Dear Doctors: Some people have told me that soul food is bad for my health and may cause disease. Is this true?
T.C.R., Seattle, Wash.
Dear T.C.R: Soul food is not in itself bad for your health if you have a balanced diet otherwise.
As you know, soul food, which refers both to the ingredients and the style of cooking, has a very high fat content. It would normally include a great deal of pork - pig's feet, ham hocks, bacon, chops, sausage and ribs. In addition, soul food-style meats are generally fried, as are chicken and fish.
Furthermore, vegetables, such as collard greens, beans, etc., are usually cooked with a great deal of fat and grease. Diet that are high in animal fat have been linked to heart disease and blood vessel damage.
Such a diet also can cause obesity, which may put an overall strain on the body, particularly the heart. Obesity impairs health and longevity in general, according to health statistics. Therefore, a reduction of fats in the diet may help to reduce the health hazards that accompany being overweight.
Soul food diets also have come under medical scrutiny because they usually have a high salt content. Some health experts believe long-term, excessive intake of salt may trigger high blood pressure in certain individuals.
High blood pressure (hypertension) is a serious illness that occurs more frequently among blacks than whites. Physicians do not entirely understand what causes this difference, but, meanwhile, salt should be taken in moderation.
In summary, soul food, if eaten exlclusively and in great quantity, may be a health hazard.
Dear Doctors: I'm a black high school student, and my friends tell me that me that since the Supreme Court ruled in favor of Bakke, I should give up my wish to become a doctor because blacks just won't be accepted into medical school anymore.
John J. Roxbury, Mass.
Dear John: It is not true that blacks will no longer gain admission into professional schools because of the Bakke decision. The Supeme Court ruled that Allan Bakke, a white student, he admitted into the University of California Medical School at Davis, which had set aside 16 places (a quota) exclusively for minorities and had a separate minority admissions committee. This arrangement was felt to be discriminatory to students such as Bakke.
However, the Supreme Court decision supported affirmative action and suggested that race could be used as one factor when considering students for admission to colleges and graduate schools.
Most legal authorities believe minorities will continue to gain admission into medical schools, at least at the present rate, despite the Bakke case.
Therefore, it is very important for you to work to work hard and pursue your goal of becoming a physician. One problem schools are having now is finding enough applicants. The larger the black applicant pool for medical schools, the more blacks will get accepted.
Instead of letting your friends discourage you from becoming a pre-med student, turn the tables around and encourage them to become a pre-med, pre-law or other pre-professional student.