Traditional Latino beverages are healthy

January 25, 2010

CORVALLIS, Ore. – A local healthy-beverage campaign encourages Latino families to enjoy the benefits of nutritious drinks that are part of their cultural heritage.

The healthy beverage campaign was developed by the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program –Education (SNAP-Ed) of the Oregon State University Extension Service in response to surveys of Oregon Latino families.

The campaign emphasizes that nutritious beverages are part of a healthy diet for families, said Carolyn Raab, OSU Extension foods and nutrition specialist. The theme is "To live happy is to drink healthy" ("Vivir alegre es beber saludable").

"The survey shows that many Latino families appear to consume more soft drinks after they move to the U.S.,” said Tina Dodge Vera, nutrition educator with the OSU Extension Service in Linn and Benton counties. “Latinos living in Oregon may also consume other sugar-sweetened beverages such as fruit drinks."

Naturally sweetened, traditional beverages made with whole fruit may be more nutritious than beverages with added sugar, Raab pointed out. Consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages also may be a concern for families other than Latinos.

"Licuados (pureed milk and whole fruit combinations) provide calcium for strong bones and teeth as well as vitamin C for healthy gums and blood vessels,” Raab said. “By using lower fat milk (such as one-percent) and serving moderate-sized one-cup portions, excess calories can be avoided."

A mailed flier and billboards in Corvallis and Albany direct Spanish speakers to a web site featuring traditional healthy beverages. It can be found on the Food Hero Web site. Click on "Heroe de alimentos."

Sueño de frutas can be made by blending three cups of one percent milk with three cups of cut fruit. Strawberries, oranges, mango, pineapple and pears are all possibilities. Frozen and canned fruit are an option when fresh fruit isn't available in the winter.

"Children can help their parents make healthy beverages by measuring ingredients or cutting fruit with a dull knife," Raab said. "Parents who drink naturally sweetened beverages will be better models for their children than those who drink sugar-sweetened beverages."

The campaign is funded by SNAP-Ed in partnership with the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the Oregon Department of Human Services and the OSU Extension Service.

Author: Judy Scott
Source: Carolyn Raab