New Research Shows Soul Food Is Major Contributor To High Blood Pressure In African-Americans
Not the fried chicken and greens!
Grandma's home cooking could be causing an array of health issues, according to a new study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association on October 2.
Researchers created a sample group of 6,897 people who did not have high blood pressure in 2003–2007 and kept track of their eating habits for nine years.
Out of the nearly 6,900 participants, 1,807 African American men and women were featured in the group. What researchers discovered was that 46 percent of Black participants and 33 percent of whites were found to have high blood pressure by the end of the nine years, according to Reuters.
The study points the finger at traditional Southern foods like fried chicken and sweets like pecan pies. For Black men, high blood pressure was attributed to Southern foods nearly half the amount compared to white men.
Soul food, also known as Southern comforts, was the main factor in the racial divide among heart disease, hypertension and high blood pressure.
"We were absolutely surprised by how important this factor was," George Howard, lead researcher of the University of Alabama at Birmingham, said.
Black women were a different case. U.S. News reports the Southern diet was responsible for 29 percent of the racial disparity. Other factors such as income, education, stress due to racism and access to more healthy food options contribute to the racial gap.
Cordialis Msora-Kasago, who is a dietitian and spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, suggests there are healthy alternatives to these tasty foods. With exercise and a change in diet, people don't have to abandon soul food altogether.
"Diet is something you can change," Howard pointed out. "This is not all because of underlying genetics or other factors you can't change." (End of article)
Ok, so I saw this and thought about how quite a few of us said a lot of people don't eat these foods regularly anymore. Then I scrolled down to the Twitter comments and had a huge Aha! moment because I hadn't considered it as a factor. The tweet said: Nah it's the McDonalds, Popeyes, Chipotle, taco bell and all junk food. Fast food restaurants do populate urban areas with their food deserts far more than other neighborhoods. They stay having black folks dancing or singing with fried chicken in fast food commercials; IOW, we are the targeted market. Perhaps, this is a completely plausible contributor as well. It never occurred to me because as mentioned also, nobody has the time to cook soul food anymore and many of us have abandoned it for the sake of our health and convenience. So what's really happening? Did any of you ever think of this...that not necessarily soul food but fast food as the culprit? I believe we as a group eat more of it than others.
If any of you have a moment and are curious, Mikki Kendall/Karnythia's twitter handle is the first link in this post. Her line of reasoning makes sense to me. A lot of sense. This article is linked from her Twitter timeline and the first link will guide you through the points she made. Actually, I just read the majority of the timeline and a lot of points were echoed here with a few that I hadn't thought of by other posters such as white southerners eating the same diet but are not plagued with high bp as we are. The conclusion drawn is clear; the one thing not alike between us and them is the stress of racism, every day, for centuries, and making it's way into our DNA coding.
Also, I got what @Menina Preta's point was about underlying genetic factors that are unique to us contributing. In my case, my bad cholesterol is off the charts and I participate in almost zero dietary bad habits that can cause it. The ONLY time it gets into normal range is when I completely abstain from meats, oils, and sugars which just happen to be things I don't eat a lot of anyway. The second I add a bit of it back, up it goes again. My girls have slightly elevated levels as well and they are super active and eat like I eat for the most part. As a community, we need to get serious about our health, our bad habits that worsen those genetic components, and also educating our people on proper nutrition, As someone mentioned earlier, a LACK of healthy nutrition is just as problematic. What does it matter if you do have access to food but it has no nutritional value? There are plenty of malnourished obese people walking around.
ETA: Someone already compiled Karnythia's tweets so I'm adding so you don't have to go to Twitter if you wanted to read it.
A. An actual soul food meal is 2/3 vegetables. Meat was expensive and was often used more as seasoning than as a main ingredient. B. Quality of ingredients matters (hi, let's talk not just about food deserts, but the subpar food sold in low income areas)
B. Soul food takes time to prepare. The average person actually doesn't have it every week much less every day. Can you guess what is a common factor in low income areas? Fast food. And yes some of that bills itself as soul food. It isn't.
Seriously go into the average "soul food" restaurant & ask about Hoppin' John. Or cabbage (any kind of cabbage), hell ask about tomato relish. The sweet potatoes will be canned & loaded with sugar & no cinnamon, vanilla or even pecans. They won't have corn relish either
No pickled watermelon, no tomato pie, because those all rely on access to fresh or nearly fresh produce.
I know we are a country that is largely ignorant of what anyone actually eats, but y'all please stop buying into this idea that food is the issue and not social conditions.
The plate in that pic isn't a weeknight meal. (Unless you have time to wash and pick greens every couple of days), it's a Sunday dinner. And lowkey, it's an odd Sunday dinner. Your grandma would have given you the greens with the sweet potatoes or white potatoes or corn.
Think back (or hell look at what's served at the house next time you're there), chances are good that even if fried chicken is served it's with potato salad, corn, greens, green beans or red beans and rice. Probably two or more of the sides to be honest.
And the fried chicken is unlikely as a weekly option, because hi, hello baked chicken is easier & let's be honest, it's still too hot to stand there with greens cooking on one burner & frying chicken on another. That's a January idea.
Pull up at your aunt's house or grandma's on a Sunday in October and she's probably breaking out the easiest meals still, even though the season for fried tomatoes is past, she's serving potato salad, fish, maybe BBQ. Chow-chow is still on the table.