The Healthy Foods of Brazil
Brazil is a diverse country, filled with many different, exotic foods, some of which are healthy and some which are not. LiveMD provides you with information to make the most informed diet decisions when dining out in Brazil during the 2016 olympics.
Brazil is a modernized country with many Americanized fast food chains. The addition of these high fat, fried foods to the Brazilian diet has contributed to the increase in obesity among the people of Brazil. Close to 50% of the population is considered overweight and of them, nearly 15% are obese. This issue is becoming an increasingly big problem in this country and can be largely blamed on the shift from a traditional diet to a more modernized one.
The traditional Brazilian diet consisted, for many year, of fresh, local produce, nuts and meats. These foods were all locally found and grown in the warm, tropical regions of Brazil and are high in nutrients, vitamins and minerals. Some of the most nutritious foods that this country has to offer are:
- Cassava – This root vegetable is a main source of carbohydrates and is considered a staple food for many people in this country and around the world. It is able to grow in very dry regions, where rainfall is scarce. It is also very high in many nutrients such as calcium, phosphorus and vitamin C. Brazil is the 4th largest producer of cassava in the world.
- Guarana – This plant is very common in Brazil and is known for the large seeds that are found in the plant’s fruits. These seeds contain a very high amount of caffeine, comparable to the coffee bean, and has traditionally been used in herbal teas. In more recent times the guarana seed’s stimulant properties have been used commercially in soft drinks and energy drinks.
- Acai – Acai belongs to the palm family and is best known for the fruits that these trees produce. Small, dark berries that are anywhere from black to purplish in colour and are similar to a grape in appearance, grow in large bunches on the tree and are harvested twice every year. These fruits were once a major staple of the Brazilian diet, making up close to 42% of the people’s main food intake due to their high caloric and fat contents. These berries are also extremely high in nutrients such as fibre, antioxidants, iron and other vitamins and minerals.
- Tucupi – This specialty is a sauce that is common in traditional Brazilian cuisine and is made by extracting the liquid from wild cassava plants. These plants produce a juice that is very poisonous and must be boiled for several hours to eliminate the poison. Once prepared, it is often served over poultry, like duck, or with rice. It can cause a numbing or tingling sensation to occur in the mouth.
- Rice and Beans – These two items are considered the main staples of a Brazilian diet and have been so for many years. Brazil is a major producer, importer and exporter of rice and this food can be seen, cooked in numerous different ways, in most Brazilian dishes. Beans are also a staple food and have been a primary source of protein for most of the country’s inhabitants but especially those who are unable to afford more expensive meat products.
On your journey to Brazil this year, LiveMD would like to encourage you to sample all of the local fares. Broadening your taste buds and experimenting with new flavours is a great way to add variety to your diet. Bon Appetit!
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