For the first time, national food and
nutrient intakes of Mexican Americans and other people of Hispanic origin are
available from USDA. The data are drawn from
the 1994-96 What We Eat In America Survey (a.k.a.
managed by the Agricultural Research
Service, USDA's chief scientific agency.
Public health professionals, researchers, educators and dietitians serving
the Hispanic community can now spot dietary patterns that could impact the
health of these groups.
For instance, the data show that Mexican Americans eat more fiber than other
Hispanics, non-Hispanic whites and non-Hispanic blacks. The average fiber
intake for all Mexican Americans was 17 grams daily, closer than the other
groups to the 20-30 grams recommended by the
National Institutes of Health.
Adult Mexican American males age 20 and over consumed nearly 24 grams of fiber
on average, while teenage males consumed nearly 20 grams.
Legumes may contribute a large portion of that fiber in the Mexican American
male diet. Adult males averaged 107 grams of legumes a day. That's double the
intake of other Hispanics and almost four times greater than the non-Hispanic
groups. Teenage Mexican American males consumed two to six times more legumes
than the other groups, averaging 71 grams daily.
Not surprisingly, Mexican Americans eat more tortillas and taco shells than
other Hispanics--about twice as much. The latter group eats three times more
rice than Mexican Americans. Mexican Americans also lean toward whole milk,
which accounts for 63 percent of milk consumed compared to 59 percent for other
Hispanics and 25 percent for whites. Nearly 70 percent of the milk consumed by
blacks is whole milk over low-fat alternatives.
In 1994-96, both Hispanic groups were low in the same nutrients as the
general population, with intakes of vitamin E, calcium and zinc below
Recommended Dietary Allowances. Blacks also fell below the 1989 RDA for