Is Soul Food Putting the “Die” in Diet?

In the South, back in your grandmother’s day, a good home-cooked meal included chicken-fried crisp in lard, candied yams, macaroni and cheese, greens seasoned with ham hocks, good old fashion cornbread, all topped off by three types of cake and sweet potato pie. And no one thought a thing about eating it, except how good it tastes, and how good it made you feel.

That was indeed food for the soul, steeped in flavor, and family traditions. But a new study in the Journal of the American Medical Association suggests that although soul food is good to you, it might not be good for you.

It is well known that high blood pressure is widespread among black adults in the United States – as much as 50 percent higher than whites and Hispanics. High blood pressure is a major risk factor for heart attack, stroke, and kidney disease and contributes to differences in life expectancy in black Americans. In fact, the life expectancy for blacks is four years shorter than that of whites. However, what is unknown, is why blacks are at increased risk for hypertension.

To answer that question, researchers from the University of Alabama at Birmingham, examined 12 factors and their association with the development of hypertension among 6,900 black and white adults who didn’t have hypertension when they entered the study in 2003-2007 and who were followed-up nine years later.

The most significant factor associated with increased risk of hypertension among black adults was