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By 1996, 28 percent of this population was reported to have a poor-quality diet, compared to 16 percent of whites.

A poor quality diet often can be attributed to greater access to packaged, processed, and fast foods; the common practice of using fats in cooking; and the high cost of fresh produce and lean meat.

According to the University of California School of Nursing, in Culture and Clinical Care, many aspects of African American culture today reflect the culture of the general US population.

The structure in African American families is often nuclear and extended with non-related “family” members.

And fast foot companies have specifically targeted African American communities as a growing market for their products.

Although many African Americans eat foods such as greens, beans, and rice, which are rich in nutrients, economic issues and deep-rooted dietary habits create challenges for changing behaviors and lowering disease risk in this population.

Soul food may refer to meals made with fried chicken, pork chops, chitterlings, grits, cornbread, macaroni and cheese, and hushpuppies.

Many African Americans like hearty meals that may include meat, fish, greens, rice, grits, white and sweet potatoes, corn, turnips, eggplant, peanuts, and homemade desserts.

However, through health education and increased awareness of healthy eating practices, African Americans are replacing traditional pork products with turkey, fried foods with baked foods, and starchy vegetables with tomatoes and green vegetables.

National programs to improve diet quality and the overall health of African Americans and other minority groups have been initiated.

Traditional African-American food—sometimes referred to as “soul food”—is diverse and flavorful with origins in Africa, the West Indies, and American southern states.

The idea of what soul food is differs greatly among African Americans.

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