Nutrition expert Josiemer Mattei shares her dietary habits and Puerto Rican food traditions

Josiemer Mattei
Josiemer Mattei

April 18, 2023—Josiemer Mattei, Donald and Sue Pritzker Associate Professor of Nutrition at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, grew up in Puerto Rico eating traditional foods like rice and beans, and a lot of fresh fruit. In an April 6 Q&A with American Heart Association News, she shared how Puerto Rican food culture shaped her dietary habits, and what she eats in a typical day.

Mattei is now pescatarian and tries to eat produce that is local and in-season. Her lunches on-the-go typically include protein and lots of veggies, and she tries to keep her sodium intake low. She said that dinner with her family is usually her healthiest meal of the day, and often includes Puerto Rican foods, and that she still sometimes indulges in her favorite Puerto Rican desserts.

She advised people who want to eat healthier: “Find something that’s good for your body, good for your mind and wellbeing, and that aligns with your budget, culture, and values. Eat wholesome foods and avoid processed foods. This is in essence what the dietary guidelines tell us to do for a healthy eating pattern,” she said. “Just keep at it, be kind to yourself and enjoy the good food that is out there.”

Read the American Heart Association Q&A: How the food culture of Puerto Rico shaped this nutrition expert

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Josiemer Mattei on making healthy diets culturally accessible (Harvard Public Health)

Photo: Kent Dayton