Did you know that the same "healthy" diet isn't optimal for all people? In honor of Black History Month, we share the African Heritage Diet.
Learn the Basics of the African Heritage Diet for Optimal Health During Black History Month
Across North America, the month of February has been deemed either Black History Month or African Heritage Month. While students should be educated about the history of America's Black population year-round, February is particularly dedicated to celebrating all of the contributions that Black North Americans have made in society. This month, we're also acknowledging the great injustices that were done to these people along the way. It is also a great time for all Americans to learn about the African Heritage Diet.
Because Black History Month can be seen as both a reflection of the past, a celebration of the present, and a hopeful look towards the future, it's also a good time to focus on health, vitality, and living well. The African Heritage Diet has been scientifically formulated to optimize the health of North Americans who have African biological roots.
Read on to understand what the African Heritage Diet is, why it is important, what benefits you can derive from following it, who it is meant for, and how members of the Black community can specifically thrive by getting back to their roots.
An Overview of the African Heritage Diet
The African Heritage diet is a way of eating that was developed to optimize the health of people with African roots. When African people first came to North America, they incorporated different dietary elements of the surrounding regions, and some of their original food traditions were lost over time. In reality, however, many of the original food traditions of African people were incredibly healthy for their bodies and helped to provide them with the energy and nutrients they regularly need.
It was this impetus that spurred the creation of the African Heritage Diet. The food traditions that people of African Heritage initially brought over with them have become less and less common over time. Bringing back those beloved and important food traditions can not only be an opportunity to reconnect with ancestors and roots (especially during Black history month), it can also be a way to optimize health and naturally meet nutritional guidelines.
The African Heritage Diet is outlined in a food pyramid. This food pyramid shows which food groups are most important and how many servings of each type of food should be eaten. It also shows the most important food groups to limit and how much of those foods should be consumed.
The Importance of the African Heritage Diet
The African Heritage Diet is important for multiple reasons. First, it brings people back to a way of eating before there was a lot of processed, chemical-laden food. Eating so much natural, whole food affords bodies much-needed nutrients and helps to stave off or combat any diseases caused by a poor diet.
The African Heritage Diet is also important because it rekindles a focus on the food traditions of African people who moved to North or South America from the African continent.
When many people first came over, they continued to hold onto important food traditions, incorporating dishes, ingredients, and flavors into the meals that also included more Western elements. However, over time, as generations have been born and raised in the West, many of these food traditions have been lost or forgotten. Reintroducing the African Heritage Diet, at least during Black History Month, calls attention to the way that the first generations of Africans in the West ate, the meals that were popular and beloved while they lived on the continent of Africa, and the delicious flavors and meal traditions that both nourished bodies and brought families together.
The Benefits of the African Heritage Diet
There are many benefits to following the African Heritage Diet. As mentioned above, it is a link to history. The African Heritage Diet brings back a way of eating that has been lost over time, and that has given way to a modern, western way of eating. However, the benefits go beyond linking people of African heritage today to their ancestors.
Some of the most important benefits of following the African Heritage Diet include:
• Lowering the risk of high blood pressure, heart disease, and stroke
• Decreasing the risk of diabetes
• Helping to treat existing cases of diabetes
• Reducing depression and mood swings
• Achieving a healthy, stable weight
• Reducing asthma
• Lowering the chances of kidney disease
• Reducing the chances of developing glaucoma
• Ensuring babies and children have all the nutrients they need to grow
• Joining families, friends, and loved ones over the meal table and a tradition of delicious, nourishing food
• Creating community
• Spreading awareness of African heritage and African traditions beyond African Heritage Month or Black History Month
• and more.
Who the African Heritage Diet Benefits
The African Heritage Diet was scientifically-developed for people who are biologically of African heritage. But, in reality, it is a healthy diet that is meant for anyone who cares about their health and wants to use foods to protect and boost their vitality and wellness. Anyone who follows the African Heritage Diet can enjoy the benefits of a lowered risk of diabetes, heart disease, glaucoma, kidney disease, and many more dangerous health conditions. In addition, they can also help to honor a culture that greatly shaped America.
Many Afro-Caribbean foods and flavors have been incorporated into western and American culinary culture, without proper attribution to where they came from and how they became beloved in the first place. By following the African Heritage diet, you'll see how influential African heritage has been to America's overall culture—but especially in our diets. You'll also honor the people who helped introduce all of those delicious customs and ingredients, despite the adversities they faced. No matter the month, we should always be working to honor the legacy that Black Americans have built and shared with the nation, despite the injustices that were and continue to be done to them.
The African Heritage Diet Beyond Black History Month
The African Heritage Diet is an awesome way to teach your family about African history and historical culture during Black History Month. But, beyond being an important opportunity for a lesson (and a chance to eat delicious food), it's also an incredibly healthy lifestyle choice to make. The biology of people who were kidnapped and brought to the Americas unwillingly is different than white westerners who were born on the continent of North or South America. The diet takes into account these factors, as well as the health conditions that people of African heritage regularly struggle with. For that reason, it's simply a healthy choice to make for your family year-round, to maintain and nurture everyone's wholeness and happiness always, and not just during one designated month of the year.
Thank you to the people of African heritage who brought over so many delicious recipes to the West, and who continue to inspire with delicious flavors, compelling dishes, and nutrient-rich foods that keep our palettes happy and our bodies strong and thriving!