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Medical News & Perspectives
November 27, 2019

Heritage Diets and Culturally Appropriate Dietary Advice May Help Combat Chronic Diseases

JAMA. 2019;322(23):2271-2273. doi:10.1001/jama.2019.18431

Teaching a nutrition class based on the culinary traditions of the African Diaspora appealed to Deitra Dennis, RN, because it reminded her of a West African proverb. She explained that the proverb promotes the idea “of going back and taking from the past or history and bringing it forward to help others progress.”

Dennis, a nurse for 26 years and licensed lifestyle health coach, is an ambassador and instructor for the Oldways African Heritage Diet. She teaches a 6-week cooking and nutrition course that draws on an African Heritage food pyramid emphasizing a plant-based diet with fruits, vegetables, tubers, grains, beans, nuts, and healthy oils. The course includes a diverse array of African, African American, Caribbean, and South American recipes and teaches participants about traditional spices, ingredients, and cooking techniques. Participants are often concerned that eating healthy means giving up familiar foods and family recipes, Dennis said. But she shows them healthy ways to tweak favorite recipes.

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