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Latin American tea infusions

5 teas and infusions popular in Latin America to improve sleep, focus, digestion, and more! 

Are you a tea lover? Or are you looking to try something new? Warm or cold, herbal teas and other infusions are often the perfect beverage to comfort and refresh—and they come with health benefits bonuses!

But what is the difference between the two? “Infusion” is a generic name for any ingredients –leaves, fruits, or herbs– that, left in hot or cold water, transmit their scents, aromas, and flavors to the liquid.

“Herbal tea” however, refers to a drink prepared using the leaves, roots, or stems of medicinal plants containing numerous benefits for our body.

Detoxification, diuretic effects, relaxing, or better digestion, both infusions and teas contain many properties that can help you start the year on the right foot!

Used for both healing purposes and social gatherings, teas and infusions are a cornerstone of Latin American and Hispanic culture. Today we’ve gathered a few of our favorite teas and infusions popular in Latin America to share with you. 

There’s something here for everyone from the busy entrepreneur who needs her caffeine boost to the college student who can’t sleep, or the mom with digestive issues—these teas have you covered! 

All you coffee addicts out there may be shaking your heads, but maybe it’s time to give tea a chance and reap the health benefits with these 5 teas and infusions popular in Latin America.

You might be interested: 15 Best Latin American soup recipes to try this winter!

5 teas and infusions popular in Latin America for health and energy  

Latin American tea infusion

Agua de Jamaica. (Image via muybuenocookbook.com)

Agua de Jamaica (Mexico) 

Agua de Jamaica is a traditional Mexican tea made from Hibiscus flowers. This tea can be prepared either hot or cold, but is more often a cold drink, with a fruity, sweet, sour, and astringent flavor profile. Unsweetened, it has a tart taste similar to cranberries but is often sweetened with honey or sugar to balance the tartness. 

This flavorful tea is not only refreshing, but it also boasts many health benefits. Packed with antioxidants, this tea is also believed to help lower blood pressure and blood fat levels, boost liver health, promote weight loss, help fight bacteria, and contains compounds that may even prevent cancer. 

Ready to try it?

  • Rinse and drain the dried hibiscus flowers in a large colander.
  • Bring water to a boil in a pot. Add the flowers and cover them tightly with a lid. Remove from the heat and steep for 1 hour or until cool.
  • Strain hibiscus water into a pitcher and discard flowers. Add sugar and stir. Refrigerate until time to serve.

Get more recipes from Ivette Marquez here

Té de Poleo (Image source)

Poleo (Mexico) 

Té de Poleo is another Mexican tea often used to treat colds and headaches. This tea is made from Hedeoma drummondii aka American Pennyroyal. Its flavor is intensely sweet and minty, produced when its herbage is crushed. 

Poleo has been used to treat a variety of ailments ranging from fever, colds, headaches, poor appetite, constipation, menstruation, and hangovers. 

Ready to try it?

  • Simply steep a tea bag, tea infuser, or tea ball in 8oz. of boiling water for 10 – 12 minutes.
  • You may wish to add honey or other sweeteners. 

Guayusa tea. (Image source)

Guayusa (Ecuador)

Guayusa is a tea widely popular in Ecuador but native to the Amazon rainforest, made from the leaves of the holly tree known by the botanical name Ilex guayusa. Its flavor is grassy and rich with a gentle sweetness and also slight fruity flavors and a creamy texture. 

For those looking for a caffeine alternative to coffee, guayusa is definitely one to consider. Guayusa tea is a caffeinated herbal beverage known for its ability to increase energy. Like the famous yerba mate, guayusa is also popular at social gatherings. 

Additional health benefits include amino acids, vitamins, and antioxidants. Guayusa has been shown to boost cardiovascular health and immune system, improve mood and induce relaxation, prevent premature aging and protect the nervous system from degenerative diseases with antioxidants, aid in digestion and promote weight loss. 

Ready to try it?

  • Pour fresh, cold water into a large pot or a tea kettle. Use only pure, spring or unfiltered water for the best flavor.
  • Bring the water to a roiling boil and remove it from heat.
  • Add 1 tablespoon or 2 grams of dried guayusa tea leaves to a tea gourd. Pour the hot water on the leaves and steep for 4 to 7 minutes. Brew up to 10 minutes for a stronger brew.

Learn more about guayusa and how to prepare it here

Yerba Mate. (Photo by davide ragusa on Unsplash)

Mate (Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Paraguay, Uruguay) 

Mate is a traditional herbal brew native to Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Paraguay, and Uruguay. It is made from the leaves and twigs of the Ilex paraguariensis plant. It’s flavor is strong, bitter, and vegetal, and it is often sweetened to balance the strong flavor. 

Like guayusa, mate is also a caffeinated tea with 85 mg of caffeine per cup. Mate is prepared by packing the herbs into a traditional cup, adding hot water, and sipping the tea through a metallic straw. In social gatherings, mate is traditionally shared with friends passing the drink from person to person and refilling the cup with hot water, a popular behavior that has changed since the pandemic started!

For those looking to improve focus, mate is the beverage for you. Additionally, mate has been shown to enhance physical performance, protect against infection, boost the immune system, and lower blood sugar levels and risk of heart disease. The infusion also provides small amounts of vitamin C, vitamin E, selenium, and zinc. 

Ready to try it?

  • Pour some yerba mate into your mate cup (until it is ¾ full)
  • Pour warm water onto part of the yerba mate.
  • The yerba is now getting wet and the infusion is starting to take place. Wait 30 seconds.
  • Put mate straw into the wet yerba mate tea.
  • Pour in hot water softly. Add sugar to taste to the mate if you want to sweeten it and “suck” through the yerba mate straw.

Get additional information and the recipe here

Latin American tea

Cascara tea. (Image source)

Cáscara (Nicaragua

Cáscara is an infusion from Nicaragua made from the dried husk of the coffee cherry. It has honey and floral notes in its flavor and contains around 25 mg of caffeine per cup. 

For those who are in need of some stress reduction, better sleep patterns, and better brain functioning, this is the tea for you. Cáscara also helps aid in digestion and reduce digestive issues such as constipation and preventing gallstones. Additionally, cáscara may also improve your skin and hair with its nutritional properties such as vitamin B, potassium, manganese, and calcium. 

Ready to try it?

  • Put the cascara in either an empty tea bag or any other tea infuser.
  • Steep it in boiling water (100℃ or 212℉) for around five minutes.
  • You can get creative with it adding sweetened condensed milk.

Get other recipes here

***Disclaimer: Beware that overconsumption of these teas may cause adverse side effects. Please follow package instructions or consult your doctor before use of these teas and infusions if you have prior health concerns.***

Another reason to exercise every day during the holidays

William B. Farquhar, Professor at University of Delaware shares how daily exercise can prevent high blood pressure–a primary health concern for Hispanic and Latino populations. 

Yes, of course we all know we should exercise every day during the holiday season to help counter the onslaught of excess calories that started on Thanksgiving and will mercifully end with a New Year’s toast.

We may even tire of hearing about exercise and weight from family, friends and the media. But an equally important reason to exercise every day is related to blood pressure, not waistline.

As a physiologist who has studied exercise and health for over 20 years, I can tell you that exercise lowers blood pressure – and does so right away.
Whether you go for a daily run or brisk walk, every time you finish exercising your blood pressure goes down, and stays down for many hours, which is good for your overall health. Here’s why.

Immediate drop in blood pressure occurs

The immediate blood pressure lowering effect of exercise is referred to as “post-exercise hypotension,” and many studies have shown that blood pressure declines 5 to 7 mmHg after every exercise session. The mechanisms responsible for lowering blood pressure immediately after exercise are not fully understood, but involve dilation of the blood vessels. Whatever the precise cause, this phenomenon is clearly beneficial.

During exercise the opposite occurs, blood pressure actually increases dramatically. Why? We are hardwired to exercise. When we exercise, our working muscles need oxygen-rich blood. Our brain signals the heart to increase blood flow and blood pressure rises. Systolic blood pressure (top number) can exceed 180 mmHg during hard exercise.

This sounds like a crazy-high number, and it would be if a reading like this were taken while seated, but it is not unusual during strenuous exercise. High blood pressure values during exercise are offset by the many low values recorded after exercise, to the benefit of the body.

high blood pressure, hypertension

Photo by Thirdman from Pexels

Why worry about blood pressure? Simply put, high blood pressure (i.e., hypertension) kills. It is estimated that hypertension is a primary or contributing cause of death of more than 400,000 Americans annually. Estimates suggest that one billion people worldwide have hypertension. Here in the U.S., one-third of the population is hypertensive, and these numbers are projected to rise 7 percent by 2030. This is not just a concern for older adults – one estimate suggests that 19 percent of young adults have hypertension.

Hypertension increases the risk of heart disease, stroke and kidney disease. The societal costs of hypertension are astronomical. When you consider the cost of health care services, medications and missed days of work, estimates suggest that hypertension costs the U.S. US$46 billion per year. Often, there are no signs or symptoms of hypertension, which is why it is referred to as the “silent killer.” Even among adults who have been diagnosed with hypertension, nearly half do not have it under control despite taking medications. Needless to say, anything you can do to lower your blood pressure will lower your risk of disease.

Great news: You don’t have to spend hours on this

As my colleagues and I point out in the Mayo Clinic Proceedings, exercise guidelines for those with hypertension emphasize the importance of daily or near-daily exercise to lower blood pressure. While the guidelines focus on those diagnosed with hypertension, daily exercise can benefit everyone.

To some, daily exercise may seem onerous, but the good news is that the exercise need not be intense or lengthy – moderate intensity exercise such as brisk walking for 30 minutes will lead to reductions in blood pressure. There is even evidence that short exercise bouts throughout the day (e.g., 10 minutes, three times per day) can lower blood pressure.

The bottom line is that exercising every day (and obviously eating less) will help prevent holiday weight gain, but an equally important benefit of daily exercise is lower blood pressure.The Conversation

You might be interested: Start the conversation about Latino health concerns this Family Health History Day 


William B. Farquhar, Professor of Kinesiology & Applied Physiology, University of Delaware

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

overeating while working from home

Kick the habit! How to avoid overeating when working from home

If you’ve been working from home this past year, then you might have picked up some new eating habits. You may have found yourself in the kitchen snacking throughout the workday more often than usual, and now you’re thinking: how can I avoid overeating when working from home? If this is you, then read on for tips on how to break the habit! 

overeating when working from home

Photo by Icons8 Team on Unsplash

Understanding why you overeating may be overeating 

You may have heard that unhealthy eating on the job is now considered to be an occupational hazard according to the World Health Organization. For years, employees have been munching on unhealthy snacks and drinking gallons of coffee every working minute. Employers often believe that offering food is a great way to boost workers’ moral and short breaks mean that getting quality food isn’t always an option. Most people end up opting for fast food and sugary snacks. 

If you’re struggling now while working from home, you may be asking yourself: Why? Well, one possibility is old habits are hard to break. If past eating habits have been ingrained in your mind from your traditional work environment, then you may be seeking to replicate those habits now. Familiarity is comforting. Do you find yourself constantly going for another coffee? Or reaching for just one more cookie or bagel? You may be looking for old comforts, but without anyone around there’s no one stopping you when you end up eating the whole box of cookies or drink that whole pot of coffee! 

Another reason why you may find yourself overeating when working from home is simply brain chemistry. These are stressful times we’re living in. The COVID-19 pandemic has radically changed our lives and made the future landscape unpredictable. 

In an article with BBC, Las Vegas-based clinical psychologist Cortney Warren says, “A lot of people are struggling with their eating right now – and probably in different ways than they’re used to. There is certainly a great deal of research to suggest that when people are in a crisis situation, when they are highly stressed, one of the first things that will change is their eating behaviour.”

Foods make us feel good. The body tends to crave high-calorie and high-sugar foods during times of stress. These foods provide short-term bursts of energy that help get us through the moment. Additionally stress leads to higher cortisol levels, which can increase your appetite causing you to seek out a quick fix. Sugary foods also generate dopamine which is the neurotransmitter associated with motivation and reward. So eating can literally make you feel better on a chemical level during times of high stress.

While the science says it’s making us feel good, it may not always be the healthiest coping mechanism. If you feel you’ve been overeating too much while working from home, then here are a few tips to help break that habit. 

Here are some tips on how to break this habit and avoid overeating while working from home 

Don’t work near the kitchen: Put some distance between you and the source. You’ll be less tempted to check the fridge and if you have to get up frequently and walk all the way over to the kitchen for your snacks, then you’re more likely to stop yourself before you get there. 

Meal prep ahead of time: If you have your meals and snacks for the day already planned and prepared, then you’re less likely to mindlessly snack throughout the day. One big cause of overeating or mindless snacking is convenience. We like things quickly available. If you take the time to pre-cut fruits and veggies for snacks and prep your lunches, then your healthy foods become “fast food” too! Keep a “menu” for the day or work week and hang it on your fridge as a reminder. 

Portion out your meals: Like meal prepping, it’s important to properly portion your serving sizes to avoid overeating. Never eat snacks straight out of the bag or container. Many snacks like chips are designed to be very tasty and addictive. Once you start snacking you may find it hard to know when to stop if you’re eating straight from the bag. Instead, you could divide that large chip bag into smaller zip bags to have ready for when you want that quick snack but don’t want to overeat. 

Stay hydrated: Did you know, your body often confuses thirst with hunger? Sometimes you may think you’re hungry but you’re actually just thirsty. Dehydration can also lead to headaches and fatigue. So make sure you’re staying properly hydrated throughout the day and you may find that you’re no longer craving as many snack breaks as before. 

Don’t buy unhealthy snacks: If junk food isn’t around in the first place, you’ll be less likely to eat it when looking for a quick snack. Instead stock up on healthy snacks such as yogurt, nuts, veggies or fruit. In other words: If you can’t kick your cookie cravings, don’t buy them to begin with.

You might be interested5 Things entrepreneurs can do to achieve their goals in the new year

If you’ve been struggling with overeating while working from home, don’t feel bad or guilty because you’re definitely not alone. Food is fun. Food makes us happy. And habits can be hard to break, especially during a stressful year like 2020 when we’re all just looking for ways to cope and feel better. But if overeating is a habit you’re looking to kick in the new year, then give these tips a try. You’ve got this! 

10 Inspirational tips from successful people

10_inspirational tipsBy Jesse Torres

As a commencement speaker, I look for nuggets of wisdom that graduates will take with them as they journey forward in their lives. Along the way, I hope to inspire a life or two and create reason for a cheer, a tear or evoke fear. I drafted this list of 10  inspirational tips to achieve success in life.. The list is by no means all-inclusive. However, I think it provides a very good starting point from which to develop a road map for successful living. I think the graduates will find great value in this list. I only hope that I will be able to live up to and consistently follow my own advice.

10 STEPS TO ACHIEVING SUCCESS IN LIFE

Steve Jobs

Steve Jobs

1. Set Goals: “Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?” “That depends a good deal on where you want to get to,” said the Cat. “I don’t much care where,” said Alice. “Then it doesn’t matter which way you go,” said the Cat. – dialogue between Alice and the Cheshire Cat in Lewis Carroll’s book, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.

People who know what they want and have set a course for achieving their goals are generally happier than those that just let life happen to them. This wisdom is not new. Earl Nightingale once said, “Don’t wait for something outside of yourself to make you happy in the future.” Ralph Waldo Emerson encouraged goal setting by stating that, ‘Once you make a decision, the universe conspires to make it happen.”

2. Don’t Fear Failure: “I failed my way to success.” – Thomas Edison

So often we are taught in our lives that failing is a bad thing. Failure is almost always placed at odds with success. Yet without failure few would know the way to success. No one ever did it right all the time. But most that have experienced some success have failed at some point.

3. Take Risks: “Life is either a daring adventure or nothing at all.” – Helen Keller

Life is more fun and exciting when we take risks. At the end of the day there is truth to the statement, “nothing ventured, nothing gained.” But be calculated – risk should not be taken for risk’s sake. Opportunity may knock, but it may not stand around very long. Be ready to go on an adventure at the knock of a door. A successful life includes not having regrets for not having taken enough risks.

4. Don’t Stop Learning: “Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever.” – Mahatma Gandhi

The more you know, the more you realize you do not know. Formal education just scratches the surface and is a drop of our capacity to learn. Knowledge, no matter how insignificant it may appear to be, gives us a reason to get out of bed every morning. Make it a habit to learn something new each day. Treat knowledge like a new friend. Life is so much more satisfying when we make a new friend every day.

5. Do Not Settle: “If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Don’t settle.” – Steve Jobs

Success is a process – not an event. Some goals may happen overnight. Others require more time, energy, and alignment of some planets. Do not get discouraged. Keep plotting forward with your plan. Evaluate your progress and make course corrections. Keep your goal top of mind and keep your feet moving. Michael Jordan once said, “If you’re trying to achieve, there will be roadblocks. I’ve had them; everybody has had them. But obstacles don’t have to stop you. If you run into a wall, don’t turn around and give up. Figure out how to climb it, go through it, or work around it.”

6. Live a Balanced Life: “My point is, life is about balance. The good and the bad. The highs and the lows. The pina and the colada.” – Ellen DeGeneres

Ellen Degeneres

Ellen Degeneres

In life we are constantly be pulled in many different directions. Family, work, school, faith, community, etc. It is impossible to give attention to all things at once. There are not enough hours in a day to carve out time for each demand. However, over the intermediate- and long-term, we can achieve balance.

A balanced life should include doing a good job at work. Earning an honest pay for an honest day’s work. Balance means taking time to treat the body well and keeping it running properly with good foods, exercise, and rest. Balance means being present for the family. Few can give the family all the time it demands. But giving it “quality time” will keep the family healthy and happy. Balance means taking some time for oneself to recharge the batteries. Balance means being of service to the community and giving back. Balance means feeding the soul through religion and/or spirituality.

7. Seek a Mentor: “Tell me and I forget, teach me and I may remember, involve me and I learn.” – Benjamin Franklin

While there are advantages to failing, failure for failure’s sake is of limited use. Work towards success and deal with failure as a byproduct of a well-developed plan. The best way to achieve success and limit failure is to work with someone who has already been down the same road. There is plenty that can go wrong as we travel down the road towards success. By eliminating the low hanging fruit on the tree of failure we improve the odds of success and ensure that we experience only the most worthy type of failure. And remember to thank your earliest mentors, your parents, teachers, and others, who inspired you to succeed and set you on your journey.

8. Shut Up and Listen: “I like to listen. I have learned a great deal from listening carefully. Most people never listen.” – Ernest Hemingway

Too often we spend our time doing all the talking and not doing any listening. Even when we’re listening, we’re thinking about the next thing we’re going to say. By truly listening we can fully understand what we are being told and properly engage in the conversation. If we do not listen we cannot provide what is needed. We cannot give the needed advice, solution, or shoulder to cry on.

9. Network: “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” – Maya Angelou

Maya Angelou

Maya Angelou

No one in this world achieved success on their own. Success requires that you lean on someone for support. That’s where the network comes in. True networking means being of service to those in the network – and not expecting something in return. Then when needed, the network will find a way to return the favor.

10. Carry a Notebook: “Always carry a notebook. And I mean always. The short-term memory only retains information for three minutes; unless it is committed to paper you can lose an idea for ever.” – Will Self

Our lives are busy and getting busier. Over the course of a day we’ll have ideas, solutions, and epiphanies. If we do not have a way to capture them we risk losing them forever. A notebook, whether hardcopy or electronic, helps us record our thoughts, release the mental storage, and move on to the next great idea or solution.

 

 

 About Jesse TorresJesse_Torres

Jesse Torres has spent nearly 20 years in leadership and executive management posts, including executive management roles at financial institutions. In 2013 the Independent Community Bankers of America named him a top community banker influencer on social media. He is a frequent speaker at financial services and leadership conferences and has written several books. He hosts an NBC News Radio show called Money Talk with Jesse Torres.
Follow @jstorres or contact  Jesse@JesseTorres.com

4 Healthy habits of an influential Latina

 

Developing good personal and professional habits can help us go through tough times with less stress and more productivity. Maybe we need to make decisions about our lives or careers, or simply be motivated at staying on track. Those are times when tension and pressure mount.

An influential Latina, Dr. Maria Hernandez, PhD, co-founder of Latinhttp://latinavida.org/aVIDA™,  shared four of her best habits that help her stay on top of her best game. Read more

Ethnic smelly food, a no-no in the office

CaribbeanfishSome ethnic food has a strong or spicy smell when heated; however, the person bringing the food might not be as sensitive to the smell as other co-workers who are not used to that kind of food. People might complaint or just get upset. Read more