The Association of Black Cardiologists is the premier organization dedicated to one mission: promote the prevention and treatment of cardiovascular disease, including stroke, and to achieve health equity for all through the elimination of health disparities. Since 1974, this non-profit has worked to achieve health equity, advocate for equal access to medical care and technologies, and mentor young physicians of color, particularly Black cardiologists. Learn more about the mission of the Association of Black Cardiologists here.

The dramatic and cumulative impact of care inequities affecting African-Americans has been confirmed in repeated studies over the past decades. According to current CDC data, African-Americans are 30% more likely to die from heart disease1 compared to non-Hispanic whites, and 40% more likely to not only have high blood pressure2, but also not have it under control3. In addition, African-American women are nearly 60% more likely to have high blood pressure than their non-Hispanic white counterparts3.

Prevention related to the plate

The ABC has consistently encouraged, and put into action, early screening and treatment for heart disease. But how to prevent heart disease or reduce its effects? Obesity (or having excess weight), diabetes, hypertension, and high cholesterol are all key risk factors for heart disease and stroke. Not surprisingly, what all have in common is diet.

Reducing risk factors with a plant-based diet

A proven way to reduce all these risk factors is the adoption of a plant-based (vegan) diet. Plant-based diets use a wide variety of vegetables, grains, fruits, beans, and nuts, while excluding animal foods—meat and fish--and animal products such as dairy and eggs. High in fiber and low in saturated fats, sugars, and sodium, a well-planned plant-based diet supplies the needed protein and nutrients for good health. It can help improve heart health through maintaining a healthy weight as well as lower blood sugar, cholesterol, and risk for blood clots.

The ABC, with over four decades of reaching out to communities of color, realized that it was not only diet itself that needed to change, but also duplicating the emotional satisfaction that specific tastes, variety, and textures have. Making the switch to plant-based nutrition had to be both healthy and appealing. So, the ABC called on their long-time patient education partner, Krames, to develop a first-ever plant-based recipe book specifically supporting heart health in the Black community, with additional support by Novartis.

How to make a plant-based diet appetizing

ABC_Cookbook_2021_00001The ABC collaborated with the Krames team to create the first Cooking for Your Heart and Soul cookbook in 2019. More than a cookbook, it helps readers with tips on transitioning to plant-based meals through simple steps that engage the whole family. Ingredient swaps, easy cooking methods, and recipes recreate the satisfying spiciness, smokiness, and textures of traditional dishes, creating meals that are heart healthy, nutritionally balanced, yet budget-friendly.

For instance, a simple swap of plant milks for whole milk or cream, and baking versus frying, reduce both fat and calories. Adding in protein through beans, peas, lentils, vegan ‘cheese’, and soy-based products add texture and satisfying fiber. Spices such as fennel, sage, chili powder, and paprika add kick to any dish while keeping sodium low.

How Krames assisted the ABC mission

As a medical society and advocacy organization, the ABC had limited resources to create and fulfill the demand projected for Cooking for Your Heart and Soul. They relied on the Krames team’s expertise not only in creative development with persuasive content, recipes, and colorful artwork appealing to their readers, but also the logistics of print and fulfillment management.

The ABC distributes the cookbook across the US to health fairs, churches, hospitals, schools, and at the ABC’s signature “Spirit of the Heart” community events—to date, 15,000 copies In two printings managed and fulfilled by Krames. The recipe book also won industry recognition with a 2019 MarCom Platinum award for excellence.

The recipe book is now being reprinted for a new round of national distribution. The ABC and Krames are hard at work on a new project, a guide to adult vaccinations.

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1 CDC 2021. National Vital Statistics Report, Vol. 69, No. 13. Table 10. [PDF | 2.05MB]
2 CDC 2021. Summary Health Statistics: National Health Interview Survey: 2018. Table A-1a.
3 CDC: 2017. Hypertension Prevalence and Control Among Adults: United States, 2015–2016. NCHS Data Brief, No. 289. Figure 4. [PDF | 361 KB]