that they provoke heaviness in a person rather than a feeling of good life. So, for better eating, cut down on the portions of food.
Chefs are also becoming more environmentally conscious too and take great care to select providers that do not use insecticides and that grow their products with clean water. Many restaurants in Ixtapa and Zihuatanejo now advertise the fact that their foods come fresh from local suppliers and producers. Fish and sea food are caught right in the Zihuatanejo Bay.
So, continue to enjoy that great Mexican fiesta – just with more vegetables, smaller portions and a low calorie beer!