The Food Pyramid: It Isn’t Your Father’s Food Pyramid
You may have seen a food pyramid posted on the bulletin board in elementary school. It was updated recently by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). Why was it updated?
Because we know more today than we did when you were in elementary school. We knew more last year than we did the year before. Research scientists have more tools to find more nutrients in fruits and vegetables every day and learning how they protect and heal us. An entire new field of study has grown up as you were growing up—all focusing on the nutrients in
plants. For the first time, scientists are getting clues to the color pigments in plant food (fruits, vegetables). . . not just which Vitamins the food contains.
For example, scientists have found that the color of fruits and vegetables directly relates to the health benefits. Each color has a unique way to protect our eyesight, skin, cells—and mend
or replace broken cells before they make us sick. For instance, yellow vegetables (for example carrots and squash) help protect our eye sight This is why it is so important to eat a variety of fruits and vegetables. Scientists have also found out why some of the ―junk food‖ we eat makes us feel ―junk.‖
Some of the changes made to the food pyramid bring us closer to a traditional Hawaiian diet, that is more plant foods, less fats and oils; more complex carbohydrates (carbs) less simple carbs (white rice); and less meat products.
The smallest tip of the pyramid is the place for ―Caution Foods‖ (Akahele): Fats, oils,
salt, sugars, and sweets. Scientists recommend that you heed the caution and eat very little from this part of the pyramid. Notice that ALL foods can be included. It’s just the amounts we eat that
need to be watched.
Another level of foods are the ―Body Building Foods‖ that include amino acids—the
―building blocks‖ of proteins.
There are two kinds of Body-Building foods: the Calcium Foods (Kalipuna) which are
foods that help build and repair bones; and Protein Foods (Kum`i`o) that contain some of the
building blocks of all life on Earth and help build muscle and blood cells.
The Calcium Food Group of the Body Building Foods includes dairy foods (low-fat
milk, yogurt, cheese), soybeans/tofu and other beans, leafy green vegetables (including taro/kalo
leaves), and the starchy underground corm of the kalo (taro), and limu.. These all provide us with calcium. About three servings are recommended each day.
The Protein Food Group (Kum`i`o) of the Body Building Foods includes meat (such as
beef and pork), fish, nuts, and eggs. These foods help make antibodies to fight infection, assist in building muscle, and help rejuvenate your skin. About 5 ? ounces a day are recommended for foods in this group.
Another layer of foods are called the “Protective Foods” group and includes vegetables
and fruit in every color of the rainbow. For this reason, it is called the ―Anuenue Group‖ in
Hawai`i. (Anuenue is Hawaiian for rainbow.)
Each color of fruit or vegetable brings an added layer of protection for the body to fight infection, repair cells and protect them from certain types of cancer. Most experts recommend getting as many ―colors‖ in your diet as possible. If you remember the ―5 a day‖ TV commercials or pamphlets created by the Hawai`i State Health Deparment, it may remind you to eat five different colors of fruit or vegetable every day.
Another layer of foods are called ―Energy Foods‖ (Kōpia Nohihi) or Carbohydrates
and include breads, cereals, rice, pasta. Have you switched from white bread to whole wheat or 12-grain bread? The white bread that has been stripped of most of its nutrition and is considered a ―simple carbohydrate.‖ The whole grain members of this group will release the starches much more slowly into your system, adding much-needed fiber to your diet. The 12-grain bread also has more nutritional value. White bread and white rice are quickly converted into sugar and released into your blood.
One important non-food is Water (Wai). Water is a basic need—at least 6-8 glasses a day.
The Hawaiians were able to collect fresh water for drinking and fill their gourds full of water from streams, springs and rivers. Being near water meant life or death. In fact, the word waiwai
(much water) is associated with wealth when you see it in Hawaiian names or places, for anyone with access to water could grow a lot of kalo/taro and other crops. (His family would not be hungry.)
Cut into strips. Handout to each student.
AKAHELE (caution foods)
KOPIA NOHIHI (energy foods)
Hawaiian Cultural Guide Food Pyramid
Top of Pyramid
AKAHELE – (Be Careful-Caution Foods) – Limit food that is high in calories sugar and fats. Limit these foods to special occasions.
Second Layer from Top:
Kalipuna (Calcium) – The bones of Hawaiian Ancestors were strong and healthy. Although they did not have cows they were able to eat enough calcium: you can get calcium from tofu, bans, fish, leafy vegetables and limu.
Kumuio – (Protein) The adult human body requires only 6-8 oz. of lean animal protein a day. The Hawaiian diet was similar to many other indigenous diets low in animal products. You can eat foods preparing them with lo fat cooking methods, and choose non-animal sources of protein; dried bean, nut butters, tofu. Third Layer from top:
Fruits and Vegetables – Anuenue – The rainbow reminds us to eat a variety of fruits and vegetables very day: deep yellow, greens, oranges, purple and reds. Eat 5-9 servings a day, include fruits and vegetables at every meal and snack.
Kopia Nohihi – Polynesian Carbohydrates, among the healthiest in the world: Taro, sweet potato, bread fruit, yams, green banana.
The whole pyramid lies on the foundation on WAI – water. Water was extremely important to
the Native Hawaiians, no one claimed ownership of it and everyone was responsible for its care. It nurtured the land, plants and bodies. Drink 8 glasses of plain water a day.
Hawaiian Food Pyramid from Hawai`i Dietetic Association (HAD):
Hawaiian Food Pyramid: Blank
Traditional Food Choices
FOOD GROUPS HAWAIIAN/POLYNESIAN OTHER TRADITIONAL (WHOLE) FOODS
Taro, all varieties (kalo) I. Staples Whole Grains Whole Grain
Sweet potato (`uala) (Roots & Whole Grains) Products Breadfruit (ulu) 4 daily servings* Brown rice Brown rice, flour, cereal, Banana, green (mai`a) 1 cup cooked brown rice milk,noodles/pasta Gourd (ipu) ? cup uncooked Yam (uhi) 1 large roll Whole oats Oatmeal, oat flour, oat dry Tapioca root (Manioka) cereal, whole oat breads/rolls Arrowroot (pia) Fern tree core (hapu`upuhi) Potatoes Barley grains Barley meal, flour, flakes
Millet Millet meal, flour, flakes
Rye berries Rye meal, flour, flakes
Wheat berries Wheatgerm, bulgur, bran,
pasta, noodles, flour,
breads and rolls II. Beans, Peas & Coconut (niu, popo) Beans and Peas (Legumes): Nuts Breadfruit nut
Azuki Garbanzo beans Miso 4 daily servings Native bean (Pāpapa) White beans Baby Lima beans Green peas ? cup cooked Kukui nut Mung beans Wing beans Black beans ? cup uncooked Great North- Soy beans Black-eyed ? cup nuts/seeds erns peas
Kidney beans Split peas Chinese peas
Lentils Tofu Peanuts
III. Vegetables Dark Green Leafy: Dark Green Leafy:
4 daily servings: taro leaves (laulau) Alfalfa sprouts Chinese cabbage
Bok Choy (white stem)
Watercress Turnip greens
Collard greens Spinach
Mustard greens Broccoli
Carrot Squash (butternut, spaghetti
Pumpkin (butternut, spaghetti, yellow, etc.)
Yam Red/Orange bell pepper
IV. Fruits Papaya Mango Orange Strawberries Pear
4 daily servings: Guava Liliko`i Grapefruit Tomato Grapes
? cup diced Banana, ripe Star fruit Tangerine Cantaloupe Jack fruit
? small melon Pineapple Vi Star fruit Peach Cherries
Other berries 1 medium fruit Wild berries Pomelo Plum
Lychee Other citrus Other melons Citrus (orange, tangerine, lime)
Fish Chicken Fish: Fresh frozen & dried or many varieties V. Animal Products
Shellfish: Pork Milk
Opihi Squid Products: Milk, yogurt, cottage cheese
Poultry/Fowl: Eggs, chicken, turkey & other var. Sea Urchin Sea Cucumber
Beef/Pork Note: Trim visible fat prior to cooking Lobster Dog Shellfish Note: Do not eat from polluted waters. Crab, etc. Wild birds/Fowl
“Waimanalo Family Nutrition Program,” 41-1347 Kalanianaole Highway, Waimanalo, Hawaii 96795 *
Developed by: Cecellia Alailima, M.D. * Consultant: Claire Hughes, M.S., R.D. * Photography: Danna
Martel * Funding: Office of Hawaiian Affairs (no date: has to be 4+ yrs)
Asian Diet Pyramid offers alternative to U.S. Food Guide Pyramid
Contact: Susan S. Lang
Phone: (607) 255-3613
Fax (607) 257-6397
Native American Food Pyramid
VEGETARIAN FOOD PYRAMID