Black Women & High Blood Pressure

What You Can Do to Reduce It

Although heart disease is the leading killer of all individuals in developing nations, the rate is much higher for Blacks in America and especially young Blacks in America. Black people develop heart disease at younger ages than any other group. Not only do we develop heart disease more frequently but we also die from heart disease more frequently. (That is a two-fold discussion that I won't dip into in this article.) What the studies have revealed is that African-Americans internalized racism - which therefore has an effect on their heart, their blood pressure, and eventually manifests itself as heart disease. It's that internalized racism in combination with the Standard American Diet (SAD) leads to a disease that cannot be managed by blood pressure pills alone.


As a Black woman living in the United States, it's imperative to not only have an outlet for internalized racism or micro-aggressions, but to change one's diet in order to be in the best position to combat the natural & unnatural stressors. So what is the best diet for an African American or Black woman living in the United States? I, along with other scientists, postulate that it is a plant-based diet. A diet devoid of any animal products. Animal products have a direct correlation to high LDL cholesterol in the bloodstream which eventually damages blood vessels. A diet rich in fruits and vegetables helps to repair damaged blood vessels; damage caused by high blood pressure. A stressful environment (one where you are ever aware of your vulnerability) produces a hormonal affect on the body which in-turn elevates blood pressure. A diet rich in antioxidants, fiber, phytochemicals can help repair the damage caused by high blood pressure and mitigate the effects of environmental stressors on the heart.


Sample diet to reduce high blood pressure:



Breakfast:

½ cup raw blueberries

½ cup chopped mango

2 tbs raw, unsalted almonds

1 cup cooked oatmeal sweetened with raw honey, pinch of salt (cooked in water)


Lunch:

Baked sweet potato topped with raw pecans* (no oil or butter, season to taste)

¾ cup black bean chili

1 cup lightly steamed broccoli (no oil or butter, season to taste)

1 cup lightly steamed spinach (no oil or butter, season to taste)


Dinner:

Mixed salad greens topped with:

¼ cup cherry tomatoes, sliced

½ cup cucumbers, diced

½ cup steamed beets, cooled, diced

1 sml granny smith apple, diced


*Optional, drizzle with 1.5 tsp maple syrup


A couple years ago I did a presentation at a Black Church regarding heart disease and African Americans. The term “Black Church” refers to a congregation of people who are predominantly of African descent, typically outside of the African continent. In the US, the church congregants can be made up of African Americans, Caribbeans, South Americans, and Africans from the continent; it's usually a mixture of the diaspora and native Continental Africans. However, varying the backgrounds, the congregants tend to all have the same thing in common when it comes to health.


Studies show, after being in this country for a significant amount of time, the health of Blacks and their posterity tends to decrease in relation to those on the continent of Africa. Black people in America have worse outcomes and have a higher rate of heart disease than any other group of people. This is reflected when individuals come from the continent and live in this country for a bit of time. Their fate is the same. What is the reason for this? I did an entire lecture series that can be viewed on YouTube about this topic, but I'll save you the hour and a half and get right down to the nitty-gritty: Racism. Watch Pt 1 & Pt2 of the lecture here: https://youtu.be/taZw1V8bx3Y

All sources are cited and recorded in the presentation so watch it for a more rounded perspective on the topic, and here's to your health, Sis!