Over 40 percent of black women suffer with hypertension. This disease is especially taxing on the body, and it causes the heart to work harder. Hypertension also increases your chances of developing kidney disease, heart failure, stroke, and an early death. Women of color also have greater percentages of obesity than other ethnic groups, and this also increases their chances of developing hypertension.
Some researchers have also concluded that there may be a genetic issue that makes women of color more sensitive to salt than their white counterparts. If this theory is true, it would not take an enormous amount of salt in the diet to elevate the blood pressure. A half of a teaspoon would be all that a woman would have to consume to raise blood pressure levels as high as four or five mm Hg, or millimeters of mercury.
The History of the African-American Diet
Hypertension was nonexistent in people of color. When slaves were brought over to the new land, they were given a simple diet of meat, vegetables, bread, molasses, and water. Because the meals were so bland, they began to consume a lot of sugar and salt with their meals. The slaves endured long hours of physical labor in the grueling sun, and they were not plagued with issues like obesity, diabetes, and hypertension. This is likely attributed to the fact that they were physically active.
The Current African-American Diet
The diet that is eaten by women of color in the States is very similar to the typical SAD, or Standard American Diet. Most of the sodium that these women eat has been added during the processing or cooking of the food. There are many sources of salt, and the following foods contain salt:
- Salad Dressings
It is advised that women of color do not add salt to their food while it is being cooked or before the food is eaten. This is due to the theory that these women are sensitive to salt. It is recommended that black women do not consume more than 1400 to 1500 mg of salt daily. The current intake of salt by black women on a daily basis is more than twice this amount.
How to Decrease the Amount of Salt Intake in Women of Color
It is extremely important that these women add more fresh fruits and vegetables to their diets, and consume less processed foods. If they choose to cook these foods, they should cook them with spices and herbs, and not salt. There are many tasty herbs and spices that can be added to cooked foods that will enhance their flavor. Some of the herbs and spices are:
- Chili Powder
Other Things That Help Reduce Hypertension
It is also important that you read the labels of any food product before you purchase it, and avoid any foods that exceed the recommended daily allowance for sodium. You can also choose to find healthier alternatives of your favorite foods. Be sure to include water in your daily diet so your body will remain hydrated, and include potassium rich foods in your diet like bananas and sweet potatoes.