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Caliente chemistry for Cinco de Mayo

Cinco de Mayo May 5 commemorates the Battle of Puebla in 1862 when the Mexican Army defeated the French, but the holiday has become synonymous with celebrations featuring food, fun and dance. And much of the Cinco de Mayo fare at these fiestas can be very healthy for you, according to research presented in meetings and journals of the American Chemical Society, the world's largest scientific society.

Tomatoes
What would Mexican food be without tomatoes? The primary ingredient in most salsas, tomatoes are chock-full of antioxidants, including vitamin C and beta carotene. These compounds, as well as the dietary fiber, copper and iron, found in tomatoes, may play a role in preventing cell damage. And the red tomato pigment, lycopene, helps reduce the risk of breast, colon, lung and prostate cancer. Tomatoes also play a role in lowering cholesterol and triglycerides. http://center.acs.org/applications/ccs/application/index.cfm?pressreleaseid=1757&categoryid=1

Avocado
Guacamole, made with mashed avocados, tomatoes, onions and assorted seasonings, is another healthy Mexican treat. In addition to the health benefits of the tomatoes, Japanese scientists have discovered that avocados contain compounds that reduce liver damage. http://center.acs.org/applications/ccs/application/index.cfm?pressreleaseid=1588&categoryid=1

Onions, Chilies and Peppers
All that spicy food relies on onions, chilies and peppers to provide its characteristic zest. Scientists testing different foods for levels of flavonoids -- a type of antioxidant known to protect against cancer -- have shown that onions, red and green chilies, and bell peppers don't fall far behind more well-known sources of antioxidants, such as broccoli
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Contact: Allison Byrum
a_byrum@acs.org
202-872-4400
American Chemical Society
25-Apr-2003


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