The first week of February is African Heritage and Health Week. This week honors the culture’s ancestral food and the power it has to change the way we eat today. In the past, ‘soul food’ has represented African American culture. Rich in fried, oil-soaked, and sugary foods, ‘soul food’ is connected to growing waistlines and cardiovascular issues. Dietitians suggest that individuals counteract these adverse side effects by traveling back in time and adopting the African Heritage Diet. In 2011 health officials created the African Heritage Diet Food Pyramid to reflect the cultures’ true gastronomical roots.
Despite the African Heritage Diet’s ability to change the health of its followers, it is not readily spoken about in the medical, health, or wellness industries. But there may be potential for this to change. Culturally rooted diets such as the Mediterranean Diet and the Nordic Diet are highly praised for their health benefits. These diets have strong followings and have inspired many cookbooks, news articles, and scientific studies. With overlapping health benefits and parameters, the African Heritage Diet should be more widely practiced. Below are some key takeaways of the diet that you adopt today!
Ancestral Africans participated in agriculture and sustained on a diet that focused on vegetables, beans, tubers, grains, roots, and greens. Greens were and are such a staple in this diet that they make up the base on the pyramid and with good reason. Greens have linked to lowering inflammation and fighting cancer. They also provide a large amount of Vitamin K and are high in antioxidants. For a full look at the African Food Heritage Pyramid here.
Spice it Up
As a diet that focuses on whole foods, those that are used to processed food might question how meals will taste. The African Heritage Diet does not skimp on flavor. It encourages the use of spices and herbs to add excitement and variety.
In African Heritage, diet meat is an accessory. It supplements a plate filled with vegetables and grains. In addition to minimizing meat in general, the diet advises consuming mostly fish and seafood. Which are generally less fatty, not to mention more sustainable for the environment. Fatty meat and red meats have been linked to cancer, which may be another reason why they are left out of this pyramid.
Ditch the Deserts/Dairy
The very top of the African Heritage Diet Food pyramid houses sugar and dairy products. While these items are not necessary for a balanced diet, people do eat them. Including them in the pyramid acknowledges this.
You are bound to see positive health benefits from the African Heritage diet whether you decide to try it out for a week or to adopt it for a more significant amount of time.
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