Nutritionist Keri Glassman, who regularly shares her expertise on Access Hollywood and Access Hollywood Live, is answering your nutrition, diet and health questions.
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“Cinco de Mayo is one of my favorite holidays, but I can’t help but feel guilty with all of the food and drinks that come along with the celebration - it must be thousands of calories! Is there anything healthy in that Mexican mess of food or is it better I just skip the celebration altogether?” – Sarah G., Stamford, Connecticut
No, don’t skip the celebration! If Cinco de Mayo has you dreaming of fresh salsa and guacamole, frozen margaritas, and piled-high nachos, then you are not alone! The numero uno reason this holiday is enjoyed by so many is because of its festivities featuring indulgent and flavorful Mexican food. Mexican food is often thought of as heavy and calorie-laden, but beneath the layers of fried chips, endless bowls of queso dip, and a hangover’s worth of margaritas, many of these foods are actually healthy for you. Ay Caramba!
Here are some reasons why you can indulge this Cinco de Mayo (and I have even constructed the perfect plan of attack for you):
Holy guacamole! Nothing says party like this delicious dip. With a healthy blend of avocado, tomatoes, cilantro, onions, and garlic, what’s not to L-O-V-E? Don’t be afraid of the fat in these green goodies. It is the healthy fat that helps to burn belly fat and keeps you satisfied. Speaking of satisfied, did you know avocadoes contained fiber too? You can think of a tomato as a treasure chest full of antioxidants including vitamin C, beta-carotene and lycopene. And, cilantro has some of this same antioxidant power. Research has shown that onions may be beneficial in helping lower cholesterol and triglycerides and garlic contains the compound allicin, which fights infection and bacteria.
Fun tidbit: In a study of garlic eaters vs. non-garlic eaters, those who consumed garlic were two thirds less likely to catch a cold!
Eat it this way: Before you get your fiesta started with a heaping bowl of guac, remember that you can reap the bundle of benefits mentioned above in just a small amount. 1/2 cup of guacamole is 240 calories, so try to eat in control!
Why muck up all that good healthy guac with chips? You don’t have to! Instead, ask for a side of corn tortillas (aka the non-fried version of chips) and reap their health benefits. Because corn tortillas are made solely from corn flour and water, they are much simpler and more wholesome than the flour alternative. The main ingredient, corn, makes them high in B vitamins such as thiamin and niacin and vitamin A, and vitamin C. Ole to energy, fighting wrinkles and the common cold.
Eat it this way: Order your corn tortillas to pair with your guacamole, and you’re on your way to livin’ la vida healthy! 2 6-inch corn tortillas are 90 calories. 2 corn tortillas + 1/2 cup guacamole= 330 calories.
We all know that little ditty, “beans beans they’re good for your heart…” and there most definitely is truth to that statement! Eating black beans regularly may lower your risk of developing heart disease due to their being loaded with antioxidants and fiber. You won’t miss the protein from steak fajitas because beans have it too! Consuming beans regularly may decrease your risk of diabetes and colorectal cancer, as well as aid in weight maintenance.
Eat it this way: So now we have our fiberific guacamole, vitamin-rich corn tortillas, and our beany punch of protein. 1/2 cup of black beans is 90 calories. 2 corn tortillas + 1/2 cup black beans + 1/2 cup guacamole= 420 calories.
That plate is looking pretty good, but I’m getting a little thirsty.
Nothing says fiesta like tequila! But when that tequila is sipped in the form of a neon-colored, sweet, frozen treat, it can cost you upwards of 500 calories! If you were to have just tequila on the rocks with lime, you could save yourself approximately 400 calories. Steering clear of the frozen margarita eliminates the sugar and lets you put those cals to better use elsewhere.
Eat it this way: To keep the math going here, 1 shot (1.5 ounces) of tequila is 96 calories. 1 shot of tequila + 2 corn tortillas + 1/2 cup black beans + 1/2 cup guacamole= 516 calories.
So there you have it! This Cinco de Mayo, you can indulge and feel good. Go for the guac inside your corn tortillas and stuff them with heart-healthy black beans, and even add some fiberful veggies; bonus points if you add pico de gallo for more tomatoes (hello, lycopene!). Pour yourself a shot of tequila on ice and add a lime, pair with many glasses of water, and you’re set.
Don your sombrero and join in the fun!
-- Terri MacLeod & Keri Glassman
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