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Nutrition for the Soul: Mindful Eating for a Healthier You

Updated: Aug 28, 2023

The deep roots of African American culinary traditions offer us a diverse palette of nutrient-rich foods that can nourish both our bodies and our souls. When prepared with mindful intent, these foods not only provide sustenance but also serve as a vibrant reminder of our rich cultural heritage. Let's explore five cornerstone foods within the African-American community, their historical significance, and their impressive nutritional profiles.


Collard Greens


A traditional staple, collard greens were introduced to America by African slaves. When prepared with smoked turkey instead of the typical ham hocks, a one-cup serving of these leafy greens contains about 63 calories, offers 5 grams of fiber, 4 grams of protein, and an impressive supply of Vitamin A and C— well over your daily requirement.


Sweet Potatoes


Historically part of the African American diet since the days of slavery, sweet potatoes provide a host of nutritional benefits. A medium-baked sweet potato (about 1 cup) comes in at around 100 calories and provides roughly 4 grams of fiber, a whopping 400% of your daily requirement for Vitamin A, and 37% for Vitamin C.

Salmon


Although not historically part of the African American diet, salmon is a newer addition that's become increasingly popular due to its health benefits. A standard serving of 3.5 ounces of wild salmon has approximately 206 calories and offers 20 grams of high-quality protein and plenty of heart-healthy Omega-3 fatty acids.


Black-Eyed Peas


Originating in West Africa, black-eyed peas were brought to America through the transatlantic slave trade. One cooked cup (about 200 calories) of these symbolic peas provides 13 grams of both fiber and protein and is also rich in iron, making it a nutritious addition to any meal.


Okra


This versatile vegetable, introduced to America during the transatlantic slave trade, has remained a staple in African American cuisine. One cup of raw okra contains just 33 calories, yet provides about 3.2 grams of fiber, an abundance of Vitamin C and K, and is great for digestive health. Mindful eating invites us to appreciate our food in a deeper sense, recognizing its roots, its cultural significance, and the nutrients it offers us. As we pay homage to our history and cultural traditions through our dietary choices, we're setting the stage for a healthier future.


Dr. Rovenia Brock, a renowned nutritionist, perfectly captures the essence of this journey in her quote: "Soul food is just what the name implies. It is soulfully cooked food...good for your ever-loving soul...the shur-'nuf kinda down-home cookin' that been the staple of the African American diet for centuries".




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