February is Black History Month, and here at Oldways we celebrate the month the way we celebrate most things: With a focus on food. It is the perfect time to discover why its savory ﬂavors and naturally healthy features make African heritage cuisine the next big food trend.
To commemorate Black History Month, Oldways is challenging everyone to enjoy at least one dish, at home or at a local restaurant, that is inspired by the cuisines of African American ancestors and Oldways’ African Heritage Diet Pyramid. There are numerous ways to get involved, such as:
- Attending a regional A Taste of African Heritage (ATOAH) cooking class series, which addresses increased rates of heart disease, diabetes, and obesity in African American populations and is having a significant health impact in communities around the country: 62% of students have lost weight, 30% have reduced blood pressure, and 53% have lost inches from their waist. Boston, Houston, Dallas, and Philadelphia are just a few of the cities hosting classes in February—our directory has a full list, and this video provides a wonderful overview.
- Venturing out to a new restaurant serving healthy, traditional food; from Ethiopian to Ghanaian, Jamaican to Cuban, and even Southern style. Our up-to-date Dine-Around-Town guide lists African heritage restaurants across the country.
- Preparing meals at home, whether it’s trying a brand new recipe or using simple food swaps to incorporate the flavors and benefits of traditional ingredients.
- Teaching others about the health and nutrition of the African heritage diet. Anyone can sign up to teach an ATOAH class, and health professionals can earn 2 hours of CPE credits by taking Oldways’ African Heritage & Health Course.
AFRICAN HERITAGE DIET
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.
AFRICAN HERITAGE DIET PYRAMID
The ancestors of African Americans brought many wonderful food traditions to parts of the Caribbean, South America, and the southern states of the U.S. Maybe these were your great, great, great grandparents. Over the generations, many of these food traditions have been lost, with the inﬂuences of modern American eating habits. And our health has suﬀered because of this loss.
As the African Heritage Diet Pyramid illustrates, this diet is based on whole, fresh plant foods like colorful fruits and vegetables, especially leafy greens; tubers like yams and sweet potatoes; beans of all kinds; nuts and peanuts; rice, ﬂatbreads and other grain foods, especially whole grains; healthy oils; homemade sauces and marinades of herbs and spices; ﬁsh, eggs, poultry and yogurt. It’s naturally low in processed sugar, unhealthy types of fats, and sodium, and includes only small amounts of meats and sweets.
Whether we look to Virginia or Jamaica, Nigeria or Brazil, we ﬁnd this overall healthy eating pattern shared by all of their culinary histories, with distinct foods featured by each region. It is this “big picture” framework of the African Heritage Diet Pyramid that all people can use to claim their best health. We invite you to take a new look at your heritage and your health, and to enjoy the foods, and the ways of cooking and eating, that are a part of your healthy heritage.