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Is the Mexican Diet Causing Rampant Heart Disease?

Author: Mansour Assar, M.D., FACC

In the last year or so, you may have heard a well-known cardiologist claim the Mexican diet is “more dangerous than fast food.” The cardiologist, Dr. Enrique C. Morales Villegas, Director of the Cardiometabolic Research Centre, compiled some compelling evidence in his news release. Check out a few of the statistics Dr. Morales includes about the connections between lifestyle, diet, and heart disease:

  • Diabetes and cardiovascular disease rose by 9.5 percent in one year in Mexico.

  • 73 percent of women in Mexico are overweight.

  • 69 percent of men in Mexico are overweight.

  • 35 percent of adolescents in Mexico are overweight. (These statistics are quite comparable to statistics here in the U.S.)

  • An estimated 14 to 16 percent of adults in Mexico have diabetes.

  • 31 percent of Mexican adults have hypertension.

  • 40 percent of Mexican adults have bad cholesterol.

Dealing With the Mexican Diet: One Physician’s Approach

Based on his findings, Dr. Morales has proposed to the Mexican government that mandatory measurements of glucose, blood pressure, cholesterol, and BMI begin at age 18 and be performed once every three years. Dr. Morales’ hope is that these mandatory screenings would catch health problems early on. Through treatment and monitoring, incidences of heart disease – largely caused by poor diet and lack of physical activity – would decrease.

Avoid Mexican Food?

No, not necessarily! While the Mexican diet has recently come under fire, there are certainly healthy ways to adapt standard Mexican fare. Here are a few strategies for enjoying healthier Mexican food here in Arizona:

  • Ask your server to only bring one bowl of fried tortilla chips – no automatic refills.

  • Choose corn tortillas instead of flour tortillas.

  • Instead of chorizo, opt for grilled fish.

  • Choose a spicy dip like jalapeno peppers instead of sour cream.

  • Instead of a cheesy, beefy entree, try chicken or vegetable fajitas.

Eating a healthy Mexican diet – or any diet, for that matter – is all about limiting fats, sodium, and cholesterol. Instead of ordering off the menu, ask about healthier alternatives that fall within standard Mexican fare!

For more information about diet and heart disease, call Advanced Heart & Vascular Institute at 602-507-6002.
Please consult with your physician before undertaking any form of medical treatment or adopting any exercise program or dietary guidelines.


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