HBCU Writers's Project
For Immediate Release
January 04, 2012
Contact Information

Shanley McCray
Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University


(BLACK PR WIRE/FAMU-TALLAHASSEE) "" It's all too often that we hear of the same diseases killing African-Americans. The most popular of them all are heart disease, cancer, stroke and HIV/AIDS, according to the Centers for Disease Control. These are all diseases that can affect anyone of any ethnic makeup group, but what is it about African-Americans that keep these illnesses ubiquitous?

An overlooked contributing factor is one's diet. This may not seem like it's related to a disease, but it can make or break your condition. The food that enters the body is absorbed for its nutritional value. But if there aren't many nutrients for the body to maintain its immune system, then it can't do its job well.

The immune system is designed to defend against bacteria, viruses and toxins that may attempt to raid the body. It's vital to keep the body strong and healthy so illness can be prevented and/or keep current conditions from worsening.

Often times, soul food is prepared unhealthily. An over consumption of fried, sweet and greasy foods can result in a deficiency of vitamins. Although some soul foods are vegetables, they are often cooked in manners that destroy the vitamins and nutrients.

Eating these foods can cause weight gain along with many other health risks. African-Americans have more of an acceptance of many body sizes, which may lead to more obesity and health-related issues. The higher your body mass index, the higher your risk for chronic diseases.

There are ways the diet can be improved and still have its cultural background and great taste. One way is to steam vegetables with broth instead of boiling them with meat. This way the vegetables are cooked with a meat flavor, and are more likely to preserve some of the original nutrients.

Another way is to grill or bake meat rather than frying it. Although this doesn't taste the same, it is a healthier alternative to the artery-clogging process. Also, choosing a leaner cut of meat could help.

Finally is the dessert improvement. Sugar is a substance that can be abused very easily. But it is the worst thing many people can have in their diet. According to healingdaily.com, "One of sugar's major drawbacks is that it raises the insulin level, which inhibits the release of growth hormones, which in turn depresses the immune system."

One other healthy option is to use natural sweeteners such as Blackstrap molasses, evaporated cane juice and maple syrup. So you can still enjoy that sweet potato pie, but this time without the worries of shutting down your immune system.