History + Health Benefits/Risks of Soul Food

Graphic courtesy of Asiah Fulmore.Graphic courtesy of Asiah Fulmore.

At cookouts, family gatherings and reunions, soul food is one of the most fascinating, as well as delicious things people look forward to.

Soul food is known as traditional southern African-American food. Most mothers, grandmothers and great grandmothers cook soul food on special occasions like Christmas or Thanksgiving. Many people often have different definitions of what soul food is. Even though many people say that soul food is tasty and has some health benefits, it also tends to have some health risks.

When people think of soul food, food in a nutritional sense comes to mind.

“To me soul food is home cooked meals, sunday dinners and southern food all mixed together,” sophomore psychology major, Ramonica Berry, said. Not only does food come to mind, but also culture for some people. “Soul food is something that is made from the heart. It is an important aspect to black culture and southern culture in general,” Kennedi Harris, sophomore mass communication major, said.

There are a lot of people in the world who can rant about how good certain food is and how to make it because they are really passionate about it. Soul food is so special to people that if you were to ask them what their favorite meal is, they would be unable to answer.

“My ideal plate would have to be fried chicken, mac and cheese, green beans, sweet potatoes and a nice cold glass of sweet tea,” Harris said.

People often say they eat soul food or southern food because of the taste, the culture and who cooks the food. But the taste and the way it is cooked can lead to health risks.

“High blood pressure can be formed quickly by the high sodium in the food; also, if there is a lot of fried food, it increases the risk of diabetes and heart disease because of the high calories,” human nutrition professor Elizabeth Weikle said.

Though people may love the taste of soul food, there are many risks involved with eating it. Getting information about alternative ways to cook these types of food could decrease the risk of health problems.

“Instead of unhealthy ingredients people use to cook their food, they can use canola oil or olive oil inplace of shortening or lard. They can also bake their chicken in the oven with buttermilk,” Professor Weikle said.

Graphic courtesy of Asiah Fulmore.

Graphic courtesy of Asiah Fulmore.

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