A Diabetes UK meeting focusing on advice for those wishing to cook healthier African and Caribbean food was held in Bristol in July. Type 2 Diabetes is up to three times more common among people of African and African-Caribbean origin than the general population.

In Bristol alone there are an estimated 16,000 people who have been diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes and a further 5,500 are believed to have the condition but not know it.

The meeting, which was hosted by the East Bristol Diabetes UK Voluntary Group, will focus on healthy African and Caribbean food, suitable for those with both Type 1 and Type 2 Diabetes and for anyone seeking a healthier lifestyle to help reduce their risk of developing Type 2 Diabetes in the future.

Monica Dinnall, clinical lead for nutrition and dietetics at Bristol Community Health, says: “Traditional African and Caribbean diets can often have high levels of fat, sugar and salt, which can lead to a range of health problems, including Type 2 diabetes, obesity and high blood pressure. “However, some traditional African and Caribbean meals and food choices can also be part of a healthy diet and can help someone with diabetes to manage their condition well. For example, eating a variety of traditional fruits, vegetables, and pulses can help people stay healthy.

Tips from Diabetes UK for healthier African and Caribbean cooking include:

  • Using less saturated fat, such as palm oil, coconut oil and butter
  • Grilling, steaming or oven baking food such as jerk chicken or beef, corn and pineapple fritters
  • Cutting down on food such as sugar cake, sweet potato pie, duckunoo, pudding and condensed milk as an easy way to reduce the sugar in your diet
  • Choosing healthier ways of cooking plantains, fish, breadfruit yams or dumplings, such as baking, grilling, boiling or poaching.
  • Avoiding refrying leftovers
  • Skimming fat from the top of stews and one pot meals
  • Choosing chicken and turkey, lean meat and fish over fatty meat and removing the skin from chicken