• Cardiovascular

    Mayo Clinic Minute: Breaking healthcare barriers in the Hispanic community

Hispanic Heritage Month is celebrated from Sept. 15–Oct. 15. It’s an opportunity to celebrate the more than 60 million people of Hispanic heritage living in the U.S.

Dr. Juan Carlos Leoni Moreno, a Mayo Clinic transplant cardiologist, says soaring obesity rates contribute to high rates of diabetes and heart disease in the Hispanic population. And healthcare disparities, including cultural differences, language barriers and lack of information, add to the challenges many Hispanic residents face.

Watch: The Mayo Clinic Minute

Journalists: Broadcast-quality video (1:00) is in the downloads at the end of this post. Please courtesy: "Mayo Clinic News Network." Read the script.

"Obesity has been a major health issue in the Hispanic population in the United States, resulting in health complications like diabetes and heart disease" says Dr. Leoni Moreno. He says there are many factors.

"This population has difficult access to healthcare, difficult access to guidance on prevention and management," he says.

That's where lifestyle changes can help. 

Dietary choices, like fresh fruit and vegetables, can replace processed foods high in fat and sugar. 

"Staying active can help lower complications too. The American Heart Association recommends at least 150 minutes of regular exercise a week," says Dr. Leoni Moreno.

“It’s better to prevent disease than to have to treat the disease. We want to see these patients at the right time," he says.

Eating for heart health

Young Hispanic or Latina woman cuts vegetables, bowl of fruit

A regular diet that's high in salt, fat and sugar can increase your risk for heart disease. Following a healthy diet can help the heart, control blood pressure and cholesterol, and lower the risk of Type 2 diabetes. 

Here are strategies everyone can follow for heart health:

  • Eat more vegetables and fruits: They provide vitamins, minerals, and fiber that protect your heart and help cut calories.
  • Choose whole grains: Opt for whole grains over refined grains to support blood pressure and heart health.
  • Healthy fats: Pick monounsaturated and polyunsaturated over saturated and trans fats to lower cholesterol.
  • Choose lean proteins: Lean meats, poultry, fish, low-fat dairy and legumes as protein sources.
  • Reduce salt intake: Lower salt consumption to prevent high blood pressure and heart disease.
  • Control portion size: Be mindful of how much you eat to avoid excess calories.
  • Plan daily menus: Emphasize vegetables, fruits, whole grains, lean proteins and healthy fats in your meals.
  • Enjoy occasional treats: It's OK to indulge occasionally, but maintain a mostly healthy eating plan.

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