San Juan, Puerto Rico

The study in San Juan, Puerto Rico, is led by Dr. Kaumudi Joshipura and her team of researchers at the University of Puerto Rico Medical Sciences Campus.

Other team members include Dr. Lydia Lopez, Ms. Sasha Martinez, Dr. Alan Preston, and Ms. Sandra Soltero.

Puerto Rico at a Glance

Capital: San Juan

Area: 13,790 sq km
Population: 3,620,897
Median age: total 38.7 years
Urban population: 99% of total population
Life expectancy: male 75.46 yr; female:  82.8 yr
Per Capita GDP: $16,300

Language: Spanish, English

Location:  Caribbean, island between the Caribbean Sea and the North Atlantic Ocean, east of the Dominican Republic

Agriculture:  Sugarcane, coffee, pineapples, plantains, bananas; livestock products, chickens

Diet and culture:
Authentic Puerto Rican food (comida criolla) can be summed up in two words: plantains and pork, usually served up with rice and beans. It is rarely if ever spicy, and to many visitors’s surprise has very little in common with Mexican cooking.

Plantains are essentially savoury bananas and the primary source of starch back in the bad old days, although you will occasionally also encounter cassava and other tropical tubers. Served with nearly every meal, incarnations include:

Mofongo: plantains mashed, fried, and mashed again, when filled up (relleno) with seafood this is probably the best-known Puerto Rican dish of them all.
Tostones:  twice deep-fried plantain chips, best when freshly made “sopa de plátanos” mashed plantain soup

The main meat eaten on Puerto Rico is pork, with chicken a close second and beef and mutton way down the list. Seafood, surprisingly, is only a minor part of the traditional repertoire: the deep waters around Puerto Rico are poorly suited to fishing, and most of the seafood served in restaurants for tourists is in fact imported. Still, fresh local fish can be found in restaurants across the east and west coast of the island, especially in Naguabo or Cabo Rojo respectively.

Black aromatic Puerto Rican coffee has been produced in the island’s high-altitude interior for more than 300 years. Originally imported from the nearby Dominican Republic, coffee is still among the island’s exports and is a suitable ending for any well-presented meal.

Rum is the national drink, and you can buy it in almost any shade. Puerto Rico is the world’s leading rum producer.