February is Heart Month, a time to focus on cardiovascular health. Heart disease is the number one killer in women, causing 1 in 3 deaths each year. It disproportionately affects people of color however, the prevalence is highest in African American women. Luckily, heart disease can be prevented and managed with nutrition and lifestyle changes. A few ways you can get started to a healthier heart are by knowing your family history, managing stress, being health conscious, and staying active.
A heart-healthy eating pattern is one that emphasizes fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, fish, poultry, vegetable oils. It can also include, in moderation, red meats, processed meats, refined carbohydrates, and foods and drinks with added sugar, sodium, and fat. The Mediterranean diet pattern is often promoted as the best for health, especially heart health. However, the dietary patterns of African Americans and the African diaspora can be just as beneficial to heart health. The key is to have a balanced plate with variety.
Celebrate Black history month with these six cookbooks by African-American authors that promote health and incorporate the cultural foods you love!
- Zoe’s Ghana Kitchen by Zoe Adjonyo – These fabulous Ghanaian dishes are homemade favorites, focusing on traditional flavors with Zoe’s twist. Simple to cook and very flexible – you can take the basic principles and adapt them easily to what you have available in your cupboard or fridge – you can prepare your own wonderful vibrant Ghanaian dishes.
- Black Girl Baking by Jerelle Guy – Jerrelle leads you on a sensual baking journey using the five senses, retelling and reinventing food memories while using ingredients that make her feel more in control and more connected to the world and the person she has become. Whole flours, less refined sugar, and vegan alternatives make it easier to celebrate those sweet moments that made her who she is today.
- The Southern Comfort Food Diabetes Cookbook by Maya Feller, MS, RD, CDN – With this diabetic cookbook, you’ll prepare hearty, comforting meals that balance the trademark bright acidity and satisfying heat of Southern cooking while adhering to the diabetes nutrition guidelines.
- Jubilee: Recipes from Two Centuries of African American Cooking by Toni Tipton-Martin – This cookbook presents techniques, ingredients, and dishes that show the roots of African American cooking—deeply beautiful, culturally diverse, fit for a celebration.
- Great Food, All Day Long: Cook Splendidly, Eat Smart: A Cookbook by Maya Angelou – An essential reference for everyone who wants to eat better and smarter—and a delightful peek into the kitchen and the heart of a remarkable woman.
- Soul Food Love by Alice Randall and Caroline Randall Williams – A mother-daughter duo reclaims and redefines soul food by mining the traditions of four generations of black women and creating 80 healthy recipes to help everyone live longer and stronger.
Written by FH Contributor and HAES Advocate, Lauryn Woodruff