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Why are traditional Africans so Healthy? 8 Steps to Unlocking the African Heritage Diet.

The world is beginning to take notice of the benefits of the African traditional diet. Many studies and books have critically examined what is now commonly known as the ‘African Heritage Diet’, which is a way of eating based on the healthy food traditions of people with African roots. This healthy way of eating is powerfully nutritious and delicious, and naturally meets the guidelines experts recommend for supporting good health.

Researchers have discovered an overall healthy eating pattern shared the culinary histories of Africans and people of African descent all over the world from Brazil, the Caribbean to Jamaica, with distinct foods featured by each region. The “big picture” framework of the African Heritage Diet Pyramid is considered to be highly beneficial to all people in order to attain their best health. Starting at the base of the pyramid, you’ll find:

  • Foods to enjoy every day: colorful fruits and vegetables, especially leafy greens; tubers like yams and sweet potatoes; beans of all kinds; nuts and peanuts; rice, flatbreads and other grain foods, especially whole grains.
  • Foods to eat a few times each week, or in moderation: healthy oils; homemade sauces and marinades of herbs and spices; fish, eggs, poultry and yogurt.
  • Foods to save for special occasions: meats and sweets.

Here are 8 easy and affordable steps to help you unlock the powerful benefits of The African Heritage Diet:

  1. Spice it Up.Curries, peppers, coconut, fresh herbs, garlic, onions, fresh lemon, and all spices are low-sodium ways to add incredible flavors to grains, beans, vegetables, and seafood. Try a different herb every week for a touch of African heritage.
  2. Make Vegetables the Star of Your Meals.Steamed, sautéed, roasted, grilled or raw, enjoy veggies like okra, cabbage, green beans, or eggplant in larger portions than the other parts of your meal. If you’re grabbing seconds, go for the veggies!
  3. Adjust your Approach to Meat.Use lean, healthy meats in smaller amounts for flavor. Replace ham-hocks and bacon with smoked turkey or fish, or pile on the herbs and spices instead!
  4. Make Rice & Beans Your New Staple.Fiber-filled Rice-and-Beans is a favorite meal all over the world. Add African heritage whole grains like millet, sorghum, and corn to your soups, or partner them with steamed vegetables.
  5. Enjoy Mashes & Medleys.Bake or boil sweet potatoes, yams and potatoes or mash them with eggplants, beans, grains, onions, and seasonings. One-Pot Cooking lets flavors blend together in perfect harmony! Use okra, corn, and tomatoes together or add extra color and flavor to your greens with purple cabbage and leeks.
  6. Choose’ Real’ Foods.At a store, buy peanuts or fruit; at a lunch buffet, load up your plate with salad, veggies, fruit, and beans. Look to African heritage whole foods, in their natural state, to crowd out processed and packaged “convenience foods.”
  7. Fruits and Nuts for Dessert.Fresh or frozen fruits like melons, peaches, berries, and mangos—plain or sprinkled with chopped nuts or coconut—add a sweet taste of satisfaction at the end of a meal.
  8. Explore Healthier Drinks.A splash of flavor can make water your go-to drink. Add crushed fruits or small amounts of 100% fruit juice to water or sparkling water to make refreshing drinks. Infuse a blend of Hibiscus Leaves (Zobo), Cloves, Pineapple peel and Ginger to make a tasty and refreshing health tonic and immune booster. Consider lemonade or honey flavored tea as a refreshing alternative to soda and other highly sugared drinks.

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