Mientras que muchos de los hispanos que trabajan hoy en día en Estados Unidos, se las arreglan para seguir realizando enviar dinero a México y a otras partes de Latino América, también se las ingenian para invertir su dinero en comprar su primera vivienda. Esto se ha dado tan frecuentemente, que los expertos inmobiliarios creen que el deseo de los latinos por tener un lugar propio puede tener un rol fundamental en el mercado en los próximos años.
De acuerdo al informe de 24 páginas publicado por la Asociación Nacional de Profesionales Hispanos de Bienes Raíces, NAHREP (por sus siglas en Ingles), hoy en día, los latinos son el grupo de más rápido crecimiento en el mercado inmobiliario. Esta tendencia ha sido única en toda la historia de Estados Unidos y los llamados compradores "vírgenes de casas" han marcado todo un record.
Por ejemplo, durante los últimos 12 años, más de la mitad – 51 por ciento – del total del incremento neto de las viviendas ocupadas por sus propietarios, han sido hispanos, o lo que se traduce en unos 355.000, según los informes del RIS Media.
Juan Martínez, quien ha sido recientemente nombrado presidente del NAHREP, dijo que este escenario es sólo uno de los últimos signos de la positiva influencia que los latinos han traído al bienestar del desarrollo de la economía eestadounidense.
Agregó que debido a que muchos hispanos hoy en día son responsables con la forma en que administran su dinero, el mal crédito no es un problema que en un futuro les impida a los latinos convertirse en propietarios de sus viviendas.
Lo que podría afectar esa realidad es el ritmo acelerado con que hoy se están comprando las casas – el cual es más rápido que la actualización de los niveles de inventarios que los constructores de viviendas realizan.
Poca oferta, limita a la industria inmobiliaria
Esto ha sido un problema desde hace varios meses. Por ejemplo, en el último informe publicado por la Asociación Nacional de Agentes Inmobiliarios (NAR, por sus siglas en Ingles), las ventas pendientes de casas – que son las transacciones de bienes raíces sobre la base de cuántos contratos se han firmado – se redujo aproximadamente cinco décimas de un por ciento en febrero. La razón de esta disminución se dio por la poca cantidad de casas disponibles.
Lawrence Yun, jefe economista de NAR, indicó que las empresas de construcción tienen la llave para frenar esta disminución.
"Realmente, sólo la construcción de nuevas viviendas puede ayudar a aliviar la escasez de inventario, la construcción de viviendas tiene que incrementar en al menos un 50 por ciento desde los niveles actuales", dijo Yun.
Predijo que la curva en que la compra de propiedades se desplace a lo largo de los próximos meses, dependerá en gran medida de la mejora de los niveles de inventarios limitados, lo que él dice podría ser efectuada si las regulaciones para las empresas de construcción fuesen menos pesadas. Evitando así, algunos de los trámites burocráticos involucrados con la producción inmobiliaria.
Si bien, los latinos parecen ser el principal motor detrás de la compra de la primera casa, los niveles de propietarios hispanos han caído sobre una base porcentual.
Según el informe del RIS Media, alrededor del 46 por ciento de los hispanos son dueños de una casa, en comparación con el 47,5 por ciento del 2010. Esto significa una baja porque hoy en día hay más personas de origen latino en los Estados Unidos que hace tres años.
El informe también revela otros aspectos de la vida de la comunidad latina en los EE.UU. Por ejemplo, el poder de compra – o la cantidad que una determinada comunidad contribuye a la función económica de un país - la cual se ha incrementado considerablemente entre los hispanos. En la actualidad supera el $ 1 billón y se prevé que alcance los $ 1,5 billones en el plazo de dos años.
Mucho de esto puede derivar de los niveles de educación que los hispanos están logrando. El informe de la NHAREP muestra que los latinos representan el segmento más grande de las minorías matriculados en las universidades. Ellos lo están haciendo bien, pues una vez que se gradúan de las escuelas, también siguen teniendo un buen desempeño, ya que cuatro de cada 10 ganan un promedio de aproximadamente $ 50.000 cada año.
A new article indicates that what were once two separate and distinct entities – Mexican art and Mexican American art – may now be uniting to form one unique whole.
According to a recent feature published in the Los Angeles Times, for the past several decades, there has been a divide between people who send money to Mexico in order purchase artistic renderings that were produced there and the showpieces that were made by someone of Mexican descent, only in America.
C. Ondine Chavoya, associate professor of Latina and Latino art at Williams College in Massachusetts, indicated that the two being isolated from each other has likely been because of the structural differences in how art is taught in the U.S. versus Mexico, not to mention the disparity in how galleries in each country are.
But art experts say that this separation is less apparent, due to recent discoveries revealing that Mexican art and Mexican American art have a lot of comparables.
These similarities were on display at an art festival held in Mexico City, called "Asco: Elite of the Obscure" which catalogued various pieces that were produced between 1972 and 1987. The Los Angeles Times notes that art enthusiasts will be able to see this exhibition through the month of July.
Technology has enabled art enthusiasts to overcome longheld stereotypes
But it isn't just the renderings that contributed to the estrangement between Mexican and Mexican American artwork. The newspaper notes that for generations, each camp had perceptions of the other that were less than favorable. For example, among Mexican artists who have never left their home country, many believed that those who moved to America turned their back on their culture in the pursuit of a different ideal. Octavio Paz, who won a Nobel Prize for literature, may have helped contribute to this stereotype in his work, "The Labyrinth of Solitude."
But modern-day conveniences have helped Mexicans and Mexican Americans overcome these barriers. The Times indicates that the prevalence of text messaging and the internet has enabled individuals on both sides of the border to share their experiences one with another about the differences they've witnessed in the respective art pieces. A more liberated political environment has also contributed to greater communication, even about art topics that were once considered off-limits.
Curators tell the Los Angeles Times that as Mexican and Mexican American art become increasingly interconnected, even more parallels will become apparent. There will be more opportunities to discern the things that are analogous in future projects and exhibitions, including four years from now when Southern California hosts a festival akin to the one that Mexico City opened earlier this year.
Mexico has a rich history of famous painters who have made their mark on the world of art over the past centuries. One of the most well-known Mexican artists is Diego Rivera, who was a prominent painter throughout much of life. Several years before he died in 1957, Rivera's works were showcased in New York City at fine art museums in 1931. Some of his most famous pieces are in Mexico City today, as well as in U.S.-based cities like Detroit and San Francisco.
A slightly more contemporary Mexican artist is David Alfaro Siqueiros, He's perhaps best known for major works like "La Marcha," "Portrait of the Bourgeoisie" and "The March of Humanity." Siqueiros died at the age of 77 in Mexico in 1974. University of Mexico students get to see his work with regularity as an entire wall of a building on the campus depicts one of his murals.
Xoom cambia las reglas de juego con su nuevo servicio: solo retira el dinero cuando haya sido recibido.
Xoom revoluciona la forma como envías dinero.
SAN FRANCISCO, CA, Abril 2, 2013 – Xoom Corporation (NASDAQ: XOOM), un proveedor mundial de envíos de dinero por internet, lanza su nuevo servicio de retirar monto total del envío de dinero incluidos los cargos, solo cuando haya sido recibido. Esta es una iniciativa que rompe con los esquemas del tradicional envío de dinero, dándole a los clientes de Xoom la tranquilidad que no se va a retirar un centavo de sus cuentas de banco hasta cuando el dinero haya sido recibido por sus seres queridos.
Este servicio está disponible para algunos clientes de Latino América y el Caribe, que seleccionen enviar con sus cuentas bancarias (https://www.xoom.com/paga-despues-de-recibir). Xoom se diferencia de las demás compañías de envíos de dinero, en que solo retira el monto total del envío de dinero cuando haya sido recibido.
“Con este servicio demostramos una vez más como Xoom revoluciona el mundo de envíos de dinero,” dice Julian King, Vicepresidente de Mercadeo y Desarrollo Comercial de Xoom “Cuando nuestros clientes envían dinero y lo pagan con su cuenta de banco, Xoom no les cobra hasta cuando sus seres queridos reciban el dinero. Creemos en darle más poder a nuestros clientes, para que hagan envíos convenientes, seguros, y rápidos a casa.”
Este servicio es la oferta más reciente de Xoom para darle a sus clientes tranquilidad y confianza. Al inicio de este año, Xoom presentó a sus clientes StatusTrak un sistema de seguimiento en línea, que le permite a los clientes hacer seguimiento a sus envíos de dinero a través de mensajes de texto, actualizaciones por correo electrónico y apoyo telefónico 24h, 7 días a la semana.
“Cuando nuestros clientes envían dinero, quieren la tranquilidad de saber que sus seres queridos lo han recibido con seguridad”, añadió King. “Ambos servicios dan una gran confianza en la experiencia de envío de dinero con Xoom.”
Xoom es un proveedor mundial de envíos de dinero, que se enfoca en ayudar a los consumidores enviar dinero de una forma segura, rápida y rentable usando su teléfono celular, tablet o computadora. Durante el año terminado en Diciembre 31, 2012, los más de 750.000 clientes activos de Xoom enviaron más de US$3.2 mil millones a familiares y amigos en más de 30 países alrededor del mundo. El centro de operaciones de la compañía está en San Francisco y puede ser encontrada en línea en www.xoom.com.
While many of today's Hispanics working in the U.S. may continue to send money to Mexico and other parts of Latin America, they are also putting their hard-earned money toward the purchase of a new property. This is so common that real estate experts believe that their desire for a place to call their own may shape how demand plays out over the upcoming years.
According to the 24-page report released by the National Association of Hispanic Real Estate Professionals, Latinos today are the fastest growing group of first-time homebuyers in all of America. For example, over the past 12 years, more than half – 51 percent – of the total net increase in owner-occupied homes were among Hispanics, or what translates to about 355,000, RISMedia reports.
Juan Martinez, who was recently installed as the newest president of NAHREP, said that this is just the latest sign of how much of an influence Latinos have on the country's economic well-being.
"Despite a difficult economic environment and a tight mortgage market, Latinos are making gains in all the ways that make them ready for homeownership," said Martinez.
He added that because many Hispanics today are responsible with how they manage their money, poor credit is not an issue that will prevent aspiring Latinos to become homeowners in the future should they have that desire. What may impact that reality is the pace with which homes today are being purchased – faster than home builders have been able to refresh inventory levels.
Real estate industry overall impacted by limited supply
This has been an issue for several months. For example, in the latest report published by the National Association of Realtors, pending home sales – which are real estate transactions based on how many contracts have been signed – fell approximately five-tenths of a percent in February. The reason for this was not diminished initiative to buy a property but rather few houses from which to select.
Lawrence Yun, chief economist at NAR, indicated construction firms hold the key to replenishing the diminished supply.
"Only new home construction can genuinely help relieve the inventory shortage, and housing starts need to rise at least 50 percent from current levels," said Yun.
He predicted that how property purchases pan out over the next several months will largely rely on improving constrained inventory levels, which he says could be effectuated by making regulatory rules less onerous for construction firms. This may them avoid some of the red tape that's involved with property development.
Though Latinos do appear to be the main driver behind first-time homebuyers, Hispanic homeownership levels have dropped off on a percentage basis. According to the report, approximately 46 percent of Hispanics are homeowners, which is down from 47.5 percent in 2010. This is mainly because there are more people of Latino descent in America today than there were three years ago, RISMedia reports.
The report also revealed other aspects of life in the U.S. that the Hispanic community is having a significant influence on. For example, purchasing power – or how much a given community contributes to a country's economic function – has increased considerably among Hispanics. It now exceeds $1 trillion and is projected to reach $1.5 trillion in two years' time.
Much of this may derive from the education levels Hispanics are achieving. The NAHREP report shows that Latinos represent the largest segment of minorities currently enrolled in universities. They are doing well once they graduate from schools, too, as four in 10 earn an average of approximately $50,000 each year.
It's clear that one of the leading factors that drives Hispanics and Latinos to start a business of their own is so that they can send money to their loved ones who may live in Mexico or some other part of Latin America. There are a variety of other reasons why Hispanics set out to start their own businesses, though.
Recently, life insurance company MassMutual released the results of its report, "Business Owner Perspectives: 2011 Insights in an Uncertain Economy." While it's contents focused on entrepreneurs in general, it made a point of detailing the factors that motivate Hispanics to start their own business ventures.
One of the leading aspects that compelled many Hispanics to start companies of their own was due to a fervent desire to give back to their community. More than half of the business owners who took part in the survey – 54 percent – noted that they felt a sense of duty to give back to their locality by providing for its residents through goods or services. They also hoped that their operations would contribute to the community's economic strength as well. This contrasts sharply with the general public population, as approximately one in every five said giving back to the community was what drove them to begin their business.
Additionally, extended family members served as sufficient motivations for Hispanic business owners. The report found that roughly one-third of all business owners of Latino descent began their company because they wanted to help their extended family members out by giving them a job. About 19 percent of the general business owner population cited this as their reasoning.
Overwhelmingly, though, immediate family members served as the top inspiration for beginning a business. Close to nine in every 10 said providing for their loved ones was the most influential factor, a feeling shared by 77 percent of business owners overall.
March 29 is National Mom-and-Pop Business Owner's Day
Small business owners – no matter what their origin – serve as the lifeblood of the American economy. So much so, that there's a day devoted to celebrating what they do for the country's financial system and job market.
March 29 is National Mom-and-Pop Business Owner's Day. The annual occasion is often recognized by consumers by purchasing some of their everyday needs at local small business operations rather than at big box stores or supermarkets.
According to the U.S. Small Business Administration, there are approximately 27 million small businesses in the country. These operations account for roughly 60 percent of all new jobs that are added to the economy on an annual basis.
To a certain extent, local convenience stores and markets aren't quite as commonplace as they once were. That said, they still represent a considerable share of the businesses that are in operation today. SBA notes that the number of small businesses in the U.S. has jumped nearly 50 percent since 1982. In addition, while big businesses have made workforce cutbacks – as many as 4 million since 1990 – small businesses have created 8 million jobs over the past 23 years.
Many of these jobs wouldn't have been possible without Hispanic entrepreneurs.
However, that's not to suggest that today's business owners don't have struggles. The MassMutual study found that roughly 30 percent of Hispanic business owners have trouble with keeping up with everyday operational expenses, roughly one in four have financial concerns about retirement and 18 percent say they don't know where to go for financial assistance. Approximately 12 percent of business owners in general expressed the same unawareness.
Small business owners who are having trouble financially may want to talk about it with their local chamber of commerce, which serves the business community.
Similar to other countries, Mexico sees it's fair share of crime each year, despite officials' best attempts to quell the rate of violence on city streets and within communities. While these safety concerns are important to address and require 100 percent effort from locals committed to tamping down disorderly conduct, many Mexicans have been able to counter crime. They've done this through song and dance, effectively recommitting themselves to what makes up a significant component of Mexican culture.
According to Highbrow Magazine, many Mexican youth have turned to music to air their frustrations about the rate of violence in the country, particularly in Ciudad Juarez. While music serves as the vehicle in which to impart what these youth feel about the high rate of crime, what their most concerned about is that their message gets through to those who listen loud and clear. That's because these youth have developed a new genre of music called "Nueva Ola Fronteriza," or new border wave.
What gives the genre its distinction is how it differs from some of the genres that are in vogue today. The magazine notes that several types of music, such as "Narco Corridos," or drug ballads, foolishly sensationalize the illegal narcotics culture in Mexico, which is further exacerbated by drug cartels that mass produce and sell them.
The wholesome, positive message emanating from nueva ola fronteriza has helped make some bands in Mexico household names. Highbrow Magazine reports that Maldita Vecindad has become so popular that major advertisers now send money to the band members when they promote their products.
Music industry professionals believe new genre is built to last
The ultimate goal of bands like Maldita Vecindad and Pajaros Sin Alas – roughly translated as Birds Without Wings – is to replace the narco corrido genre with nueva ola fronteriza, not only in Mexico, but throughout the world. The magazine notes how since 2004, bands that sing songs glamorizing the drug culture in Mexico have gained somewhat of a following in the United States. In fact, the genre produces an estimated $300 million per year for the music industry in Mexico, according to estimates from the BBC. Los Angeles is perhaps the drug ballad genre's largest market. Los Tigres – a popular band whose songs fall into this classification – sold 500,000 copies in the U.S. after the release of its latest album, many of which were in California's most-populous city.
Officials are hopeful that the glory days for these bands that sensationalize drug use are numbered, as already, stadiums that were once filled with people celebrating narco corrido are now brimming with people swaying to the tunes of the new border wave genre, Highbrow Magazine reports.
Dancing and music are emblematic of Mexican and Latino culture. Recently, Latino Appreciation Day was celebrated in Salt Lake City, Utah at the Capitol Building. One of the ways in which the city recognized the occasion was through a performance done by Viva El Folklore, who went through an elaborate dance routine in front of dozens of Utahns on March 13.
Latino music, of course, isn't confined to Mexico. Variations on the genre are found throughout South America, especially in Brazil. According to Fox News Latino, with Brazil hosting the 2016 Summer Olympics, there's been a renewed sense of interest in Brazilian music throughout the world, led by popular artists like Lucenzo, Taio Cruz, Jarina De Marco and Nelly Furtado.
When workers have some spare cash and their families are taken care of after completing a money transfer, sports fans will splurge now and then on some NBA tickets, where they can witness live and in person the world's best basketball players taking center state. And with many of the NBA's fans originating from Latin America, over the past several years, the players within the league have acknowledged them with a special recognition program.
Since the 2006-07 season, the National Basketball Association has paid tribute to its fans with Hispanic and Latino roots with its "Noche Latina" program, which is Spanish for Latin Night. In the cities where the Hispanic community represents a considerable share of the overall population, the players wear special jerseys. For example, when the Miami Heat are playing at home, jerseys read "El Heat." And in San Antonio, the Spurs wear jerseys that say "Los Spurs."
Other cities that participate in Noche Latina are Orlando, Los Angeles, Phoenix, Chicago and New York.
Saskia Sorrosa, vice president of Hispanic marketing for the NBA, said that this outreach program has benefited both the players and the league's most diehard fans.
"The Noche Latina program is the perfect example of the ongoing commitment by the NBA to celebrate diversity as part of the fabric of our game," said Sorrosa. "This month-long celebration will bring the excitement of the NBA to Hispanic fans in ways that are culturally relevant."
Since the program was first launched seven years ago, players wore the jerseys during the month of March. They continue to do so today, as many of the games that have been played in the third month of the year have brought considerable attention from fans as well as the media. The first Noche Latina game was played on March 2 between the Chicago Bulls and Brooklyn Nets at the United Center.
It isn't just different uniforms that makes Noche Latina games special. Fans – whether they're of Hispanic descent or not – are encouraged to participate in the celebration as well, as the home team will play Latin-inspired music during time-outs and at halftime. Prizes and competitions take place during breaks in the action also.
The NBA announced 15 Noche Latina games for the month of March. While many have already passed by, there are still several that have yet to be played, including one on March 14 when Los Spurs play the Mavericks, March 22, which pits El Magic against the Oklahoma City Thunder. March 27 will close out the schedule, as Los Bulls face the league's best team – El Heat. The NBA champion Heat are currently on a 20-game winning streak, with a 49-14 win-loss record.
Hispanic players well represented in NBA
Over the years, the NBA's players have become increasingly diversified, as many players originate from overseas. There are currently 18 foreign-born Hispanic players in the league, including Luis Scola of the Phoenix Suns, Manu Ginobili of the San Antonio Spurs, Gustavo Ayon of the Milwaukee Bucks and Ricky Rubio of the Minnesota Timberwolves.
The NBA as a brand hasn't only made inroads among Hispanic countries. It's also earned a following in other countries that aren't known for basketball, such as China and India.
Matthew Brabants, vice president of business operations for global media distribution, told The Boston Globe that the NBA understands the importance of sports for many countries and isn't trying to replace national pastimes.
"We're not trying to take on cricket," said Brabants, referring to India. "But if we could be a strong number two in a country like India with more than a billion people, well, that's a pretty great feat."
In partnership with The Urban Land Institute, global banking firm Citi and business publication The Wall Street Journal declared Medellin, Colombia to be the winner of its annual "City of the Year" competition.
Each year, these organizations field hundreds of thousands of entries from people around the world who submit suggestions for the city they believe to be the most innovative, based on the urban centers that are located in the metro area. The list was narrowed down to 200 cities after organizers for the contest evaluated the various cities' characteristics, such as how efficiently land was used, investments made in economic development, educational successes and human capital investments, infrastructure as well as the potential for future growth.
After much debate, Medellin earned the title, narrowly beating out Tel Aviv and New York City.
Anthony Cenname, publisher of The Wall Street Journal Magazine, said Medellin's recognition as a paragon of innovation and improvement is richly deserved.
"Medellin stands today as an example for many cities around the world, because despite having lived very dark and difficult times 20 years ago, [they] have been undergoing a true metamorphosis," said Cenname. "Going from pain and fear to hope, and now from hope to be a place filled with life, the city has known how to innovate in every step, both in social programs, urban developments or the combination of both and this has been key in the success of this process."
Bernardo Norena, president of Citi Colombia, added that the City of the Year designation does wonders for Medellin's people, as it may encourage more investors to devote their resources toward the city, providing a better life for the country's citizens overall.
Medellin Mayor Anibal Gaviria couldn't be happier about Medellin's coronation, stating recently that the recognition is a "reason for joy on the part of every one of the 2.5 million inhabitants of our city," according to BBC News.
Medellin now seen in more positive light
At one time, Medellin received a considerable amount of press coverage due to having a high crime and drug rate. In 2012, The New York Times published a piece on the annual homicide rate in Medellin, which 20 years ago was 381 for every 100,000 people – one of the highest rates in the world.
But city organizers have been able to deal with the crime issue by implementing sweeping reforms that have enabled officials to crack down on crime and bring a greater sense of safety to the city's 2.7 million inhabitants, according to Census data.
Perhaps the best indication of its safety is how popular the nightlife has become in Medellin. Author and New York Times contributor Henry Alford recently wrote an article about his experience in the metro area that locals like to call "Ciudad de la Eterna Primavera," or the City of the Eternal Spring. He noted that area bars and restaurants were bustling with people, many of whom had their eyes glued to mounted television sets that were showing a soccer game being televised. Similar to what football is in America, soccer is to Colombia, as it's a passion for many of the city's people.
Restaurant dining is similarly popular with eateries like Carmen, Bonuar and Ajiacos y Mondongos providing a variety of local favorites like tripe soup, ajiaco and cazuela con frijoles, or beef with beans.
Latin American natives perhaps have the best understanding of the type of quality and delicious taste Mexico-based produce has, seeing as how they're from there and spent much of their life enjoying the fine cuisine there. Some individuals may favor it so much that they're willing to send money to Mexico in return for a shipment of fresh fruits and vegetables from their local farmer's market.
But what these same individuals may not realize is that the fruits that they eat in the U.S. could very well be from Mexico, especially if one of their favorites things to eat are avocados.
As its name suggests, avocados from Mexico is a business that operates out of Mexico and mass produces the pear-shaped fruit for markets around the world through exports. And while the company has long served the U.S. it has recently stepped its marketing campaign in order to encourage more people to enjoy the fine tastes of Mexico and the health benefits that come from the leathery skinned food.
Eduardo Serena, marketing director for the Avocado Producers and Exporting Packers Association of Mexico, noted that while the campaign hopes to encourage everyone to eat more avocados – thanks in large part to their richness in essential fats, vitamins and minerals – its key demographic are Hispanic consumers.
He also stated that since the Super Bowl, demand for avocados has been swift and with the NCAA college basketball tournament just around the corner, APEAM expects sales to continue operating in the black.
"Avocados from Mexico will keep the momentum going by supplying the right volume, quality and sizing, as well as powerful marketing programs through the coordinated efforts of APEAM and [Mexican Hass Avocado Importers Association]," said Serena.
Many grocery stores taking part in marketing campaign
Throughout much of the U.S., APEAM and Avocados from Mexico have set up display cases promoting avocados in grocery stores and supermarkets. Some of the signs show pictures of NCAA college basketball players taking the ball to the rim, with headlines over the picture like "Guacamole – A Slam Dunk." Guacamole is a type of dip often served at party gatherings that's primarily composed of mashed avocado, mixed in with various seasonings, diced tomato, onions, garlic and occasionally chili peppers.
Not only does avocado consumption enable Mexicans to get reacquainted with their Latino roots, but the fruit is also one of the healthiest foods one can eat. According to MyHealthNewsDaily, including avocados into one's regular diet can help improve a wide variety of well-being indicators. Researchers from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey came to this conclusion after reviewing health statistics gathered between 2001 and 2008, following people who ate avocados regularly with those who didn't. The health experts discovered that people who ate the fruit frequently were more likely to have higher levels of HDL – which is the "good" type of cholesterol – were more likely to have a lower body weight have a smaller waist circumference and to eat a well-balanced diet.
"These findings suggest a role for avocados in improving dietary quality and possibly reducing the risk of metabolic syndrome in the United States," the report stated. "Further research is needed to verify this epidemiological data and study the potential association between increased intake of avocados and other dietary components."
While avocados are one of the few fruits that has fat, it's primarily comprised of the monounsaturated kind, which health experts say are crucial to a health heart, skin and reducing the risk of disease. These fats are also found in oils and nuts such as olive oil and almonds.
Whether it's a fad diet or favorite food, it's not unusual for a country or given region to see a certain food suddenly become popular. And one of the latest food crazes is for a high-protein grain called quinoa.
To people who aren't too familiar with the health world, quinoa – which is pronounced "KEEN-wah"- may sound like a food that has only recently become widely talked and consumed. In reality, it's been grown for thousands of years and helped contribute to many developed or developing countries' economic health – the same places U.S.-based immigrants send money to, specifically in Central and South America.
Quinoa is similar in appearance to rice and is traditionally cooked in the same way, mainly by boiling it at a high temperature. However, unlike rice, it's very high in protein, which is unusual for grains. Even more unusual is the fact that it contains the same number of amino acids found in meat sources, which are the building blocks of muscle
An ever increasing number of health professionals are recommending their clients include quinoa into their diets, as studies have shown that it can help people lose weight when it's implemented into a well-balanced meal plan that's complemented with regular exercise. Because of this increased popularity, it has put strains on farmers to produce as much as possible quickly.
Bolivian farmers' stretched to the limit
According to The Associated Press, this has been the case for many Bolivian farmers, who have attempted to stay on top of the high rate of demand by mass producing quinoa in large quantities. Doing so can bring significant returns for the people selling it, as on the open market, the popular health food product is worth more than $3,000 for every 2,000 pounds that are produced.
And international leaders have recently coronated quinoa as one that's worthy of worldwide acclaim. According to the Food and Agriculture Department of the United Nations, 2013 was recently declared as the "International Year of Quinoa.
At the United Nations headquarters in New York City, UN Sec. Gen. Ban Ki-moon made the announcement along with Evo Morales president of Bolivia. Peru President Nadine Heredia – the country where most quinoa is produced – was also in attendance.
"Today we are here to recruit a new ally in the fight against hunger and food insecurity: quinoa," said Graziano da Silva, director general of the FAO.
She added that quinoa is truly unique, not only because it's been around since 1200 AD, but also for its nutritional benefits, prompting many to consider it to be a "superfood," or one that's replete with nutrients. For example, not only does quinoa contain all of the body's essential amino acids but it's also a carbohydrate that's gluten free. Gluten is a type of protein many people are allergic to traditionally found in food containing wheat.
"This has been an extraordinary grain cultural foundation and a staple in the diet of millions of people across the Andes for thousands of years," said Ki-moon. "Quinoa is now ready to receive global recognition."
Another characteristic of quinoa is that it can be grown in a variety of climates. FAO notes that thanks to its adaptability to temperatures, quinoa can grow at sub-freezing temperatures – even as low as 17 degrees Fahrenheit.
The Whole Grain Council has designated quinoa as its "Grain of the Month" for March. There are over 120 different varieties of it, much of which derives from Bolivia and Peru. This has brought a tremendous amount of business for these two South American countries – bringing $87 million in export sales to the respective nations.