Nutrition Around the World – Part 6- The African Heritage Diet

Nutrition Around the World – Part 6

We are all taught from a very early age that different countries with diverse cultures exist around the world. Whether the country has only existed for a few decades or thousands of years, each one has differing views and traditions that they cherish in their own ways.

This implies that each culture views nutrition differently, which is reflected in their eating and drinking habits.

We are going to look at local eating habits from around the world, in the attempt to find a greater understanding of nutrition around the world.

The African Heritage Diet

We cap off this worldwide nutrition series from the cradle of civilization, Africa. Whether you are from the Southeastern parts of the United States, the Caribbean, or Brazil, the local diet all has its influences from the West African coast.

african diaspora

This widespread influence is due to the event that has been described by historians as the African diaspora. The term African diaspora has been used by historians to describe the trans-Atlantic slave trade during the 1500’s to the 1800’s. The African slaves brought parts of their culture, such as religious practices, language, and cooking styles. Today, African cooking has woven its way into many cultural cuisines.

The Four Regions of African Influence

 Grocery store in Africa


           The original African diet is plant based and is filled with leafy greens, local roots, tubers, spices, grains, and lean meats. The cooking styles vary at a slight depending on the local area. For instance, Central West Africa has a focus on vegetable soups and mashed grains/tubers, Eastern Africa has a focus on cabbage, kale, couscous, and sorghum; other parts of Africa focus on a diet that is specific to the Muslim religion. Any nutrition issues that come from the regions that practice the traditional diet does not come from the diet itself, but from outside factors such as food scarcity.


Afro-South America

Soups and stews are very popular in Brazil, as well as rice, beans, and tubers such as yucca and cassava. Popular vegetables and fruit in the area include, but are not limited to okra, peanuts, guava, and mangoes. Seafood like red snapper and spices like cilantro are also popular in the area and appear on many plates.



Caribbean Cuisine has a combination of African, Spanish and French culinary influences. Since the island is surrounded by water, seafood is the most common meat of the area. They rely on tropical fruits such as papaya, guava, and plantains, and they have quite a few dishes that feature rice, peas and whole wheat flour and curried vegetables.



Much like Afro Caribbean cuisine, African American cuisine has a combination of French, African, and Spanish cooking styles. Cabbage, okra, tomatoes, sweet potatoes, and a combination of greens such as turnip greens, dandelion, and mustard are what makes up most of ‘soul food’ dishes. Pickling is also a popular way to preserve food in the South with vegetables such as cucumbers, beets, radish, and carrots.


Plates of Expression

African Peanut Soup

Peanut soup is filling, colorful, and packed with the right combination of flavors. Sweet potatoes combined with the creaminess of coconut milk and a nutty base makes for a warm and tasty soup. Click on the photo below to get the recipe.

african peanut soup


Black Beans and Brown Rice

This dish is quick, simple, and filled with the right amount of spice. If you want a vegetarian dish that is filling, and savory, try this African staple. Click on the photo below the text if you want to try to make this dish yourself.

 black beans with brown rice


Light Seafood Gumbo Recipe

If you want a hearty soup with the taste of the South, then look no further than Louisiana Seafood Gumbo. The combination of vegetables, peppers, spices, and shrimp make a healthy and flavorful meal that will bring a smile to anyone’s face. If you’d like to try the recipe yourself, click on the gumbo below.

seafood gumbo




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