The group of Caribbean Islands is synonymous to beautiful shores, diverse cultures, and lush vegetation. But do you know that they boast a wide array of exotic produce as well? The Caribbean fruits and vegetables, as well as the seafood caught from its sea are striking departures from the standard western fare. They not only promise to satisfy your taste buds but are also bursting with nutrients and health benefits.
However, some of them can lead to fatal consequences when eaten undercooked or savored at the wrong time. So let us help you make the smartest choices from the wide range of healthy Caribbean foods so that you reap maximum benefits without falling ill.
Ackee: Honored as the national fruit of Jamaica, ackee can also be found in other Caribbean islands like the Bahamas and Haiti. The linoleic, stearic, and palmitic acid in ackee together form an ensemble of ‘healthy’ fats in the Jamaican diet. Apart from keeping flabs away from the waistline, ackee also takes care of epilepsy, fever, severe diarrhea and keeps parasites at bay. But beware of unripe ackee! The hypoglycin A and B in unripe ackee is lethal and can even lead to death.
Breadfruit: A native of Polynesia, breadfruit is now widespread in Jamaica and Barbados. Each cup of breadfruit boasts of 60 g of carbs, thus making it an ideal energy booster for people who lead an active life. Its fibers tame the blood sugar levels in diabetic patients, aid in digestion and proper bowel functioning, detoxify your body and fights against body cellulites all at once. So watch out for this ultimate multi-tasker! However, don’t overindulge as large portions of breadfruit generate excess heat in your body and can prove troublesome especially among pregnant women.
Jackfruit: The sweet, aromatic flavor is not the only good thing about jackfruit. It works wonders for your immune system, heart, and eyes too. The dietary fibers in jackfruit work as a laxative and save you from constipation blues. It can make you look younger too by slowing down the aging process. However, jackfruit brings bad news for diabetic patients by altering the glucose tolerance levels in diabetic patients. It can lower your libido or vigor too!
Chayote: Chayote (also called cho cho, christophene) might remind you of summer squash or melons when it comes to its appearance and flavors. And just like most varieties of squash, chayote promotes good health owing to its high nutrient content. Chayote keeps your heart healthy by reducing cholesterol levels while the fibers in it control the blood sugar levels. Counting to only 38.6 calories, a whole chayote keeps you satiated for longer without adding pounds to your weight. So keep a bowl of chayote handy for your next snack attack or simply blend it into your breakfast smoothie. After all, this gourd keeps your bones strong; prevent cancer and ideal for fetal health too.
Calabaza: The Jamaican version of pumpkin, calabaza is packed with the goodness of fiber, Vitamins B1 and C, potassium as well as folic acid. It is effective against lung cancer, type 2 diabetes, birth defects, and regarded as one of the safest Caribbean food. However, some men might face ejaculation problems after eating calabaza in large amounts.
Pink shellfish: Just like most seafood, pink shellfish could be a great way to include healthy eating in your diet. It might not have high levels of omega-3 fatty acids as compared to salmon or tuna, but it’s enough to prevent heart diseases, Alzheimer’s disease and unnecessary blood clotting. Apart from being a great source of vitamins A, B and D, the high zinc levels in it looks after our immune system and aids in wound healing. But steer clear of shellfish if you are allergic to seafood. Shellfish allergies can lead to redness of skin, swelling of throat or vomiting.
Red snapper: Yet another powerhouse of nutrients from the Caribbean waters, red snapper can be the best friend of weight-watchers owing to the striking contrast of low-calorie and high protein content. And soft, radiant skin comes as an added bonus!
Enjoying the health benefits of Caribbean food doesn’t call for a trip to the islands. Most of them are either imported or cultivated in North America and other countries. So are you ready to take a bite of these foods and stay healthy and fit?
By: Liya Das