Hawaiian Culture and Dietary Practices

Topics: Nutrition, Saturated fat, Native Hawaiians Pages: 5 (1760 words) Published: February 25, 2008
Hawaiian Culture and Dietary Practices
Hawaiian culture, health, and diet have all adapted throughout the years. Hawaiian medicine consisted of three elements: god, man, and environment. As the years went on Hawaiians adapted more traditional medicines and practitioners of different medical practices. Many Hawaiians were holistic, meaning they believed in spiritual, generosity, harmony, and humility for healing. Many Hawaiians believed that you could not have health without life. Even though Hawaiians adapted more new traditional medicines, studies still showed that Pacific Islanders, including Hawaiians, were seven times more likely to develop diabetes, mellitus, and other secondary health issues than Caucasians. Traditional Islanders were active and had diets primarily low in fat and high in fiber from the land and sea. Today their diets are high in calories, salt, fats, and refined foods, therefore increasing the incidence of chronic diseases such as diabetes and some heart diseases. The traditional Hawaiian diet was high in complex carbohydrates such as ocean vegetables (especially uala leaves, kalo leaves, and popolo). It also consists of lean fresh animal foods (primarily from the ocean, with some chicken) with most of the meals cooked raw or steamed. The traditional Hawaiian diet was one of the best in the world, and many of the ancient Hawaiians were fit and active. The dietary analysis will show what kinds of foods the Hawaiians consume on an average day. Generosity is one of the highest values of Hawaiian culture. The most common way Hawaiians were generous was from sharing their food. Hawaiian health and diet is a big part of the Hawaiian culture, and what they consume influences the way they live. General Background

"According to the 2000 census, more than 140,000 U.S. citizens were identified as Native Hawaiians. Representing the largest percentage (35 percent) of American Pacific Islanders" (Kittler, p 333). Many of the Hawaiians settled in the West Coast mostly in California. "They tend to fall in the lowest income brackets and tend to have the lowest levels of education in the state" (Mokuau, p465). "Ancient Hawaiians were strong sturdy and capable of bearing great fatigue. They were farmers, hunters, gathers, and they enjoyed a diversity of foods. Traditionally, ancient Hawaiians were fit and their diet may have been known to be one of best in the world. It was a simple, high starch, high fiber, low saturated fat, low sodium, and low cholesterol diet. It contained 12 percent protein, 18 percent fat and 70 percent carbohydrates" (Mau, p 1). "The diet of ancient Hawaiians consisted of sufficiently high nutritional value to promote, and maintain good health" (Knaefler, p 1). Pig was rarely served, except on special occasions. "Male commoners may have snitched a bit or two of kalua pig from the imu, but the women were forbidden to eat pig, turtle, several choice fish, bananas, and coconuts" (Knaefler, p 1). However, today the women are aloud to have these choice foods. Dietary Patterns and Practices

One of the main staple foods of the Hawaiians is poi ( taro root). It is known to be on of the most nutritious carbohydrates known. Poi is a glutinous purple paste made from pounded taro root, and it was only eaten fresh (Mau, 2002). Poi has great significance in the Hawaiian culture, it represents Haloa, the ancestors and chiefs and kanaka maoli (native Hawaiians). There was great reverence for the presents of poi at the table. It was unforgettable to have a quarrel, argue or haggle when poi was on the table. Pleasant conversation and heartiness was promoted while poi was on the table" (Mau, p 1). "Other foods that are consumed in a high number are yam and sweet potato, breadfruit, vegetables like watercress, island fruit (such as papaya), rice, seaweed as a condiment, 2 to 3-ounce potions of fish or skinned chicken and tea made of Hawaiian herbs" (Knaefler, p 2). "Fish and seafood...
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