Jamaican grown fruit and vegetables are a good source of different minerals, vitamins and numerous nutrients. However, other parts of a Jamaican diet isn’t always that healthy.
Nowadays we are trying to be healthier in what we eat and drink. A lot of West Indian food can be high in salt and fat. We are looking to eat less fat and salt, whilst eating more fibrous food and complex carbohydrates, as well as less calories.
So how can we reach these goals? My parents doctor tends to promote local western foods rather than the West Indian ones. They know more about the health benefits of western food, rather than West Indian food. When suggesting what’s good for you, they will probably only mention whole grain cereals, fruits like apples, plums and grapes and vegetables like broccoli, spinach and cauliflower.
Let’s compare some alternatives:
Guava as an alternative to American Apples
An apple a day keeps the doctor away! That’s the saying which we all know. Apples are fibre rich which help to clean out the gut and get rid of waste. However, this is nothing compared to a Guava fruit which not only has 4 times the amount of fibre compared to your average apple, but 19 times the amount of vitamin C and slightly more potassium. The West Indian cherry has about 15 times more vitamin C content than an apple. As for your average bunch of grapes, the guava has 25 times more vitamin C and 4 times the fibre.
Coconut juice as an alternative to cranberry juice
With the health benefits for your bladder, cranberry juice has become a popular choice. The down side to this is that the average glass of cranberry juice will have about 150 to 200 calories, and about 60mg of potassium. Compare this to the same amount of coconut water, at about 50 calories and 400mg of potassium.
The sodium content of a glass of coconut water is only about 60mg, compared to 700mg in an average can of tinned vegetables. There is no fat in coconut water; the fat of the coconut is stored in the jelly flesh. As it is a plant there will be no cholesterol in the fat anyway. Butter made from cows milk will have cholesterol in it, but coconut milk is cholesterol free. It is better to cook with coconut milk for flavouring rather than margarine as a teaspoon of coconut milk has 38 calories and 4g fat compared to 111 calories and 11.5g of fat in margarine.
Ackee & avocado pear as an alternative to olive oil
We buy lots of expensive olive oil to ensure that we only get monounsaturated fat. But did you know that you can get the same benefits from Jamaican ackee and the avocado pear. In fact the avocado is known as a super food and it is said that it is possible to get all the nutrients that your body needs from just eating avocadoes.
Callaloo as an alternative to broccoli and cauliflower
With the vitamin C, minerals and flavonoids content, it is hard to beat the benefits of vegetables such as broccoli, cauliflowers and Brussel sprouts. But the calcium, iron and vitamin A content doesn’t compare to that contained in callaloo. In fact, it has 4 times the calcium and more than twice the amount of Vitamin A and iron than these common vegetables.
Wholegrain cereals are a very good source of fibre, but West Indian versions are just as good as those.
Brown rice, whole kernel corn and Irish potatoes give you the least fibre per serving. Wheat bread, green banana and sweet potato have more, providing 105g of fibre per serving, with about 70 calories in it.
Breadfruit as an alternative to rolled oats
Rolled oats can provide about 1.96g of fibre per serving, but this is dwarfed by our local breadfruit, which comes in at 2.45g per two slice serving.
So next time you go out to look for these healthy foods, don’t forget the local West Indian produce are more than good enough, and in some cases even better!