According to the World Health Organization, the Japanese are some of the longest living and healthiest people on earth. There are many reasons why this should be, not least of all their diet, which is considered highly balanced and nutritious with lots of fresh raw fish and vegetables (discounting tempura batter, of course).
A Long and Healthy Life
The traditional Japanese diet consists of many different healthy vegetables, which is one reason why a Japanese diet is considered to be so healthy. The Japanese people believe that eating fresh produce along with adding other colorful foods with each meal is important. This is good advice and is the core to a healthy diet. Vegetables that include seaweed, shiitake, and daikon are delicious and low in calories but high in fiber, and they have the vitamins and minerals that a healthy body needs.
Japanese cuisine also consists of healthy sources of protein, which is beneficial and healthy. Tofu, fish, and beans are high in protein and many Japanese recipes are low in fat. It wasn’t until the late nineteenth century that red meat was introduced to Japan, added to diets in small increments. Furthermore, red meat has not fully replaced other healthy protein sources and is still only used in small portions, generally accompanied by vegetables.
Little and Often
It may surprise you to know that what is perhaps the main reason that a Japanese diet is so healthy is the frequency, variety and size of meals. The focus is on different types of food and smaller portions. In Japan, the average citizen eats up to twenty different food types each day. Nutritionists claim that ideally people should eat thirty small portions of nutritious food each day. You may be thinking that thirty small portions of foods is a lot, but many Japanese people have no problem reaching thirty small portions each day.
Everything in Moderation
A healthy Japanese diet starts with moderation, therefore it doesn’t matter if you have fried tempura as part of your meal or toro, you can be sure that the rest of your meal is a balance of vegetables, rice and other healthy food choices. Japanese people tend to enjoy whatever foods they want, but in small increments, then they add other healthy food options to balance their meals.
The way Japanese food is presented helps to maintain healthy portions, as does eating with chopsticks. In most Western restaurants the food is served in large portions on large plates, while in Japanese restaurants the food is presented on smaller plates and is usually served from the center of the table, everyone eating as their appetite dictates. Eating with chopsticks also slows down how quickly you eat, encouraging you to chew each mouthful more consciously, which in turn helps digestion and makes it less likely for you to over eat.
If you are trying to choose a diet, then you should try eating like the Japanese for a few weeks and see if you can notice any results. Take a look at the video below of Craig Anderson, the comedian. He has a documentary called Miso Hungry and the documentary shows him eating Japanese foods for three months and his weight loss is tracked. The video may surprise you.