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Healthy Jamaican Foods
Nutritious and Delicious Jamaican Dishes You Must Try

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Healthy Jamaican Foods | Ackee and Saltfish with DumplingsHealthy Jamaican Foods (Ackee and Saltfish with Dumplings)

by Venesha Johnson | Associate Writer

Eating healthily, or having dietary restrictions shouldn’t mean not trying the local fare when vacationing. It definitely is no problem in Jamaica! Healthy Jamaican food options can be easily found on the island. All you have to do is ask.

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We have great fast food and street food options on the island that you should try if you want or are able to. However, if you are more conscious about what goes into your body, whether for health reasons or otherwise, you need not worry too much about a trip to Jamaica.

The average Jamaican diet calls for organic, locally sourced ingredients so naturally, an authentic Jamaican meal would be ideal for you. Even our methods of preparing our dishes are generally healthier.

Most authentic Jamaican dishes are prepared over a grill, stewed or boiled. In the event, a dish does call for something you have decided to omit from your diet, don’t worry, our chefs will easily find a substitute for you. Most hotels will gladly make the exception, just let them know beforehand.

But let’s get to the reason you are here! These healthy Jamaican foods I’ll share with you are some options you should consider trying if you aim to eat healthily on your visit.

What Are Some Healthy Jamaican Foods?

Ackee and Saltfish

Not only is this dish great for breakfast, lunch and dinner, but it’s also our national dish and is super tasty. Not to mention, highly nutritious! Ackee is filled with dietary fibre that helps with digestive health and healthy fats that is great for reducing cravings.

A serving of ackee and saltfish has just about 150 calories and around 1 gram of carbs, making it the ideal meal for those on a ketogenic or high-fat diet.

This dish can be paired with just about anything, depending on your eating habits.

The vegan option is just as easy to prepare and it doesn’t skimp on taste either. By just omitting the saltfish and having just ackee instead, you can have a taste of Jamaica without sacrificing the taste of the meal or your eating habits.


This is a popular vegetable that is frequently eaten for breakfast. It is normally steamed with other vegetables like cabbage and peppers, or with seafood, like salted codfish.

It is a staple in Jamaican cuisine and is also had as a side dish. It is very low in calories and carbs. If you'd like, you can check out this recipe for yummy callaloo dishes. See also Jamaican Cabbage Recipe | Healthy And Delicious Jamaican Dish


One thing for sure is that Jamaicans will be preparing a big pot of soup on Saturdays. However, you can get soups at most restaurants throughout the week as either a breakfast or lunch option. Our soups are usually rich with vegetables like pumpkins, corn, cho cho, among many others.

In most cases, it includes pork, chicken or beef but Jamaica has many vegetarians and pescatarians (usually for religious reasons). Because of this, there are options for what we call an ital version of the soup. It generally has the same ingredients but without the meat and processed seasonings. It is usually filled with beans and nuts to replace the lack of meat protein or fish tea for those on a strictly fish diet.

Jerk Chicken

When you think of Jamaica and food, isn’t jerk chicken one of the first meals that come to mind? Not only is jerk chicken tasty, but it is also highly nutritious and is a meal you are likely to order at pretty much any establishment.

It is very low in carbs, if you are on a weight loss journey, pair it with a simple salad, perfect for lunch or dinner. If you would rather not have chicken, Jamaicans jerk everything. Try jerked pork, fish, lobster or shrimp instead.

Rice Dishes

Jamaicans also have a way of turning dishes that are typically plain and unhealthy into a tastier and healthier version. Take rice, for example, we have upgraded plain rice by adding red peas, or what is also called kidney beans or by adding vegetables like pumpkin or Callaloo. These add a ton of vitamins and minerals to what would have been a simply starchy meal.

Stew Peas

From Red Kidney Beans we also make stew peas, which is exactly what it sounds like. This is generally a midweek dinner item which is easily prepared and is very nutritious. It is usually prepared with pigtails, beef or chicken but again, it can easily become a vegan dish by just omitting the animal products.

The dish is prepared with natural seasonings, coconut milk and little to no oil or butter.

It is not seen quite often at resorts, but if you do see it, you definitely should try it.

Brown Stew

Whether it is chicken, beef, pork, or fish, brown stew meals are prepared with little to no oil, extremely flavourful, healthy and delicious. Stews are usually filled with root vegetables like carrots and potatoes as well.


Healthy Jamaican Foods (Cornmeal Porridge)Healthy Jamaican Foods (Cornmeal Porridge)

Porridge is a key breakfast food in the Jamaican household. While we do have a oatmeal now and then, our porridges are usually a little more filling and nutritious than that. It could be plantain, banana, cornmeal, hominy corn or maybe a combination of these ingredients.

What I love about porridge is that it is very healthy and filling. Banana and plantain porridges for example are loaded with iron, calcium and potassium. Drinking them will not be a laborious task either, they are delicious.

Another great thing about our porridges is that they are highly customizable. The typical way to sweeten them is with sugar and condensed milk. However, you can easily switch these out for plant-based milk options such as the ever reliable Jamaican classic, coconut milk or almond milk and honey for a more natural sweetener that is just as flavourful. Some people forgo sweetening altogether, it’s up to you.

What Is The Healthiest Jamaican Food?

It will be very difficult to choose any specific Jamaican food and say it is the most healthy. Most Jamaican foods are prepared healthily, with natural ingredients which contributes to all the dishes being healthy. Whether it is jerk chicken, rice and peas or soups.

Why Is Jamaican Food So Healthy?

Jamaican food is very healthy because of two reasons. Firstly, the food is grown right here for the most part with very few chemicals during the growing stages. Because we generally visit the market weekly, most of our fruits and vegetables do not need to be put in preservatives to make them last longer.

Secondly, because of how they are prepared. Most of our foods are either grilled or steamed or stewed. While we do use manufactured or powdered seasonings, it is always encouraged to use natural herbs and spices at all times and not be reliant on just powdered seasonings for a tasty meal.

Finding healthy Jamaican foods won't be difficult. The process of cooking in Jamaica sometimes takes a little longer but boy, is it worth it!

Is Eating Jerk Chicken Healthy?

Yes, Jerk Chicken is very healthy! It is low in carbohydrates, is prepared with natural seasonings and does not include the use of butter/oil.

Whether you are vegan, celiac, pescatarian or any other dietary journey you have chosen, it will not stop you from enjoying all Jamaica has to offer. Your trip to Jamaica will be a happy and healthy one. Healthy Jamaican foods have no limit.

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References & Sources For Healthy Jamaican Foods

  1. Jamaican Vegan Recipes - Healthier Steps,
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