Nutritious eating

FUNDING SOURCE: National Institutes Health, National Heart Lung and Blood Institute (2017-2022)



African Americans (AAs) are disproportionately affected by cardiovascular disease (CVD), having the highest death rates from CVD as compared with other racial/ethnic groups. In addition, AAs have the highest rates of obesity as compared to whites and Hispanics. People following plant-based dietary approaches, particularly vegan or vegetarian diets, have lower risks of CVD and lower body weights than omnivores. Vegan and vegetarian diets have been used effectively for weight loss and maintenance and for reversing CVD. Although intervention trials have shown a significant weight-loss and cholesterol-lowering effect of adoption of plant-based diets, to date, most of these large randomized trials have had limited participation from AA participants. AAs tend to lose less weight during behavioral interventions than their white counterparts. In addition, most research has shown that AAs are more likely to discontinue participation in behavioral dietary interventions. This combination of higher attrition and lower weight loss may be due to a failure to address issues that are culturally relevant to the AA population. The goal of our Nutritious Eating with Soul (NEW Soul) study is to apply these findings in a CVD prevention intervention specifically for AAs living in the southeast U.S. We have developed a partnership with the owners of soul food restaurants in Columbia, SC. These restaurants, which focus on southern cuisine, are owned and operated by local AA families, and will assist with developing culturally-appropriate recipes for our intervention. We will conduct a two-year dietary trial among overweight AA adults (N=130) randomized to follow one of two diets both emphasizing southern food culture and low-glycemic index and low-fat foods: Vegan or Omnivorous (omni) diet. This study will compare the impact of these diet patterns on changes in CVD risk factors, including LDL cholesterol and blood pressure, and body weight. If this intervention proves to be successful at reducing weight and CVD risk factors among AAs, it has the potential to be disseminated through a variety of locations throughout the US, including restaurants, federally qualified health clinics, churches, or neighborhood community centers. To learn more about the NEW Soul study, visit