Soul food health trends

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Main article: Soul food
Further information: Healthy diet

  • Cookbook: Tools for Healthy Living/Healthy Diet
  •   Media: Soul Food at Powell’s Place

Soul food is a kind of African American cuisine that emphasizes fired, roasted, and boiled food dishes using primarily chicken, pork fat, organ meats, sweet potatoes, corn, and green leafy vegetables.[1] Since it has embed in African American’s culture for long time with its negative effects on people’s health, and given the healthy trends in modern times, both physically and mentally, it is necessary to maintain body physically and mentally fit. Heathy diet also give necessary suppliments to our body. modify traditional soul food within the healthy trends and advocate it. This article will describe modifying soul food in five aspects, including soul food with low carb, soul food with low sugar, soul food with low fat, soul food for vegan and soul food in gluten-free. Lastly, it will give high-profile advocates to promote soul food within health trends.


  • 1 The culture and history of soul food
  • 2 Functions of soul food
  • 3 Factors affecting healthier food choices
  • 4 Modifying soul food to fit within health trends
    • 4.1 Soul food with low sugar
    • 4.2 Soul food with low fat
    • 4.3 Soul food for vegan
    • 4.4 Soul food in gluten-free
  • 5 High profile advocates: promotes
  • 6 References

The culture and history of soul food[edit]

Being one kind of traditional cuisine of American American in the southern U.S, soul food is also described as “seductive, satisfying, filling, spicy, high-fat, spiritual, traditional cuisine of Black Americans, especially southern Blacks” by African American women.[2] It evolves a long history of slavery, persecution and segregation. To produce a distinctive African American cuisine, slaves that were brought to the USA combined their West African cooking methods with British, Spanish and native American (American Indian) techniques and with whatever foods that were accessible to them.[1]

Functions of soul food[edit]

Troisi and Wrigh (2017)[3] claimed that food consumption of food is not only out of hunger, but also for its emotional, cultural and symbolic meanings. To prove that idea, an empirical research was done to analyse how food works in both physical and mental aspects. After the research, they concluded that people’s thought, desire and evolution for particular food depend on their mental association and social psychological processes. On other word, both biological and psychological needs affect food choice, implying that comfort food can be applied in psychology.[3]

Factors affecting healthier food choices[edit]

There are beliefs, barriers and self-efficiency issues that affect food consumption and food choice. Most commonly, people suffer from time scarcity because of planning, shopping, preparation, cooking, eating and cleaning involved. A survey was conducted between 57 Africa Americas to assess their those aspects that relate to healthy eating. It is found that although people have awareness and knowledge about healthy eating, the survey showed that there are barriers that restrict people’s healthy eating, with price of heathy food as main barriers in food choice[4]. Another research also showed that barriers of heathy eating comes from not only the price, flavour, accessibility and absence of social report, but also changes in total energy, fat intake and weigh.[5]

More broadly, a project conducted showed that factors that influence diet and life styles come from individual, social, cultural and community aspects.[1] The research showed that high-fat traditional food preferences, kmmonon frying and addition of salted meats to vegetables are based on ethnic differences in dietary intake and culture traditions.[6]

As a result, with those barriers prevent people from healthy eating, the increasing consumption relates to the demand of unhealthy soul food leads to health disparities, such as obesity, diabetes or hypertension. This is especially common among African American, which is one of the largest ethnic minority groups in United States.[4]

Traditional Soul Food

Modifying soul food to fit within health trends[edit]

With the improvement of economical status, people who suffer from the hunger dramatically decreases, especially in developed countries. However, more and more people are experiencing stress, over consumption of fast food and sweets, staying up later, etc., which make them suffer from depression, anxiety, obesity, diabetes, hypertension, cancers and so on, especially among those African Americans. As a result, more and more people claim that we should focus on the quality of food rather than the quantity of it.

Although soul food comprises various healthy food such as collards, okra, rice, legumes and sweet potato, it also comprises high intake of fat from various meant, especially pork, seasoned with lard or other animal fats. [4] Along with barriers that prevent Africa America from choosing healthy food, they suffer from chronic diseases such as heart disease, cancer and diabetes. Diet as one of the important lifestyle factors, is important in preventing health conditions, thus recipes of soul food should be modified to be healthy, accessible and affordable, especially in aspects of alternative ingredients and cooking methods.

Dietary Approach to Stop Hypertension to produce healthy soul food is one example of diet plan, to reduce risks of diseases that caused by unhealthy diet. It maintains flavour and acceptability of traditional soul foods and meet people’s nutrient requirement at the same time.[2] Moreover, Food of Health and Soul is another local faith community that “support families’ interest in retaining their cultural foods while reducing dietary fat, sodium, and sugar and increasing fiber”.[7]
Soul food with low carb

Low carb is also known as low carbohydrate, high fat. Diabetes Research and clinical Practice found that low carb positively affects glucose control in patients with type 2 diabetes, triglycerides and HDL (high density lipoprotein).[8] It is suggested that ideal diet requires less than 130 g of carbohydrate a day and claims to be promoted as a permanent lifestyle choice through books and websites. For example, people are suggested to eat green vegetables, meat, fish, eggs, and just as well as whole fat dairy and olive oil.[8]

Soul food with low sugar[edit]

Desserts with high sugar are commonly consumed for hedonistic rewards, especially among women.[9] However, high sugar intake tends to increase risk of obesity, type 2 diabetes, hypertension, cardio-metabolic diseases and compromised oral health.[10] Instead, research showed that honey is beneficial to health with its “gastroprotective, hepatoprotective, reproductive, hypoglycemic, antioxidant, antihypertensive, antibacterial, anti-fungal and anti-inflammatory.[11] Under that circumstance, honey can be replaced to add sweet flavor, such as dressing on smoothies, spreading on bread, etc.

Soul food with low fat[edit]

Although low-fat and nonfat contain more amount of sugars than regular products, called fat-sugar seasaw, the UK government announced guidelines that encourage people to consume low-fat products for the aim of reducing cholesterol and saturated fat in the diet.[12]

When preparing recipes, spices and herbs can be used to replace sodium and fat for flavour enhancers.[7] Soups are one of good examples with low fat but satisfying. Firstly, they are quick and easy to prepare. Some of them are only need to be boiled with water and simple spices, such as pumpkin soup, tomato and egg soup, etc. They have significantly less calories and also convenient and cost-effective. Secondly, since soups can be cooked with various vegetables or meat, such as pork ribs and carrot soup, chicken soup with spinach, etc. that provide different kinds of nutritions that people need.[13]

More over, seen as a comfort food in history, soups help lessen cold symptoms and warm the soul, especially in Winter. As Elizabeth Arndt said, soup increase the feeling of fullness while reduce the total calorie intake. Besides, soups with chowders and stews effectively help meet the recorded daily needs for fiber, protein, vitamins and minerals, thus leave positive effects on people’s health and wellbeing.[13]

Soul food for vegan[edit]

Vegan can help reduce animal abuse and reduce environmental impact of diet. Most importantly, they are healthy. According to several studies documenting the nutritional and health status of vegans, a vegan diet brings health benefits in various aspects.[10] Firstly, given that a BMI of 22.5 to 25 to be ideal, research showed that vegans were found to have body mass index (BMI) on average. Secondly, vegans tends to have lower cholesterol, blood pressure and reduced risk of cardiovascular disease and diabetes. Thirdly, the risk of certain cancer including colon, stomach, female and prostate cancers may be lowered by vegan and vegetarian diets.[10]

Besides there are meant and dairy substitutes that vegan can choose from, such as fiber. There are various kinds of fruit and vegetables. They not only help add flavor, fiber and texture, but are also healthy. Sweet potato, as an easy ingredient available in puree, juice, dried flake and flour, are ranked as the number one in nutrition for vegetables by the Centre for Science in the Public Interest.[13] Although vegetables have seasonal variation in colour, nutrients, price and available, using vegetable concentrates and extracts is an effective solution in coping with the consistency, thus boosting specific flavour profile, especially in soups.

Soul food in gluten-free[edit]

Study showed that gluten-containing food have risks of causing celiac diseases and gluten-induced disorder for those who are in genetically susceptible individuals and there are also people that are wheat allergy. Under that circumstance, Lu, Zhang, Luoto and  Ren [14] suggested more choices and variation in the diet, especially for breakfast. In addition, peas with 85% protein have a rich amino acid profile that will be ideal for people with celiac disease, gluten intolerance and other food allergy.[13] Besides, some grains including brown rice, sorghum, amaranth, quinoa, millet and wild rice are also gluten-free in nature.[13]

However, the research showed that the subjective difficulty in following a gluten-free diet (GFD) comes from main reasons of age, education level, advice on starting a GFD, duration before discovering a gluten intolerance, food choices and ways of GFD management. Accordingly, education about celiac disease and gluten-induced disorder can be conducted among healthcare practitioners to increase their awareness, as well as early diagnosis and intervention of gluten-induced disorders. [14]

High profile advocates: promotes[edit]

People are increasingly paying attention to healthy lifestyle. Although soul food are fast and easy to consume in the fast-paced life, where people suffer from healthy issues, modifying soul food within healthy trends become necessary. To better promote soul food within healthy trends, there are three ways for advocating.

  • healthy soul food can be used to satisfy both biological and psychological needs. [3]
  • Secondly, since women mainly prepare food in the family and make effects on later generation, the nutrition programs can mainly target women, as well as people in different socioeconomic groups. [1]
  • Thirdly, culture can be embedded into diet and healthy eating can be advocated in community level. Under that circumstance, It will be familiar and relevant to African American, helping reach them and change their food choice and intake. [4]
  • Moreover, the program can embrace culture facility and relevance and consider environmental influences.[1] Food For Health and Soul  is an successful example of culturally appropriate approach that effectively reaches African American and promotes their healthy food intake.[7]
  • Since chronic diseases commonly happen on people all around the world, modifying soul food within healthy trends should be promoted not only among African Americas, but also people all over the world. Healthy eating along with regular physical activities, as two main lifestyle factors, can work together in promote health and wellbeing.


  • ^ a b c d e James, Delores (1 July 2010). “Factors influencing food choices, dietary intake, and nutrition-related attitudes among African Americans: Application of a culturally sensitive model”. Ethnicity & Health. 9 (4): 349–367. doi:10.1080/1355785042000285375. ISSN 1355-7858. PMID cite.citation{font-style:inherit}.mw-parser-output .citation q{quotes:”””””””‘””‘”}.mw-parser-output .id-lock-free a,.mw-parser-output .citation .cs1-lock-free a{background:url(“//”)no-repeat;background-position:right .1em center}.mw-parser-output .id-lock-limited a,.mw-parser-output .id-lock-registration a,.mw-parser-output .citation .cs1-lock-limited a,.mw-parser-output .citation .cs1-lock-registration a{background:url(“//”)no-repeat;background-position:right .1em center}.mw-parser-output .id-lock-subscription a,.mw-parser-output .citation .cs1-lock-subscription a{background:url(“//”)no-repeat;background-position:right .1em center}.mw-parser-output .cs1-subscription,.mw-parser-output .cs1-registration{color:#555}.mw-parser-output .cs1-subscription span,.mw-parser-output .cs1-registration span{border-bottom:1px dotted;cursor:help}.mw-parser-output .cs1-ws-icon a{background:url(“//”)no-repeat;background-position:right .1em center}.mw-parser-output code.cs1-code{color:inherit;background:inherit;border:inherit;padding:inherit}.mw-parser-output .cs1-hidden-error{display:none;font-size:100%}.mw-parser-output .cs1-visible-error{font-size:100%}.mw-parser-output .cs1-maint{display:none;color:#33aa33;margin-left:0.3em}.mw-parser-output .cs1-subscription,.mw-parser-output .cs1-registration,.mw-parser-output .cs1-format{font-size:95%}.mw-parser-output .cs1-kern-left,.mw-parser-output .cs1-kern-wl-left{padding-left:0.2em}.mw-parser-output .cs1-kern-right,.mw-parser-output .cs1-kern-wl-right{padding-right:0.2em}
  • ^ a b Rankins, J., Wortham, J., & Brown, L. L. (2007). Modifying Soul Food for the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension Diet(dash) Plan: Implications for Metabolic Syndrome(dash of Soul). Ethnicity & disease, 17(3), 7-12
  • ^ a b c Troisi, Jordan D.; Wright, Julian W. C. (2016-11-16). “Comfort Food”. Teaching of Psychology. 44 (1): 78–84. doi:10.1177/0098628316679972. ISSN 0098-6283.
  • ^ a b c d Pawlak, Roman; Colby, Sarah (2009). “Benefits, barriers, self-efficacy and knowledge regarding healthy foods; perception of African Americans living in eastern North Carolina”. Nutrition Research and Practice. 3 (1): 56–63. doi:10.4162/nrp.2009.3.1.56. ISSN 1976-1457. PMC 2788162. PMID 20016703.
  • ^ Wang, J., Ye, L., Zheng, Y., & Burke, L. (2015). Impact of Perceived Barriers to Healthy Eating on Diet and Weight in a 24-Month Behavioral Weight Loss Trial. Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior, 47(5), 432–436.e1.
  • ^ Bovell-Benjamin, A., Dawkin, N., Pace, R., & Shikany, J. (2009). Use of focus groups to understand African-Americans’ dietary practices: Implications for modifying a food frequency questionnaire. Preventive Medicine, 48(6), 549–554.
  • ^ a b c Woodson, J., Braxton-Calhoun, M., & Benedict, J. (2005). Food for Health and Soul: A Curriculum Designed to Facilitate Healthful Recipe Modifications to Family Favorites. Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior, 37(6), 323–324.
  • ^ a b Feinmann, J. (2018). Low calorie and low carb diets for weight loss in primary care. BMJ, 360, .
  • ^ Churruca, K., Ussher, J., & Perz, J. (2017). Just Desserts? Exploring Constructions of Food in Women’s Experiences of Bulimia. Qualitative Health Research, 27(10), 1491–1506.
  • ^ a b c Radnitz, C., Beezhold, B., & Dimatteo, J. (2015). Investigation of lifestyle choices of individuals following a vegan diet for health and ethical reasons. Appetite, 90, 31–36.
  • ^ Kadirvelu, A., & Gurtu, S. (2013). Potential benefits of honey in type 2 diabetes mellitus: A review. International Journal of Collaborative Research on Internal Medicine & Public Health, 5(4), 199–216. Retrieved from
  • ^ Booth, P., Edmonds, C., & Slivova, J. (2018). The effects of attitudes, knowledge and beliefs about healthy eating on sugar and low-fat product intake. Appetite, 130.
  • ^ a b c d e Mannie, E. (2010). Soup for the soul: soups are a traditional comfort food, tied to health and wellness. With ingredients such as starches, proteins, vegetables, grains and cheese, content varies widely. Health claims and gluten-free options remain popular.(ingredient challenges). Prepared Foods, 179(1).
  • ^ a b Lu, Z., Zhang, H., Luoto, S., & Ren, X. (2018). Gluten-free living in China: The characteristics, food choices and difficulties in following a gluten-free diet – An online survey. Appetite, 127, 242–248.
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