Soul food consists of a selection of foods traditional in the cuisine of African Americans. It is also considered comfort food for African Americans. The history behind it arises from when Africans were slaves and named it food for survival. It is taught that Europeans fed their slaves workers cheaply, meaning often giving them leftovers. Somehow forcing the captives to eat or cook with the ingredients at hand. Nowadays, it is part of the African American culture and mostly cooked during holiday seasons.
Nevertheless, Soul food became a “questionable” diet. It brought up lots of debates which enclosed the big question: is it healthy? Does it not somehow perpetuate pervasive health disparities in the black culture? Does it contribute to the multitude health concerns afflicting African Americans such as diabetes, high blood pressure, heart problems?
Some people argue that Soul food does not cause any problems to health since it consists of myriad of beans and all sort of greens. They used the case of George Rene Francis, a black man who died at 112 years old and whom shared to a reporter before passing away that he loved to eat “Soul Food” and considered to have lived a healthy life. However, some argue that the case of Mr Francis is amazing and of course, an exception. Dr. Taylor whom knows that case pretty well contends because of the sedentary lifestyles of African American, stress, smoking that eating too much soul food might be problematic to the body.
In aid to the various questions embedded around the term Soul Food, Oldways created a pyramid; African Heritage Diet Pyramid. It is made for any persons of African descendant of everywhere to familiarize them to their healthy heritage diet. Moreover, other persons like Jessica Harris encourage people of African descent to take pride in Soul food cuisine since it is based on fresh seasonal vegetable.
Other persons propose that a reinvention in the culinary heritage will also be helpful in improving the African-American diet. An entrepreneur Williams published a cookbook “Neo soul” for that matter. Dietitians are teaching family chefs how to flavor collard greens with smoked turkey instead of pork fat. Black churches are serving on Sundays’ dinners: baked chicken and fruit, instead of fried chicken and biscuits.Sylvia Woods from Harlem states “the problem is the way we prepare it”. Indeed, generally, Soul food includes healthy vegetables such as dark leafy greens, sweet potatoes and cholesterol lowering black-eyed peas. However, problem arises when those ingredients are cooked with fat back, ham hock bacon, salt, that add saturated fat, calories and sodium to Africans Americans’ meals.
Thus, modification to Soul food recipes is important for the African American population since studies show that they are more susceptible to certain morbidity than other ethnicities. Take a look at this video on tips on how to adjust the cooking method. And always read the labels to monitor amount of sodium present.
Continue enjoying Black History month with heart healthy Soul Food 😉