Ways to Include Caribbean Foods in Your Lipid-Lowering Diet

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Caribbean cuisine is influenced by many different countries in the Caribbean, including Cuba, Jamaica, and the Dominican Republic. The culinary traditions in these countries were influenced by individuals traveling to the Caribbean from the Middle East, Eastern Asia, Africa, and Europe – resulting in a unique blend of flavors that persists today. Caribbean-inspired dishes contain many types of vegetables, fruit, fish, legumes, and spices – such as cloves, nutmeg, marjoram, sweet basil, and cumin – all of which are healthy ingredients to include if you are watching your lipid levels.

Unfortunately, there are some preparation methods and foods included in Caribbean cuisine that may add extra saturated fat and calories to your lipid-lowering diet. These tips and recipes will show you how to enjoy this delicious cuisine if you are watching your cholesterol and triglyceride levels.

Delicious Soups and Stews

Caribbean soups and stews are hearty and are chock-full of many nutrients that can sometimes fill you up before the main course comes along. Caribbean inspired soups contain many types of beans, vegetables, chickpeas, rice and certain types of proteins. Garlic, celery, spinach, peppers, tomatoes, onions and sweet potatoes are just a few of the many vegetables used in soups and stews. Chicken and fish are two types of lean proteins that are commonly added; however, some types of meat - such as ham, beef, and sausage – may be also be included. These types of meat are higher in saturated fat and should be limited if you are watching your lipid levels.

Caribbean Inspired Sides

Side dishes found in Caribbean cuisine may mostly contain varieties of whole grain rice and legumes – all of which are high in fiber and can help keep your lipid levels healthy. A wide range of veggies are also included in side dishes. Some Caribbean-inspired sides contain generous varieties of salsa or sofrito, which is a pureed combination of spices and veggies.

Some sides may be prepared with butter, which may be a source of added fat and calories. Additionally, if you are watching your lipid levels, you should avoid consuming foods that are prepared through deep frying, a preparation method used for some veggies and proteins in this type of cooking.

Caribbean Main Courses

Caribbean entrees are also packed with healthy ingredients. Generous combinations of tomatoes, onions, greens, spicy marinades, beans, and other healthy foods are often served with fish or poultry on a bed of rice. Sometimes, tropical fruit such as mangos, plantains, and papaya are also included in the main course. Despite the many diet-friendly foods that are included in this cuisine, some Caribbean-inspired meals may be high in calories or may have hidden saturated fat in them. Some of these meals are prepared with a lot of butter, margarine, or oil - all of which can add calories and fat to the meal and should be used sparingly, if at all possible. Additionally, certain types of meat - such as pork, beef, and lamb - may also be hidden sources of fat.

Some sauces used as a garnishment for some dishes may be high in refined sugars. In this case, these sauces should be placed in a separate container on the side and used sparingly. As an alternative, fresh fruit can be used for the same, sweet effect - without the extra calories. 

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