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1991: Waianae Diet promotes Native Hawaiian culture, well-being

The Waianae Diet is based on the traditional Hawaiian diet, which is high in complex carbohydrates and fiber and low in fat. A study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition in 1991 involves 19 Native Hawaiians, who had an average weight loss of 17 pounds after three weeks on the diet. Other benefits noted in the study include decreases in cholesterol and blood sugar after using Native Hawaiian foods and ancient Hawaiian cooking methods. Participants are taught by Native Hawaiian healers about practices that promote well-being.

The principle foods in the diet are taro, poi, sweet potatoes, yams, breadfruit, greens, seaweed, fruit, and small amounts of fish cooked using ancient cooking methods. Cooking includes steaming, though most foods are served raw. A major motivation for people who use this diet is the revival of Native Hawaiian culture.

Medicine Ways

Gathering taro and taro leaves in the Waipo Valley on the Big Island, Hawaii. Taro is a staple of the traditional Hawaiian diet.

Courtesy Karen Kasmauski/Science Faction/Corbis