Cooking program uses traditional African foods to promote health, wellness among African-Americans

Oldways launches program nationwide after successful pilot with Walmart Foundation support

BOSTON — A nutrition-education group is promoting health and wellness in African-American communities by teaching about traditional African cuisine.

Oldways announced Wednesday the launch of "A Taste of African Heritage," which it said would help communities reconnect with the ways of eating and living of early Africans and African-Americans in Africa, the South, the Caribbean and South America.

The program started as a pilot in 15 locations and will be expanded to 50 across the country this year and 100 next year. A grant from the Walmart Foundation is supporting the program, which includes the African Heritage Diet Pyramid that Oldways introduced in November 2011.

"Diabetes, obesity and heart disease are not a part of African-American heritage," Oldways president Sara Baer-Sinnott said. "Our 'A Taste of African Heritage' cooking program addresses these issues and is a springboard to the wonderful old ways of eating and living, creating new healthy traditions by introducing participants to the cultural and culinary roots of their ancestors."

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, African-Americans have the highest rate of obesity, 49.5%, and the highest rates of diabetes and deaths from cardiovascular disease.

The program is designed as a cooking and wellness series of six classes of 45 minutes to an hour, offered weekly and bi-weekly at community centers, churches and healthcare venues.

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