Unhealthy food traditions provide some nutrition

On special occasions, some black women serve their families and friends the ethnic soul food cuisine. However, they continue to overlook the long list of health problems that come with such a meal.

According to http://wikipedia.org, soul food is an ethnic cuisine traditionally eaten by blacks of the Southern United States. The style of cooking originated during slavery, when slaves were generally given only the left over and undesirable cuts of meat and the discarded tops of vegetables.

By custom, some soul food is cooked and seasoned with pork products. Dishes fried with either lard or hydrogenated vegetable oil, which are high in trans fat, are a contributor to high occurrences of major life threatening diseases.

According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the four leading causes of death among blacks, women particularly, are heart disease, all cancers, strokes and diabetes.

Although blacks have a healthy acceptance of a wider range of body sizes, their tolerance may lead to obesity and serious obesity-related health problems.

Some people prefer a high fat, high cholesterol diet over a low carbohydrate, low calorie diet despite the health risks.

“To cutback on my mamma’s home-cooked meals would do my health some justice, but it’s hard once you already know how it’ll taste,” said Tarika Green, 24, an art student from Tampa.

Tastefulness, along with cost, convenience and availability, are often cited as deterrents when it comes to maintaining a healthy, nutritious diet.

Most blacks, women especially, consume soul food without a significant source of exercise resulting in a shortened life span.

The Net Wellness Consumer Health Information Web site says Black women, in general, feel less guilt about over-eating and are less likely to practice unhealthy eating habits such as over-exercising and purging.

Consistent exercise and a healthy diet will reduce the chances of high blood pressure, stroke, cancer or diabetes.

“My exercise schedule lacks consistency that is definitely necessary, along with eating the proper foods,” said Cecily Parker, 23, a recent economics graduate.

To her luck, with a little tweezing here and there, certain staple food recipes of soul food meals can pronounce health benefits.

Collard greens are known to be an excellent source of vitamins and minerals (vitamins A, B6 and C; manganese; iron; omega 3 fatty acids; calcium; folic acid; and fiber).

Collard greens also contain a number of phytonutrients, which play a role in the prevention of ovarian and breast cancer.

The Caribbean favorites peas, rice and legumes are excellent and cheap sources of protein, with important vitamins, minerals and fiber.

Sweet potatoes or yams, are an excellent source of beta carotene and are known to stabilize blood sugar levels and lower insulin resistance.

Some other healthy tips are: use canola or corn oil for deep frying, olive oil instead of butter for pan frying, and turkey meat instead of pork for seasonings.

The 200o U.S. Census revealed 35 million blacks, approximately 13 percent of the total U.S. population, have a significant influence on American cuisine.

Contact Jarlyn Johnson at kuddleja@aol.com