Costa Rica, located in Central America, is already known for its beautiful coastlines, but these days, it is also becoming known for its abundance of healthy people. While a lot of this could be because of less stress and more sunshine, the truth is the cuisine plays a large role in how people feel as well. You don’t have to go to Costa Rica to adopt their eating habits, though. Just add some of these ideas into your own diet.
Make Lunch Your Largest Meal
Many Americans eat most of their daily food at dinner. This is a bad idea because you often find yourself in bed soon after, which doesn’t give your body adequate time to metabolize the food you’ve eaten. Costa Rica does things a little differently. Lunch is the largest meal, and the time is used to relax. In fact, most of the country shuts down for an hour or two. Even schools have longer lunch periods compared to the American average of 20 minutes. By eating larger meals midday, Costa Ricans are less likely to fill up at dinner time.
Eat More Seafood
Costa Rica is bordered by the Pacific Ocean to the west and the Caribbean Sea to the east, making fishing a popular industry and pastime. As a result, there is no shortage of healthy, delicious tuna, Mahi Mahi, and more in the country. Fresh seafood is known to provide crucial nutrients that aid in development and prevent heart problems. You can keep it healthy by mixing it with lemon, lime, or other citrus juice and chopped vegetables. The result is a zesty, healthy meal.
Vary the Fruits You Eat
Which fruits do you eat? If you’re like many Americans, you probably stick to basics like bananas and apples. While it’s true that bananas offer health benefits—they are a good source of potassium and soluble fiber—you’re missing out on the health benefits of fruits such as peach palms and papayas.
Papayas give you a healthy dose of Vitamins A, C, and E, as well as provide papain, an enzyme known to reduce inflammation. Peach palms are also high in vitamins, but some experts believe they contribute to the reason why Costa Ricans do not get stomach cancer as often as others do.
Eat Different Vegetables
Costa Rican eat a variety of vegetables, but most popular are Costa Rican yams—not to be confused with the North American sweet potato—and squash. Yams, which you can identify by their white flesh, are rich in Vitamin B6, which boosts the immune system and metabolism. Squash provide carotenoids. Dietary carotenoids may reduce the risk of developing eye diseases and some cancers.
Buy Some Black Beans
Black beans mixed with rice is not only delicious but also very healthy. In Costa Rica, the combination is eaten daily, often with every meal they have. Black beans host a high level of antioxidants, which are believed to boost immune systems and prevent certain types of cancer.
Drink Natural Drinks
If you truly want to get healthier, you need to look at what you’re drinking. All the healthy food in the world won’t help if you are still consuming thousands of calories worth of soda or sugary drinks masquerading as coffee. Most importantly, you need to drink water. Traditionally, people believed you should drink at least 64 ounces per day, but new research indications you should drink half your bodyweight in ounces. For example, if you weigh 150 pounds, you should drink 75 ounces of water daily.
If you still crave flavored drinks from time to time, stick to natural ones like what you find in Costa Rica. Tropical fruits are easy to blend into juices or smoothies with the help of some ice, almond milk, and a bit of yogurt. Unlike American smoothies, which often mix several fruits and vegetables into one, Costa Rican smoothies use only one fruit at a time, some of the most popular being blackberry, pineapple, and passionfruit.
Buy From Healthier Food Companies
Most of what Costa Ricans eat, they make themselves, but those who do buy premade items tend to read labels and know what is going into their bodies. You can do this by looking for products that do not use animal substances. Everything from condiments to cookie doughs are available in healthier, but still tasty plant form. In fact, Hamptoncreek makes both.
Of course, when it comes to being healthy, your best bet is to do what feels best for your body. Always consult with a doctor before drastically changing your diet.