Southern food

Soul food or Southern food is the ethnic cuisine of the African-Americans. It has their traditional food dishes. Is it healthy? What are the tips to boost the nutritive value of this food?

Soul food or Southern food

The soul food is the traditional cuisine that belongs to the Africans who were residing in Southern United States.

It spread to the whole of the USA from there during the Great Migration movement of the Africans who left the South during the early to mid-20th century.

Hence, it is also called the Southern food. The foods are the foods that the white owners of the Southern plantations gave their Black slaves.

But these foods had a strong African influence on them. The term soul food started in the mid-1960s. The term came up since soul was often applied to African-American culture.

Southern food
Soul food (Source: Taste of home)

The soul food has simple meals for the family consisting of rice and beans, fried chicken, collard greens and ham hocks.

It also implies tables spread with items such as candied yams, smothered pork chops, gumbo, black-eyed peas, macaroni with cheese, cornbread, sweet potato pie, and also peach cobbler.

The latter is a baked dessert. This food evokes a strong feeling of family, home, and togetherness amongst the Africans.

Is soul food healthy?

Soul food also has organ meat, processed meats, eggs, fatty and fried foods, and sweetened beverages and desserts. Therefore, they are rich in fats and calories.

Sugars are also more in these foods along with salt. Hence, the eating is not healthy. It increases risk of heart and blood vessel diseases. Diabetes risk is also more with it.

Additionally, it can enhance the chances of cancers and kidney diseases. Stroke risk is heightened. The food is not healthy for the brain.

Southern food
Soul food (Source: Reddit)

CDC reveals that in the age group of 18 to 49 years, African-Americans have twice the risk of death as the White Americans.

And in the age group of 35 to 54 years, the colored race of the USA have 50% more risk of high blood pressure compared to their white counterparts.

Diet has a crucial role in this increased risk along with genes and social disparities. There are only a few dishes in soul food that are healthy. These include the green leaves and peas and legumes.

Other negative aspects of this food lies in the way the food is cooked at high temperatures. Some are slow cooked. Both methods destroy the essential vitamins in the food.

Additionally, low quality foods such as cornmeal and pork are part of the soul food. The cooking medium used is lard which is not healthy, Often this is reused multiple times before it is thrown away.

Tips to boost the health aspect of soul food

Soul food is part of legacy. Preservation of it is vital. But it can be modified to make it healthier. One can increase the quantity of plant based foods in soul food.

Okra, whole grains, watermelon, can be added for more health benefits. Meat can be decreased, One can replace pork with turkey. In place of meat, increase the portion of legumes and add nuts and seeds.

Southern food
Soul food (Source: Love food)

Roots and tuber varieties can be increased by addition of taro, pumpkin, and plantain. Use brown rice. Change the cooking medium to a healthier one such as vegetable oils.

Use whole grain flour and eliminate use of refined flour in the recipes. Add more herbs and spices as seasonings. Lessen the amount of fried food items in the plate.

Also, read Healthy food item, vegetables: how to reap all its benefits to the maximum?

Use the water in which vegetables and greens are cooked (pot liquor) in other dishes. These have the vitamins and minerals in them and can make the other dishes healthy.

Marinate the meat in citrus juice with vinegar and herbs and spices. Stir-fry or steam the vegetables and greens rather than frying them.