Newsletter 02/15/2021 | Volume 1, Issue 2

Black Farmers Support Healthy Hearts

February is Black History and American Heart month. As we commemorate the works of our ancestors and contemporaries, consider using the following information to maintain awareness of the many contributions to farming by our ancestors and a healthy heart.

Awareness is Key! Adopting a healthy lifestyle significantly decreases the risk of heart disease.

Are you getting enough magnesium?

Magnesium is one of the many minerals of great importance in our diets. As the National Institutes of Health (NIH) points out, the mineral Magnesium has a hand in 300 enzymatic processes in the body. Magnesium affects muscle control, nerve function, blood glucose levels, energy production, and bowel motility. Sufficient levels of magnesium operates as a natural calcium channel blocker (a critical component of bone health), manage diabetes and is responsible for relaxation. Low magnesium levels may lead to calcium absorption problems and increased levels of irritability. When magnesium deficiency becomes chronic, we suffer the symptoms of heart dis-ease such as angina pectoris, osteoporosis, hypertension and arrhythmia, or the spasms and contractions characteristic of asthma or migraine headaches according to a review of research published in March 2018 in the International Journal of Endocrinology. Leafy green vegetables are the best source for magnesium. Nuts, seeds, avocados, turnips, whole grains, fruits and blackstrap molasses also contain significant amounts of magnesium.

Be mindful of your sodium intake.

Sodium, along with potassium, pumps nutrients into cells and remove cellular waste products. Sodium also regulates fluid pressure in cells thus affecting your blood pressure. With other nutrients, sodium works to control the acid/alkaline balance within your body.

The Sugar!

There are two types of sugar: naturally occurring sugar like lactose in milk and added sugar, which includes table sugar (sucrose) as well as concentrated sources like fruit juice. The current recommendations from the World Health Organization (WHO) are that only 5% of your daily calorie intake should consist of added, or ‘free’ sugars. This equates to approximately seven teaspoons (30g) for an adult. To put this into perspective, one can of fizzy drink may contain seven teaspoons or more, so it’s easy to reach the recommended daily amount, especially when you consider the sugar added to food that you don’t see. Virtually all the fiber, phytochemical, vitamin and mineral content have been removed from the sugar cane during the process of creating white sugar (sucrose). Eating too many carbohydrates, particularly simple sugars, can be harmful to blood sugar control, especially if you are insulin resistant, experience reactive hypoglycemia or are diabetic. Eating excess sugar can lead to weight gain, which increases the risk of heart dis-ease and type 2 diabetes.

Balancing Fat Intake

The balance between essential fatty acids (EFA), saturated fats and trans fatty acids is critical to a healthy heart, skin, joints and cellular health. Some fats are better for you than others and may even help to promote good health. Knowing the difference can help you determine which fats to avoid and which to eat in moderation. Essential fatty acids cannot be produced by our bodies. The Omega-3 EFA (ALA, EPA and DHA) promotes a positive immune response and is the body’s strongest inflammation-reducing compound. The American Heart Association recommends the consumption of Omega-3 fatty acids to reduce risk factors associated with heart disease including hypertension, high triglycerides and atherosclerosis. Omega-3 fatty acids also reduce the risk of sudden cardiac death. The Omega-6 EFA (LA, GLA AA) also promotes a positive immune response but with low levels of Omega-3s, Omega-6s will enhance the inflammatory response in our bodies. The American Heart Association recommends changing the ratio Omega-6s to Omega-3s from 15:1 to 4:1. Trans Fatty Acids Trans fatty acids are “New-to-nature” molecules produced in the hydrogenation of vegetable oil. Trans fatty acids allow for increased shelf life and crispness of processed foods such as chips, cookies, fried foods, margarine and baked goods. Trans fatty acids are incorporated into the cell membrane; however, the body does not know what to do with them. They will disrupt the vital functions of EFAs, promote atherosclerosis, raise cholesterol and triglyceride levels and are strongly associated with an increased risk for heart disease. Saturated Fats Most saturated fats are animal fats. They’re found in high fat meats and dairy products.

Where are your stress levels?

Stress is a major contributor to most ailments of the heart. The autonomic system, which controls involuntary body functions and mechanics, is divided into sympathetic and parasympathetic systems. The autonomic system is important because all the vital functions and overall state of health are under its control. Our beating hearts are managed without conscious input by the autonomic nervous system. The parasympathetic nervous system represents the normal, well-coordinated, balanced functioning of vital body functions and processes. The sympathetic nervous system is called into play when this harmony has been disrupted, leading to less support of vital bodily functions and processes. This state is also known as “Fight or Flight”. If the sympathetic nervous system is called into action too frequently, our bodies may suffer from a chronic depletion of vital organ support which can adversely impact our heart, adrenal glands, digestive glands, blood pressure and other vital organs and processes. If and when you find yourself in the midst of a “Sympathetic Stress Response”, use any of the following tips to switch back into the “Parasympathetic” state: • Breathe slowly and deeply for five (5) minutes • Spend thirty (30) minutes a day in nature Take a relaxing bath Attend a yoga class Meditate (Even for just ten (10) minutes) Connect with a good friend

Heart Healthy Foods

Thanks to farmers, we enjoy eating “Healthy Heart Foods”. As we celebrate Black History Month, we remember that our enslaved ancestors labored to provide cheap cotton that set-in motion the textile factories at the beginning of the industrial age and the rise of the American economy. We also know that Black labor on Southern plantations has been the backbone of our nation’s first economy. The next natural progression for Black laborers was farming. Jim Crow and other nefarious tactics pushed Black farmers off their land or Black farmers were forced to give up their land when they could not get loans or subsidies. Black farmers often did not get the expert help they needed to succeed as farming became a business of chemical fertilizers, crop rotations and foreign markets. Under the weight of Jim Crow and other nefarious tactics, our ancestors made revolutionary advancements in our American food system.
I invite you to enjoy a plate of (Healthy Heart Foods from many different farms ) and join me in a standing ovation for:
I invite you to enjoy a plate of "Healthy Heart Foods" and join me in a standing ovation for:

  • Henry Blair (1807-1860) Inventor of corn & cotton planter that increased farm efficiencies. The horse drawn corn planter held and dropped seeds to the ground and used a rake to cover the seeds. Blair was the second African American to receive a US patent.
  • Robert Lloyd Smith (1861-1942) Founded the “Farmers Improvement Society of Texas (FIST)”. FIST was a Black farming cooperative supporting Black farmers toward economic independence. FIST worked to abolish the sharecropping and credit system that ensnared poor farmers. Encourage self-sufficiency. Promote home and farm ownership. Promote crop diversification and use of improved farming methods. Foster cooperative buying and selling. Provide Health benefits.
  • George Washington Carver (1864-1943) Promoted soil heath by advocating the benefits of composting. Developed a crop rotation method to mitigate high levels of nitrogen in soil. Carver used composting techniques to ensure soil revitalization to increase productivity. Carver’s innovation led to significant crop harvest gains and gave Southern farmers crop diversity.
  • Frederick McKinley Jones (1893-1961) Inventor of the refrigerated truck, entrepreneur and winner of the National Medal of Technology. In 1940, Frederick patented his refrigerated system so that perishable foods could be shipped further distances via trucks, boats, planes and boxcars.
  • Booker T. Whatley (1915-2005) An Alabama horticulturist, author, Tuskegee University professor and innovator of the modern Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) model. Whatley remarked that the two (2) biggest problems facing any farmer, especially small farmers, is labor and marketing. Whatley wrote a book entitled “How to make $100,000 farming 25 Acres” which explored his ten (10) commandments of farming.
  • Fannie Lou Hamer (1917-1977) Founder of the Freedom Farm Cooperative, American voting and women’s rights activist and community organizer. The Freedom Farm worked to make land accessible to black farmers and provide a Source of food and employment for marginalized communities in the Mississippi Delta area.

In Conclusion...

Continue to eat balanced meals which include protein, fiber, fats and the right level of carbohydrates for you. Work with your doctor or healthcare professional to determine what works best with your body. Take a moment to find out about local farming in your area and don't forget to get outside and get some fresh air; take a walk.


Dietary Fats and Inflammation(Glen D. Lawrence, in Handbook of Lipids in Human Function, 2016):

Healthline Sugar Survey:

Black Farmers Struggling to keep their land:

Magnesium and Human Health: Perspectives and Research Directions

The Magnesium Web Site:


Why do we need magnesium?:

Checklist for a healthy heart: