Jump to navigation. The African Heritage Diet is a way of eating based on the healthy food traditions of people with African roots. This healthy way of eating is powerfully nutritious and delicious, and naturally meets the guidelines experts recommend for supporting good health. The ancestors of African Americans brought many wonderful food traditions to parts of the Caribbean, South America, and the southern states of the U.
Continue reading below to get started on the African Heritage Diet. Try any one of these steps… and then another… and another. For more inspiration, check out our free African recipes or our A Taste of African Heritage cooking classes!
Ready to get started in the kitchen? Find a class near you in our class directory , or sign up for more information about becoming a teacher. These dishes are both the culinary expressions of the Pyramid and the cultural expressions of each of the four distinct regions of African Heritage. The diseases we know today, like diabetes, heart disease, cancer, and obesity, were much less common with traditional diets in earlier times. African Americans are at higher risk for many chronic diseases compared to other Americans. According to the U.
Diet is in many cases a prominent factor in chronic diseases like these. But in fact, a healthier, more solidly traditional model can be found by looking to the foods brought to the New World by Africans, along with those they adopted here.
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In truth, African Americans on average eat more leafy green vegetables than other Americans and more legumes like black-eyed peas. African Diaspora may be a new term for many people. African Diaspora is the term commonly used to describe the mass dispersion of peoples from Africa during the Transatlantic Slave Trades, from the s to the s. The overall pattern of a plant-based, colorful diet based on vegetables, fruits, tubers and grains, nuts, healthy oils and seafood where available was shared throughout these four regions, but their cultural distinctions have reason to be celebrated.
Their tastes can be shared and tried by people everywhere.
Here is a brief description of the four healthy regional diets of African Heritage. In Central and Western Africa, traditional meals were often based on hearty vegetable soups and stews, full of spices and aromas, poured over boiled and mashed tubers or grains. In Eastern Africa, whole grains and vegetables are the main features of traditional meals, especially cabbage, kale and maize cornmeal. Today, many meals in the Horn are still prepared in halal style meaning that they include no pork, no alcohol, and meat only from animals who have died on their own.
Across Africa, couscous, sorghum, millet, and rice were enjoyed as the bases of meals, or as porridges and sides. Watermelon and okra are both native to Africa, and many believe that cucumbers are too.
Beans were eaten in abundance everywhere, especially black-eyed peas, which were often pounded into a powder for tasty bean pastes seared as fritters. The majority of traditional African American foods came straight from the garden. Cabbage, okra, tomatoes, peppers, and greens were abundant, including dandelion, mustard, collards, and turnip greens.
see Pickling vegetables was a popular way to preserve food; pickled beets, radish, cabbage, carrots, and cucumbers were enjoyed—and the list goes on! Their contribution to digestion is not zero, but it does appear to be minimal. The enzyme theory for raw foods dates back to Edward Howell, a physician who published a book on enzymes in the s, primarily citing research from the s and 30s.
We now know, however, that almost all nutrients are absorbed in the small intestine and that digestion at that stage relies almost entirely on human-generated bile and pancreatic enzymes. A corollary myth is that humans have a finite number of enzymes and that, once they are used up, these enzymes are gone. This idea, too, was hatched by Howell. But where would this packet of enzymes reside?
Howell never said. But in reality, humans make new enzymes throughout their lifetimes. Dietary detoxification is an alternative medicine concept with little scientific credibility. Usually, two organs are cited as needing detoxification: the liver and the colon. In reality, toxins can accumulate anywhere in the body, particularly in fat and fatty tissue, but also in proteins and bone.
The colon is surprisingly low in toxins, however. As for the liver, the confusion is that this organ "filters" toxins and must therefore, the reasoning goes, be loaded with toxins. But the liver is more of a chemical-processing plant than a filter; it breaks down toxins as they pass through. That is, the liver doesn't have extra toxins by virtue of it being the body's natural toxin-neutralizer. Another argument is that burning fat — in this case, on a raw vegan diet — would release toxins from the body.
But fat cells don't burn up, as if into ashes, liberating their contents. Fats cells merely get bigger or smaller, depending on the amount of fat within the cell that's used. It is unclear how much of a toxin, if any, would be set free if the fat molecule it is attached to is burned. The toxin is now free to attach to other fat molecules. If it does mobilize with other recently liberated toxins, in the case of extreme starvation , then the toxin could become toxic and overwhelm the liver.
In short, there are no foods or herbs that can magically bind and pull toxins from your blood or organs. The same would be true for cows or for any "vegan" animals that accumulate toxins in their fat; they don't cleanse themselves with their raw, plant-based diet. At best, detoxification schemes juicing, fasting can help by virtue of not placing more toxins in our body for a day or two. And a healthful, plant-rich diet with plenty of water can, in general, help your liver and kidneys process and remove toxins more effectively, McDougall said.
Healthfulness when eating a raw, vegan diet is a challenge; it's not inherent. Many on the diet do lose weight by consuming fewer calories. But weight loss should not be the ultimate goal. The most apparent problems are nutritional deficiencies, particularly for vitamins B12 and D, selenium, zinc, iron and two omega-3 fatty acids, DHA and EPA. Without taking supplements in pill form, it would be very difficult and, for B12, impossible to obtain a sufficient amount of these nutrients from raw, plant-based foods. Also, without access to a variety of foods year-round that can be eaten raw, one tends to rely on single-food sources.
If it's not nuts, then it's bananas, which are healthful perhaps at a level of one or two per day, but not when providing the majority of your calories. Some people on a raw food diet rely so much on fruit that their teeth begin to erode: from acids in the fruits that wear down the tooth enamel, from sugar promoting decay, from dried fruit another raw vegan staple sticking to the teeth and further promoting decay, and from a general mineral deficiency.
The raw diet could be more healthful than the so-called S.
But there is no evidence that, even given the resources to prepare a variety of raw foods daily, the raw vegan diet would be more healthful than the plant-based diets promoted by McDougall or Esselstyn, or than the diets that allow modest amounts of animal products. Vegans would have to ask themselves what the added benefit would be from going raw if the raw diet offers no additional moral satisfaction, other than a reduced use of cooking fuel.
One can just as well say that no other animal combines their kale and clover with tropical bananas in a high-speed blender to make the foods more palatable and digestible. Or, that no other animal plays chess.
Judging what is natural is a slippery slope. Humans around the world live to relatively similar ages on a multitude of different diets. Most of the reasonable diets that consist of grains, vegetables and meats will get you to at least age 70 if an accident or infectious disease doesn't kill you first. A traditional, animal-based diet eaten by natives of Siberia is just as natural as a traditional diet eaten by unnamed tribes in the Amazon. That said, no known human culture has ever attempted to survive solely on raw plant foods.
Foods that are good sources of potassium and low in sodium, such as potatoes, may reduce the risk of high blood pressure and stroke. Put these back in the freezer, and take them out just before you're ready to bake them. Others, such as the vegan or plant-based diet, which shuns all animal products including eggs and dairy, are winning converts. Therefore, I use poultry thighs, which have a lot of meat relative to the bone. Make sure to wring out as much of that water as you can from your grated potatoes to get maximum crispiness. Raw meat is harder to chew than cooked meat and will, hopefully, exert more cleaning action on the teeth.
It is the raw-only diet that is unnatural, because it is impossible to survive on this diet without modern conveniences such as refrigerators, storage devices and easy access to packaged foods — such as the aforementioned shelled nuts. In fact, a child raised on a raw, vegan diet without proper supplementation would likely develop severe neurological and growth problems due to a lack of vitamin B12 and other nutrients.
Adults who have eaten animal products for more than 20 years, by contrast, have the benefit of relying on bodily stores of certain key nutrients. In a natural setting, without electricity, anyone located outside of a narrow belt of land near the equators, which have year-round growth potential, would need to dedicate their entire day to growing, gathering, preserving and storing food.