Can the African-American Diet be Made Healthier Without Giving up Culture — York College / CUNY

African-Americans have dietary preferences born from cultural influences and necessity. The preference for a detail type of cuisine called soul food has resulted in assorted health problems for African-Americans. Soul food typically involves fried foods and lots of fatty meats prepared with rich gravies. African-Americans associate these foods with social interactions and besides with their history of slavery. Therefore any efforts to get them to eat early types of healthier foods are met with electric resistance and are seen as trying to eradicate Black acculturation. different sources have shown that it is still possible to eat the foods associated with person food in a healthy way so that African-Americans can overcome their high rates of fleshiness and cardiovascular disease .
Whenever most african-american families get together, their social interactions are centered around food. A type of cuisine called soul food is identical popular among African-Americans, specially the ones who live in the South. It is more than just a type of cuisine. It signifies the history of African-Americans in America and is seen as an integral character of Black culture. unfortunately, soul food is not a healthy type of food, and African-Americans have some of the highest rates of fleshiness and heart disease because of eating this type of food. The different publications used to research this subject will answer questions about the effects of cultural influences on the person food diet, the health effects of eating this food on African-Americans, and what can be done to encourage healthier eating habits. tied though the typical person food diet is not very healthy, it is potential to make the food healthy without giving up the acculturation .
What Effect Have Cultural Influences Had on the Soul Food Diet?

In regulate to assess how cultural influences have affected the african-american diet, it is necessary to look concisely at the history of African-Americans in the United States. In her article, “ Where Settlers, Slaves and Natives Converged, a Way of Eating Was Born, ” Geneva Collins ( 2007 ) discussed the history of southerly cuisine. According to her article, a convergence of different types of foods caused by the cultural fusion of the English settlers, Native Americans, and African slaves was the basis of Southern cuisine. The african slaves learned how to fry, boiling point, and roast dishes using pork barrel, pork barrel fatness, corn, sweet potatoes, and local green leafy vegetables which were the styles of cooking used by the british, french, Americans, and Spanish ( Collins, 2007, p. F01 ). The native Americans influenced a bunch of the cook techniques and dishes prepared by the african slaves. distinctive southerly cuisine ; such as corn whiskey pudding, pumpkin proto-indo european, Brunswick stew, and hominy grits ; are examples of this influence. The african slaves brought black-eyed peas and rice, yams, gumbo, and watermelon from their area ( “ History, ” 2006 ) .
A lot of the foods that Black Americans corrode nowadays are influenced by the dominant american polish. The typical western diet consists of high amounts of fatty and salt, and meals are centered around kernel rather of vegetables. In her article “ Soul Fooled ? Eating ‘ Black ’ May Be Healthier than You Think, ” Egypt Freeman ( 1996 ) described this offspring. She mentioned that the original African slave diet consisted of whole grains, fruits, and vegetables. The african slaves besides cooked their food over open pits or fireplaces. This fitter direction of eating persisted over many decades until more Black Americans became acclimated to the dominant western culture. According to Lauren Schwann, M.S., R.D., a Pennsylvania based nutritional adviser, African-Americans in the early depart of the hundred “ weren ’ thyroxine as reliant upon processed and refined foods… Sharecroppers ate off the down and even black folks who traveled to the cities still kept gardens to grow fresh fruits and vegetables ” ( in Freeman, 1996 ). A U.S. Department of Agriculture survey found that african-american adults obtained about 35 percentage of their calories from adipose tissue and 12 percentage from saturated fatten. nutriment experts say that 30 percentage or less of calories should be from adipose tissue ( Clark, 1999, p. C10 ). These results are partially because of African-Americans adopting more of the eating habits of the dominant allele western culture .
In african-american culture, food has been the center of social interaction. Delores James ( 2004 ) found that African-Americans in north cardinal Florida felt that eating healthier food mean giving up separate of their culture. The fry fish, yams, ham hocks, fried chicken and gravy are foods corrode as part of Sunday dinner, which is a big time for african-american families to be in concert with immediate and extended family to talk while eating good food. This ritual is seen as being an integral part of african-american culture. The popular perception that many soul food dishes were created from the scraps that slave owners gave to their slaves is another rationality why many African-Americans are reluctant to give up these foods. Michael Twitty, a descendant of enslave colonial Virginians and a culinary historian who specializes in african-american food, disputes this perception. He said that the slaves had gardens, and they were allowed to hunt and fish ( Collins, 2007, p. F01 ). Regardless of this fact, soul food has heavy connections with african-american history, and that is why many African-Americans are reluctant to give up eating soul food. The reason why a lot of African-Americans serve the distinctive soul food is that they want to be considered commodity hosts or hostesses, and social graces prevent guests from asking for healthier foods. In addition, many friends and relatives are insubordinate to eating healthier types of soul food. This may be because they feel that it will not taste as good ( James, 2004, p. 350 ) .
What Health Effects Have Been Linked to the African-American Soul Food Diet?
Since the distinctive person food diet involves large amounts of meat, fatty, and carbohydrate, there is a big risk of health related illnesses such as fleshiness, heart disease, and stroke resulting from eating this type of diet. African-Americans typically choose foods such as fry chicken, barbecued ridicule, baked macaroni and cheese, sugary fruit drinks, and sweets such as sweet potato proto-indo european, which are distinctive soul food meals. In his article, “ Exercise and Good Diet Play a major Role in Longevity of Most African-Americans, ” Donald Scott ( 1999 ), writes about the health problems that plague minority groups. many ethnic groups have higher incidences of diabetes, high blood pressure, cancer, and affection disease when compared to the white population. Another report published in The Journal of Behavioral Medicine found that 35 percentage of all cancer deaths in the U.S may be attributed to dietary factors. The study found that fewer than one quarter of adults consume the recommend five or more daily servings of fruits and vegetables, and minorities consume even less than that. This has contributed to unusually high rates of cancer incidences in African-Americans. A survey done by the U.S. Department of Agriculture found that 88 percentage of African-Americans feed no dark green leafy vegetables, and about 94 percentage had no deep yellow vegetables on any given day of the survey. Most african-american adults fall curtly of the Recommended Dietary Allowances for vitamin E, vitamin B-6, calcium, magnesium, and zinc. They besides obtained about 35 percentage of their calories from fat and 12 percentage from saturated adipose tissue. Nutritionists recommend that 30 percentage or less of calories be from adipose tissue and less than 10 percentage from saturated fat ( Clark, 1999, p. C10 ). According to another article in The Journal of the American Medical Association, African-Americans have the highest fleshiness preponderance at 33.9 percentage ( Gostin, 2007, p. 87 ) .
In her article, “ african-american Food and Nutrition : From survival to Choice, ” Barbara Dixon ( 1997 ) points out some interest tidbits on how soul food is prepared. Since early African-Americans worked long, arduous hours in the fields, the food they ate had to be hearty. As a leave rice, beans, and greens were cooked with ham hocks, bacon, and “ fat back ” ( p. 3B ). Corn meal and flour were added to a lot of dishes to add more calories and season. Many of the meats they ate were preserved with salt, and they fried many of their foods. While this method worked for African-Americans in the early part of the hundred, it has just contributed to the high rates of fleshiness in the more sedentary, modern day African-American. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention published a report card in 2002 stating that african-american men have the highest rates of prostrate cancer and high blood pressure in the earth and are twice arsenic likely as white men to develop diabetes. Lorelei Di Sogra, Ed.D., R.D., director of the National Cancer Institute ’ s “ 5 A Day for Better Health Program ” says that, “ Diet is a risk factor for many diseases that affect Black men ” ( in “ National ”, 2002 ) .
What Can Be Done to Encourage Healthier Eating Habits for African-Americans?
As pointed out earlier, it has been unmanageable to encourage African-Americans to eat healthier due to their impregnable cultural beliefs regarding food. To them food is about preserving cultural traditions and fostering strong familial ties. therefore, a good approach to encouraging healthier eating habits would involve teaching people to cook person food in healthier ways such as bake, roasting, or broiling meats alternatively of frying. The Philadelphia Tribune suggests that the food pyramid be changed to reflect the unlike types of food that African-Americans consume. For case, the boodle and cereal group could include foods like corn bread, grits, and hominy. The vegetable group could include sweet potatoes, coleslaw, and okra. The reasoning behind this is that possibly Black people can eat a more balance diet by picking from the foods that they are already used to ( “ Black Culture ”, 2004 ). This is significant because according to the Tennessee Tribune article “ ADA Survey Says African-Americans ’ Nutrition Attitudes Differ in Many Ways ” ( 1997 ), 34 percentage of Black Americans find the Food Guide Pyramid “ very utilitarian ” in making food choices ( p. 24 ) .
According to Wiley Mullins, owner of Uncle Wiley ’ s southern Classics, many traditional african-american foods are healthy. Yams, sweet potatoes, and collard greens are examples of foods that are high in vitamins and nutrients ( in Freeman, 1996, p. 42 ). many doctors and nutritionists agree that avoiding dairy products and eating a more establish based diet is essential for the health of African-Americans. Dr. Carolyn Coker Ross, M.D. says that, “ African-Americans need to return to a more natural way of eating. ” She besides points out that the concenter should be on being healthy, not slender, due to eating less meat and putting the emphasis on vegetables and fruit ( in Freeman, 1996, p. 42 ) .
education is besides key to helping African-Americans eat a more healthy diet. many African-Americans receive their nutritional data from television and radio. They besides tend to receive nutritional information from their doctors. It has besides been reported that many Black Americans have problems understand nutriment guidelines. According to Dixon ( 1997 ), “ Media focused on african-american audiences have much credibility, peculiarly if the sources are people of color ” ( p. 3B ). If churches and other organizations held seminars to encourage healthier eating habits, it would help the community to make healthier choices. It would besides help to teach more adults about their african ancestors and how they ate, since they ate much more differently than African-Americans do nowadays. With this cognition, they wouldn ’ t have to feel like they were giving up their polish. In a study titled “ Cultural Aspects of African-American Eating Patterns ” ( Airhihenbuwa & Kumanyika, 1996 ), it was found that many African-Americans did not know the origins of soul food and were under the premise that foods such as sweet potatoes and chicken originated in Africa. The sketch besides found that many Black Americans feel that soul food is unhealthy and that the food should be modified so that it would contain less impregnate fat and salt. It is potential to pass down goodly cooking methods to future generations of African-Americans ( Airhihenbuwa & Kumanyika, 1996 ) .
many cookbooks and person food restaurants have started to modify traditional soul food recipes so that they are healthier. It is besides important to involve the Black community in educating others on nutrition. This can be done at beauty shops, barber shops, schools, civil organizations, churches, etc. ( Dixon, 1997, p. 3B ). many nutritional experts agree that it is important to have a diet with angstrom a lot variety as potential. Black Americans can be encouraged to use other types of greens in addition to collards. many substitute foods are rich in needed nutrients. It is authoritative that they reduce the come of dairy that they consume and eat less meat with their meals. The early Africans had a rich diet of whole grains, vegetables, and fruits, and it would be beneficial for modern day African-Americans to be aware of that fact. It would be beneficial because they would be able to eat healthy without feeling that they are giving up their culture .
Making healthy foods less expensive would besides encourage healthier eating habits among African-Americans. many supermarkets in predominantly Black neighborhoods rarely carry a big excerpt of healthy foods, and when they do carry them, the prices are more than the median person can afford ( Airhihenbuwa & Kumanyika, 1996 ).

The research produced therefore far has shown that soul food is a rich people shuffle of different cultural influences and has evolved from goodly sustenance for the early on slaves to an unhealthy cuisine for the modern day African-American. Unhealthy cooking methods and a miss of variety have contributed to the perception of soul food as being insalubrious. The disproportionate total of Black people afflicted with nutritionally related diseases is immediately related to the unhealthy readiness of soul food and in the choice of foods used to prepare it. It is net from the research that it is possible for African-Americans to placid enjoy soul food in a healthier means without giving up the culture. education, healthier cooking methods, and more dietary diverseness are the keys .
ADA view says African-Americans ’ nutrition attitudes differ in many ways. ( 1997, September 15 ). The Tennessee Tribune, p. 24. Retrieved November 3, 2007, from cultural News Watch ( ENW ) database ( Document ID : 495735451 ) .
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Gostin, L.O. ( 2007, January 3 ). Law as a cock to facilitate healthier lifestyles and prevent fleshiness. The Journal of the American Medical Association, 297 ( 1 ), 87-90. Retrieved November 26, 2007, from JAMA database .
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James, D.C.S. ( 2004 ). Factors influencing food choices, dietary inhalation, and nutrition related attitudes among African-Americans : lotion of a culturally sensitive model. Ethnicity and Health. 9 ( 4 ), 349-367.

Jonsson, P. ( 2006, February 6 ). Backstory : southerly discomfort food. The christian Science Monitor, p.20. Retrieved October 9, 2007, from Lexis-Nexis database .
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