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The African Heritage Food Pyramid

The USDA has been putting out food pyramids as a guide for American consumers for years now. These healthy eating guides generalize the foods that the American population eats as a whole, and some individuals living in this country coming from different cultural background may not identify as well with the broad foods given as examples in each of the food groups. Oldways, a culture-preservation based non-profit, has been making recent strides to translate these nutrition-minded food pyramids into new pyramids that address the particular food items of specific cultures. Its latest food pyramid, the African Heritage Food Pyramid, has been launched for those of African, Caribbean, South American, and Southern American decent. Its aim is to create a healthy eating model that addresses specific foods from African history, culture, and traditional cuisine.

The fifth of its kind, this African Heritage Food Pyramid is an instructional tool to help Africans facilitate their diets in accordance with foods of their specific history and traditional cuisine. The research used to assemble this food pyramid was sponsored by the Walmart Foundation. The research, provided by a conglomerate of experts, nutritionists, and culinary historians, is said to connect individuals with their roots of African Diaspora that they may not have access to regularly. Featured foods on the pyramid include watermelon, mango, various types of greens, and plantains in the fruits and vegetable category. The pyramid includes a section exclusive to herbs and spices. Chicken is particularly highlighted in the meats category, and a slice of sweet potato pie is suggested as the dessert of choice. The pyramid also shows Africans playing basketball for exercise.

At first look, these food pyramids could be offensive. However, after examining the offered information, the diagram only appropriately categorizes foods regularly consumed by the ethnic group from a cultural perspective. Like the USDA food pyramid, the African Heritage Food Pyramid is meant as a tool to illustrate how much Africans should consume of the traditional foods they may already eat–while celebrating their roots in African American cuisine.

Oldways has also provided food pyramids for Latin Americans, Mediterranean, Asian, and vegetarians. The mission for all pyramids seems to be the same: to offer healthy eating guides for individuals of differing cultures, traditions, and lifestyles.


Oldways. (n.d.). The African Heritage Diet. Retrieved from


By Tiffany Black