How Soul Food Stymies African-Americans’ Low-Salt Efforts

This week, Dr. Khaalisha Ajala of ABC News’ Medical Unit shared her report on African Americans’ high sodium diets. Read the story below:

“I can’t eat food that has no taste!” exclaims one too many of my patients with high blood pressure in my weekly clinic.

As an internal medicine resident at a large hospital in Atlanta, Ga., my patients love that what they eat is filled with a cultural tradition that reminds them of their moms. And as an African-American who is familiar with the foods of the South, I can understand the draw.

Mouth watering Southern fried chicken, mac ‘n’ cheese and collard greens are some of the dishes that make up the genre of food that spells Americana for so many — it’s Soul Food. Its history is deeply rooted in the African-American community, handed down from generation to generation with oral histories and maybe even a funny family story that accompanies each recipe.

But these recipes often come steeped in much more than tradition.

More often than not, they are filled with unhealthy oil, fat, salt and other ingredients that increase the risk of high blood pressure, stroke, heart attacks and diabetes.