University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa Food Science and Human Nutrition Program and Human Nutrition Program

He pūkoʻa kani ʻāina

A coral reef that grows into an island

Bowl of poke
Ahi poke by Arnold Gatilao / CC BY 2.0

Learning Objectives

By the end of this chapter, you will be able to:

  • Describe the role and structure of proteins
  • Describe the functions of proteins in the body
  • Describe the consequences of protein imbalance

Protein is a vital constituent of all organs in the body and is required to perform a vast variety of functions. Therefore, protein is an essential nutrient that must be consumed in the diet. Many Pacific Island societies such as the Native Hawaiians accompanied their starch meals with some type of meat or seafood. In Hawai‘i, a typical meal consisted of taro or poi accompanied with fish. Fish is known to be a source which means that all nine are present in the recommended amounts needed. Native Hawaiians ate their fish raw, cooked, salted or dried. If the fish was to be eaten raw, it was prepared by mashing the flesh with the fingers (lomi) to soften the meat and allow the salt to penetrate the flesh deeper. If the fish was not soft enough to lomi, it was cut into chunks or slices or left whole. Today, the most popular and contemporary prepared way of eating fish is known as poke.  Poke, which means “cut up pieces” in Hawaiian, is chopped up chunks of fish that can be seasoned in a variety of different ways.  Some common ways of seasoning include salt, shoyu (soy sauce), limu (seaweed), garlic, and onions. Any type of fish can be used to make poke but ahi (tuna) fish is typically the most desirable option.[1]

Your protein-rich muscles allow for body strength and movement, which enable you to enjoy many activities.

Man riding green bicycle
William Hook

Learning Activities

Technology Note: The second edition of the Human Nutrition Open Educational Resource (OER) textbook features interactive learning activities.  These activities are available in the web-based textbook and not available in the downloadable versions (EPUB, Digital PDF, Print_PDF, or Open Document).

Learning activities may be used across various mobile devices, however, for the best user experience it is strongly recommended that users complete these activities using a desktop or laptop computer and in Google Chrome.



  1. Fish Preparation/Eating. Updated 2017. Accessed October 30, 2017.


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Introduction Copyright © 2020 by University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa Food Science and Human Nutrition Program and Human Nutrition Program is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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