photo: Giphy.com
There are some perks to growing up Latino that we may not realize affects us in a positive way. Whether it’s our family parties, mami’s homemade meals, or how much our abuelos teach us skills that we still use today, there is something special to be said about our culture. What you may not realize is that all of these things may make us happier and prolong life. In fact, Latinos may even have a higher life expectancy than people of other ethnicities. But our roots benefit us in more than one way. If you needed any more reason to keep our traditions alive, check out the hard proof below.

1. Dancing keeps you young. All that salsa dancing at family parties has paid off. A recent study presented at the American Heart Association Epidemiology Lifestyle 2016 Scientific Sessions discovered that Latin dancing helped older adults improve their physical fitness, walk faster, stave off cognitive decline, reduce stress, and build community ties. Sounds like hitting up the club this weekend isn’t a terrible idea after all.

2. We’re the happiest people. A study published in Springer's Journal of Happiness Studies found that residents of countries which rated themselves the happiest in the world, such as Colombia and Mexico, tend to have a specific allele in their DNA that may contribute to how they experience pleasure or pain — and which may increase overall feelings of happiness. However, the researchers stressed that this is not the only factor that determines how happy people are, and that further research is needed to analyze how the allele really come into play. (In other words, don't stress if you don't live in Colombia or Mexico.)

3. Being bilingual boosts our brain power. You can thank your abuela and mami for teaching you Spanish, because studies suggest that bilingual speakers are able to focus and multitask better than people who only speak one language (due to your brain's ability to inhibit one language while using another). In addition, the benefits of the bilingual brain means that it's easier for students to learn another language and it even carries into old age: A recent study found that cognitive decline was lower for bilingual elderly people than monolingual people. 

4. We're naturals at parenting. While your mom and dad's parenting skills may have seemed a bit strict, a study found that Mexican immigrant mothers may be more nurturing in some aspects of parenting than other moms. A research team from the University of California, Berkeley, looked at data collected between 2003 and 2006 after years of visiting homes observing and interviewing Mexican-born, Chinese-born, and white U.S.-born mothers of U.S.-born kids. What they discovered was that the Mexican mothers were more loving and welcoming in their homes, had fewer disputes with their spouses, and were less likely to be depressed. While researchers are not sure to what extent culture plays a role in raising children, they speculated that certain "cultural strengths" may buffer the effects of negative factors (such as poverty) that impact children. 

5. We are a bunch of smarty pants. A study conducted by researchers at Johns Hopkins University looked at about 11,000 children with immigrant parents and found that they had excelled more in academics than children with more Americanized roots. First, the children were observed between the ages of 13 through 17 and then reassessed when they were between 25 and 32 years old to see how they transitioned into adulthood. The theory behind this is that parents who immigrate to the U.S. might put more of an emphasis on teaching their kids to strive to overcome adversity than non-immigrant parents do.