American cuisine - Wikipedia
African-Americans associate these foods with social interactions and also with their history of slavery. Therefore, any efforts to get us to eat other types of healthier foods are met with resistance and are seen as trying to eradicate black culture. Different sources have shown that it is still possible to eat the foods associated with soul food in a healthier way so that African-Americans can overcome the high rates of obesity and cardiovascular disease. Most of the time when we have social interactions, it is centered around food — called soul food — especially those of us who live in the south.
It is more than just a type of cuisine; it signifies the history of African-Americans. We have some of the highest rates of obesity and heart disease because of eating this type of food. The different publications I used to research this topic will answer questions about the effects of cultural influences on the soul food diet, the health effects of eating this food on African-Americans, and what can be done to encourage healthier eating habits.
Even though the typical soul food diet is not very healthy, it is possible to make the food healthy without giving up the culture. In order to access how culture influences have effected the African-American diet, it is necessary to look briefly at the history of African-Americans in the United States.
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Different types of foods caused by the cultural fusion of the English settlers, native Americans, and African slaves was the basics of Southern cuisine. The African slaves learned how to fry, boil, and roast dishes using pork, pork fat, corn, sweet potatoes, and local green leafy vegetables which were the styles of cooking used by the British, French, Americans, and Spanish. The Africans slaves brought black-eyed peas, rice, yams, okra and watermelon from their country. A lot of the foods that Black Americans eat today are influenced by the dominant American culture.
Most of us believe that by eating healthy we are giving up part of our culture and are more reluctant to giving up the soul food. We want to be good hostesses, and social graces prevent guests from asking for healthier foods. Many friends and relatives are resistant to eating healthier types of soul food because they feel that it will not taste as good.
Let me assure you that it will. I have not used the fat pork for my vegetables in a number of years and I still cook and eat all vegetables — they taste good. Some of us ethnicities have higher risk for certain disease based on genetics, culture, food availability and lifestyle.
Traditional African American foods and African Americans
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention noted that the top three causes of death among African- Americans are heart disease, and cancer. The Center also reports that black men and women have high rates of obesity and hypertension. However, good nutrition can help prevent or improve these conditions, leading you to a healthier life. Since the typical soul food diet involves large amounts of meat, fat and sugar there is a large risk of health-related illnesses such as obesity, heart disease and stroke resulting from eating this type of diet.
African-Americans typically choose foods such as fried chicken, barbecued ribs, baked macaroni and cheese, sugary fruit drinks, and sweets such as sweet potato pie, which are typical soul food meals. Exercise and good diet play a major role in longevity of most African- Americans. Many ethnic groups have higher incidences of diabetes, hypertension, cancer, and heart disease when compared to the white population.
There is another study completed that found that 35 percent of all cancer deaths in the US may be attributed to dietary factors. The study also found that fewer than than one quarter of adults consume the recommended five or more daily servings of fruits and vegetables, and minorities consume even less than that.
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This has contributed to unusually high rates of cancer incidences in African- Americans. A recent survey done by the US Department of Agriculture found that 88 percent of African- Americans ate no dark green leafy vegetables, and about 94 percent had no deep yellow vegetables on any given day of the survey.
Most of us fall short of the recommended dietary allowances for vitamin E, Vitamin B-6, calcium, magnesium, and zinc. The report also suggested that 35 percent of their calories came from fat and 12 percent from saturated fat. Nutritionists recommend that 30 percent or less of calories come from fat and less than 10 percent from saturated fat.
Also, African-Americans have the highest obesity prevalence at Fast-food restaurants and other take-out restaurants now offer such wide-ranging selections as pizza, tacos, falafel, tandoori, egg rolls, and hamburgers. Thus, the American diet is a combination of many cultures and cuisines. To understand it, one must not only study the traditional foods and food habits of the many minority groups, but also the interaction between the majority culture and the cultures of these smaller groups.
Seventeen million people in the United States have diabetes. Key to the increasing prevalence of diabetes is the rapid growth of the disease in high-risk populations such as African Americans, Native Americans, Latinos, and Asian Americans. The growth in obesity, as well as an aging population, have also contributed to this increase.
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