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African Americans often have strong religious affiliations.

Many are affiliated with Christian denominations—notably Baptist and Church of God in Christ. Maintaining good health is associated with good religious practice.

Many churches maintain a health ministry, through which congregations and parish nurses support good health with flu shots, blood pressure checks, and health education.

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Dishes such as hoppin’ John (rice, black-eyed peas, and salt pork), gumbos, jambalyas, fried porgies, and potlikker may all be considered soul food.

Okra is the principal ingredient in gumbo, a Creole stew, and is believed to have spiritual and healthful properties.

In 1965, African Americans were more than twice as likely as whites to eat a recommended diet of fruit, vegetables, fat, fiber, and calcium.

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

The following cultural patterns may represent many African Americans, but do not represent all people in a community.

Each person is an individual, as well as a community member.

Traditionally, many elders eat a large noon meal on Sunday after church.

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.

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.

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