South Americans are culturally influenced by its indigenous peoples, the historic connection with Iberian Peninsula and Africa, and the impact of mass culture from the United States of America, alongside waves of immigrants from around the globe.
The traditional diet is largely plant based, with many high protein grains such as quinoa, as well as a wide variety of fruits and vegetables. They eat locally produced food, spend time cooking from scratch, and sit down to eat with friends and family rather than snacking on the go. The slow food traditions of the past linger today in most of South America.
South Americans typically eat three meals and one or two snacks daily. Milk is usually not consumed as a beverage but used in fruit-based drinks and coffee, and milk-based desserts are popular. Fruits, vegetables, and nuts are eaten in abundance. Cassava flour and meal are common in many areas.
Common food choices associated within cultural group.
Grain group: Amaranth (corn, rice, quinoa) and wheat products.
Vegetable group: ahipa, arracacha, calabaza, cassava, green peppers, hearts of palm, kale, okra, oca, onions, rosella, squash, sweet potatoes, yacon, yams.
Fruit group: avocadoes, abiu, acerola, apples, banana, caimito, casimiroa, cherimoya, feijoa, guava, grapes, jackfruit, jabitocaba, lemons, limes, lulo, mammea, mango, melon, olives, oranges, palm fruits, papaya, passion fruit, peaches, pineapple, pitanga, quince, sapote, strawberries.
Milk, yogurt and cheese group: milk and cheese.
Meat, fish, eggs and nuts group: beef, frog, goat, guinea pig, llama, mutton, pork, rabbit; chicken, duck, turkey; a variety of fish, shellfish; nuts.
Fats and sweets group: palm oil, olive oil, butter; sugar cane, brown sugar, honey.