The New African Heritage Diet Pyramid Combines Health and Food Traditions

Although the newly released MyPlate icon is a great tool for many, it’s not specific for any single population. For individuals who are looking for more in depth and culturally specific food recommendations, useful tools similar to the MyPlate icon are becoming available.

The most recent addition is the New African Heritage Diet Pyramid. The pyramid better resembles the traditional food pyramid that has recently been replaced by the plate, but no matter its appearance, it’s a helpful tool to better plan a well-balanced diet.

Individuals of African American decent may find this pyramid particularly useful. As diabetes, obesity, and heart disease are not true components of African American heritage, Oldways and a team of experts have developed this new pyramid to appropriately identify ways to incorporate foods from traditional diets of the African Dispora in a way that promotes nutritious eating and healthy living.


Thanks to a grant from the Walmart Foundation, the non-profit organization Oldways was able to gather a team of nutrition scientists, health experts, and culinary historians to develop a cultural food model that bridges the gap between healthy eating and the lost foods prepared and enjoyed years ago.

According Constance Brown-Riggs, MSED, RD, the author of The African American Guide to Living Well with Diabetes, the new pyramid is an innovative tool that consumers and health care professionals can use to start a very important conversation.

In addition to a comprehensive pyramid, the African Heritage Diet Pyramid comes with 12 plates and recipes that can be used to showcase the cuisines of cultures past. These plates show individuals how various foods found on the pyramid can be combined for knock-out meals that taste great and are good for you. From Baked Pecan-Crusted Catfish to Jollof Rice with Black Eyed Peas, the various dishes are inspired by old traditions in an effort to start new ones around the kitchen stove.

Although this pyramid may provide a few new advantages, it isn’t the first released by Oldways or the first to encourage incorporation of cultural heritage. Whether you have Mediterranean, Asian, or Latin American roots, Oldways has a food pyramid specifically geared towards your ethnic background. They also offer a vegetarian food pyramid less focused on ethnic background, but geared towards those who choose to incorporate little to no animal products into their daily meal plan. Having a more specific food guide for individuals with varied eating patterns, culturally based or not, can better equip them to plan well-balanced meals each day with foods they are familiar with and more likely to enjoy.

These pyramids have been used by millions of people in homes, grocery stores, doctors’ offices, and in nutrition consults. Whether you are a health professional looking for more creative options to assist your clients in meal planning or an individual looking to try new dishes culturally relevant to your own ancestry, Oldways provides the resources needed to do so.

In 2012,  the Native American Hertiage Diet Pyramid is set to make its debut; however, with more food preferences and dietary restrictions becoming known, this may not be the new food pyramid on the block for long.

Also Read:

Are African Americans Targeted for Obesity by Marketers?

Exercise Offers Breast Cancer Hope for African American Women

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