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Foods to Consider or Avoid for Cinco de Mayo

Published on May 05, 2023 | 11:01 AM

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Looking forward to celebrating Cinco de Mayo 2024? While this festive holiday is a great opportunity to indulge in delicious Mexican cuisine, it's important to keep your health in mind too. From filling lean meats to flavorful veggies and refreshing drinks, there are plenty of healthy options to enjoy on this special day. In this blog post, we'll explore some tips and tricks for making your Cinco de Mayo celebration both delicious and nutritious.

Healthy options for Cinco de Mayo

Agua fresca: Agua fresca is a refreshing and healthy drink that can be a great choice for Cinco de Mayo. Unlike many other sweetened beverages, agua fresca is typically made with fresh fruit, water, and a touch of sweeteners like honey or agave. This means it's lower in calories and sugar compared to soda, juice, or alcoholic drinks. Plus, the fruit in agua fresca provides vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants that can help support a healthy immune system and prevent chronic diseases. Some popular agua fresca flavors include watermelon, cucumber, and hibiscus, all of which are hydrating and packed with nutrients. By choosing agua fresca as your drink of choice on Cinco de Mayo, you can stay hydrated, satisfy your thirst, and enjoy a delicious and healthy beverage that's perfect for the occasion.

Barbacoa: Barbacoa is a traditional Mexican dish that typically consists of slow-cooked beef or lamb that's been seasoned with spices like cumin, garlic, and chili powder. While it may seem indulgent, barbacoa can actually be a healthy option for Cinco de Mayo when paired with nutritious sides like roasted vegetables or a side salad. Slow-cooking the meat helps to tenderize it and makes it easier to digest, while the spices provide flavor and additional health benefits. For example, cumin is rich in antioxidants and has anti-inflammatory properties, while garlic can help lower blood pressure and improve heart health. By enjoying barbacoa in moderation and pairing it with nutritious sides, you can savor the rich flavors of this classic Mexican dish while also nourishing your body with healthy and wholesome ingredients.

Fajitas: Fajitas are a classic Mexican dish that can be a healthy option for Cinco de Mayo if you choose the right ingredients. Fajitas usually consists of grilled or sautéed meat (like chicken, beef, or shrimp), onions, and bell peppers served on a tortilla. The vegetables used in fajitas provide fiber, vitamins, and minerals, while the protein from the meat is packed with essential amino acids. To make fajitas even healthier, you can opt for lean cuts of meat and use whole-wheat tortillas instead of the regular ones to add more fiber. You can also add more vegetables to the mix, like sliced zucchini, mushrooms, or spinach, to increase the nutritional value and fiber content. Another healthy tip is to use fresh herbs like cilantro instead of high-fat toppings like sour cream and cheese. By choosing healthy ingredients and controlling your portion sizes, you can enjoy fajitas that are both delicious and nutritious.

Guacamole: Guacamole is a classic Mexican dip that is both tasty and healthy. Made from mashed avocados, lime juice, and spices like garlic, cumin, and chili powder, guacamole is packed with healthy fats, fiber, and vitamins. Avocados, the main ingredient in guacamole, are loaded with monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats that can help reduce inflammation, lower cholesterol levels, and improve heart health. Additionally, avocados are a good source of fiber and potassium, which can help regulate blood pressure and promote digestive health. When served with whole-grain chips or raw veggies like carrots or bell peppers, guacamole can be a great snack or appetizer option that's both satisfying and nourishing. 

Horchata: Horchata is a popular Mexican drink that is both delicious and nutritious. Made from rice, almonds, cinnamon, and sugar, horchata is a refreshing and creamy drink that can be a great alternative to sugary sodas or alcoholic drinks on Cinco de Mayo. While it contains sugar, you can make a healthier version of horchata by using natural sweeteners like honey or maple syrup and reducing the amount of sugar used. The rice and almonds in horchata provide fiber and protein, while the cinnamon has been shown to have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. Additionally, horchata is naturally lactose-free, making it a great option for people who are lactose intolerant or avoid dairy products. By enjoying a cold glass of horchata on Cinco de Mayo, you can quench your thirst, satisfy your sweet tooth, and reap the nutritional benefits of this tasty drink.

Tacos: One of the most popular foods in the United States, you cannot go wrong with tacos on Cico de Mayo. Corn tortillas, which are traditionally used for tacos, are a good source of fiber and lower in calories compared to flour tortillas. When it comes to fillings, you can choose lean proteins like grilled chicken or fish, or plant-based options like black beans or roasted vegetables. These fillings are rich in nutrients like protein, fiber, and antioxidants, and can help keep you feeling full and satisfied. Additionally, toppings like salsa, guacamole, and fresh herbs can add flavor and nutrition to your tacos without adding excess calories or unhealthy fats. 

What foods to avoid on Cinco de Mayo

Beer: While beer is a popular alcoholic beverage often associated with Cinco de Mayo, it's important to consider the potential negative impacts it can have on your health. Beer is high in calories and carbohydrates, which can contribute to weight gain and blood sugar imbalances. Additionally, excessive alcohol consumption can lead to dehydration, impaired judgment, and a higher risk of accidents or injuries. For people with certain health conditions, such as liver disease, alcohol consumption can be particularly harmful. Moreover, drinking beer can also exacerbate digestive issues such as acid reflux, bloating, and gas. 

Burritos: Burritos are a popular Mexican dish that is often loaded with high-calorie and high-fat ingredients, making it a less healthy option for Cinco de Mayo. Most burritos contain rice, beans, cheese, sour cream, and meat, all of which can add up to a high calorie and fat content. While beans are a good source of fiber and protein, the other ingredients in a burrito can be high in saturated fat, sodium, and cholesterol. Additionally, the large size of burritos can lead to overeating, which can cause digestive discomfort and weight gain. To make a healthier version of a burrito, consider using lean proteins like grilled chicken or shrimp, using whole-grain tortillas, and loading up on veggies like peppers, onions, and lettuce. Additionally, skip high-fat toppings like cheese and sour cream and opt for healthier options like salsa, avocado, or cilantro. By making these simple swaps and controlling your portion sizes, you can still enjoy a tasty and satisfying burrito without compromising your health.

Chimichangas: Chimichangas are a deep-fried burrito popular in Tex-Mex cuisine that is often high in calories and unhealthy fats, making it a less healthy option for Cinco de Mayo. Chimichangas are typically filled with meat, beans, cheese, and sour cream, all of which can contribute to a high calorie and fat content. Moreover, the deep-frying process can make the chimichanga even more calorie-dense and can lead to the formation of harmful compounds called acrylamides. Acrylamides are formed when starchy foods are cooked at high temperatures, and they have been linked to an increased risk of cancer and other health problems. To make a healthier version of a chimichanga, consider baking it instead of deep-frying it and using lean protein sources like grilled chicken. Also, try using whole-grain tortillas, increasing the amount of veggies in the filling, and reducing the amount of cheese and sour cream used. By making these simple swaps and choosing a healthier cooking method, you can still enjoy a delicious chimichanga without compromising your health.

Enchiladas: Enchiladas are a popular Mexican dish that is often high in calories and fat, making it a less healthy option for Cinco de Mayo. Most enchiladas are made with tortillas filled with meat, cheese, and topped with a rich and creamy sauce. These ingredients can add up to a high calorie and fat content, making it a less healthy option for your Cinco de Mayo celebration. Moreover, the creamy sauce used in enchiladas can be high in saturated fat and sodium, which can increase the risk of heart disease, high blood pressure, and other health problems. To make a healthier version of enchiladas, consider using lean protein sources like shredded chicken or black beans, and replacing the creamy sauce with a tomato-based sauce. Additionally, use whole-grain tortillas and increase the amount of veggies in the filling to boost the fiber and nutrient content. By making these simple swaps, you can still enjoy a tasty and satisfying enchilada while keeping your health in check.

Margaritas: Margaritas are a popular alcoholic beverage that is often consumed during Cinco de Mayo celebrations, but they can be high in calories and sugar, making it a less healthy option. Most margaritas contain tequila, lime juice, and triple sec, which are all high in calories and sugar. The addition of sweet and sour mix, simple syrup, or fruit juices can make the drink even more calorie-dense and sugary. Moreover, consuming too much alcohol can lead to dehydration, impaired judgment, and other health problems. Drinking too much alcohol can also lead to weight gain and contribute to the development of chronic diseases like liver disease, diabetes, and high blood pressure. To enjoy a healthier version of a margarita, consider making your own using fresh lime juice, agave nectar, and tequila. You can also use a sugar-free sweetener or swap out the triple sec for flavored sparkling water to reduce the calorie and sugar content. 

Queso: Queso, also known as cheese dip, is a popular appetizer often served during Cinco de Mayo celebrations, but it can be high in calories and saturated fat, making it a less healthy option. Most queso recipes are made with processed cheese, which is high in sodium, unhealthy fats, and artificial ingredients. Additionally, the chips and other dipping options that are often served with queso can also add up to a high calorie and fat content. Consuming too much saturated fat can increase the risk of heart disease, high cholesterol, and other health problems. To make a healthier version of queso, consider using natural cheese, like cheddar or Monterey Jack, and adding in veggies like tomatoes, onions, and peppers to increase the nutrient content. Additionally, choose baked chips or veggies as dipping options to reduce the calorie and fat content. 

Stay healthy this Cinco de Mayo!

As Cinco de Mayo 2024 approaches, it's important to keep in mind the impact that certain foods can have on your health. While it's certainly okay to indulge in some of your favorite traditional Mexican dishes, moderation is key. By choosing healthier options and avoiding foods that can be high in calories, sodium, and saturated fat, you can enjoy a delicious and nutritious Cinco de Mayo celebration. We hope that these tips have helped you make informed choices when it comes to planning your menu for this festive holiday. So go ahead, enjoy some flavorful tacos and fresh guacamole, and make this Cinco de Mayo a celebration to remember!

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Wayne C. Hahne,

English graduate and Call-On-Doc’s medical resource guide, Wayne C. Hahne is an experienced and passionate medical education content expert. Through diligent research, provider interviews and utilizing the industry's leading resources for wellness information, it is Mr. Hahne’s personal mission to educate the general public on medical conditions with in-depth and easy-to-understand written guides.

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