Health : what is the Japanese diet and why is it good for us?
The traditional Japanese diet is a healthy diet that is based on whole foods and is rich in fish, seafood and also herbal with minimum amounts of animal protein, added sugars and fats. The healthy Japanese diet is based on traditional Japanese cuisine, also known as ‘washoku’ which consists of small dishes of fresh, simple and seasonal ingredients.
Japanese healthy diet is very rich in nutrients and very good for health
This way of eating is rich in nutrients and can have many health benefits, including weight loss, digestion, longevity and improved well-being. In this article you will find everything you want to know about the traditional Japanese diet.
The traditional Japanese diet can help you lose weight and stay healthy
What is the Japanese healthy diet?
The traditional Japanese diet consists of sparse, seasonal foods that are served in a wide variety of small dishes. This style of eating emphasizes dishes with a natural flavor instead of masking the taste with sauces and seasonings.
This healthy diet contains a lot of steamed rice, noodles, fish, tofu, natto, seaweed and fresh, cooked or marinated fruits and vegetables but very low in added sugars and fats. The diet can also contain eggs, dairy products or meat, although these products are often present in very small quantities.
Healthy diet includes lots of steamed rice and noodles
The Japanese diet is similar to the Okinawan diet, which has its origins on the Japanese island of Okinawa, but includes much more rice and fish. The traditional Japanese diet contrasts with modern Japanese cuisine, which is heavily influenced by the West and China and includes large amounts of animal protein and processed foods.
In summary, it can be said that the Japanese diet is rich in poorly processed, fresh and seasonal foods. It contains very few amounts of added sugars, fats and animal proteins and highlights fish, seafood, rice, noodles, seaweed, soy, fruits and vegetables.
How to follow the healthy Japanese diet?
Japanese meals usually consist of basic foods combined with soup, main dish and a few side dishes.
– Basic foods: steamed rice or soba, ramen or udon noodles.
– Soup: usually a miso soup made with seaweed, seafood or tofu and vegetables in a fermented soy broth. Other popular options are vegetable and noodle soups.
-Main dish: fish, seafood, tofu or natto with small amounts of meat, poultry or eggs optional
-Side dishes: raw, steamed, sautéed, grilled or marinated vegetables, wild plants, seaweed and raw or marinated fruits.
Japanese meals are known for their rich umami taste, which is described as the fifth taste, separated by sweet, salty, bitter and spicy. Natural umami enriches the taste of vegetables and other nutrient-rich foods in Japanese cuisine.
Visual appearance is another important aspect of natural Japanese cuisine. The dishes are eaten in small bites with chopsticks, since this method creates a rich harmony of tastes, according to the Japanese. Hot green tea or cold barley tea is the beverage of choice, while alcoholic drinks such as beer or sake are typically served for dinner. Snacks are not common and rarely eaten.
Traditional Japanese dishes consist of steamed rice or noodles served with hot soup, seafood or a soy dish and a few side dishes. Naturally occurring umami is used to improve the taste of food.
Potential health benefits of healthy Japanese diet
The traditional Japanese diet is linked to many positive health effects. The Japanese diet is very rich in nutrients and beneficial compounds. It is naturally rich in many nutrients, including fiber, calcium, potassium, magnesium, iron and vitamins A, C and E.
Vegetables contribute to the nutritional density of this diet and are often cooked in dashi, dried fish and broth made from sea vegetables. This reduces their volume and improves their taste, making them easier to eat in large quantities. The diet also offers a large amount of seaweed and green tea. Seaweed and green tea are great sources of antioxidants, which are beneficial compounds that protect the body from cell damage and certain diseases. On top of that, the large amount of fish and seaweed dishes included in the diet offer omega 3s that help the brain, eyes and heart health.
- Japanese diet can improve digestion
Sea algae, soy, fruits and vegetables are naturally rich in fiber, a nutrient that helps digestion. Insoluble fiber helps pass food through the intestines and adds bulk to the stool, reducing the risk of constipation.
These foods also boast soluble fiber that feeds beneficial bacteria in the stomach and helps reduce the space available for bad bacteria to multiply. When bacteria in the stomach eat soluble fiber, they produce short-chain fatty acids that can reduce inflammation and symptoms of irritated bowels, symptoms of Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis.
In addition to this, the pickled fruits and vegetables often consumed in this diet are a very good source of probiotics. These beneficial bacteria improve the health of the intestines and reduce digestive symptoms such as gas, constipation, diarrhea and bloating.
- Japanese diet can help you keep a healthy weight
The traditional Japanese diet is rich in vegetables, offers small portions and is also naturally poor in added sugars and fats. These factors all contribute to a diet with very few calories.
On top of that, Japanese culture encourages eating until you feel 80 percent full. This practice discourages overeating and can contribute to the caloric deficit that is so necessary for losing weight. In addition to this, some scientific research shows that high-fiber vegetables, soybeans and soups typical for the Japanese diet can help reduce appetite and help to feel full and thus help with weight control. There is also evidence to suggest that alternating between meals is very common during traditional Japanese meals and this fact can reduce the amount of food eaten per meal.
- Japanese diet can protect against chronic disease
The traditional Japanese diet can protect against medical conditions like type 2 diabetes and heart disease. The healthy Japanese diet is naturally rich in fish, algae, green tea, fruits and vegetables but very low in added sugars and fats in animal proteins. All of these factors can protect against heart disease.
In reality, the risk of cardiovascular disease of Japanese remains very low despite the fact that their food is very rich in salt which typically increases the risk of this type of disease. On top of that, in a 6-week scientific study of 33 people who followed the Japanese diet, 91 percent of these men had a significant reduction in the risk of type 2 diabetes, including being overweight and bad cholesterol. .
The increased consumption of green tea which is encouraged by the Japanese diet can protect against Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease and certain types of cancer.
- Japanese diet can help you live longer
Japan is one of the countries with the highest life expectancy, which experts attribute to the traditional Japanese diet. In reality, the Japanese island Okinawa is considered to be a Blue Zone, which is a region with a very high longevity. It’s good to know that Okinawa’s diet focuses on eating sweet potatoes and has less rice and fish than the traditional Japanese diet.
In a scientific study which lasted 15 years and which is carried out on 75,000 Japanese people who strictly followed the traditional Japanese diet have a 15 percent lower risk of premature death compared to those who followed the traditional diet. Western countries. Experts link the increased life experience to the emphasis of the traditional Japanese diet on whole, minimally processed foods and its small amount of sugar and fat. The traditional Japanese diet is rich in nutrients and can aid digestion, weight loss and longevity. Diet can also reduce the risk of chronic disease.
Foods to Eat in the Traditional Japanese Diet
The Japanese diet is rich in:
- Fish and seafood. All types of fish and shellfish can be included. These foods can be eaten steamed, grilled, cooked or raw as in the case of sushi and sashimi.
- Soy foods. The most common foods include edamame, tofu, soy sauce, tamari and natto.
- Fruits and vegetables. Generally, fruits are eaten raw or marinated, while vegetables are steamed, sautéed, marinated, in soup.
- Sea vegetables are a big part of the traditional Japanese diet. Seaweed is generally eaten raw or dried.
- The light dough is prepared by mixing wheat flour with iced or sparkling water. It serves as a dough for seafood and fried vegetables.
- Rice or noodles. Steamed rice is a staple in the traditional Japanese diet. Other popular options are soba, ramen or udon served warm or oi with hot soup.
- Hot green tea and cold barley tea are the basic drinks in the diet, although beer or sake can be consumed with dinner.
Small amounts of red meat, poultry, eggs and dairy products can be included in the diet. However, these foods do not constitute a large part of the traditional diet.
Foods to Limit or Avoid
The traditional Japanese diet limits or excludes the following foods:
- Dairy products: butter, milk, cheese, yogurt, ice cream etc.
- Red meat and poultry: beef, pork, chicken, turkey etc.
- Eggs: cooked, fried omelet etc.
- Excess fats, oils and sauces: margarine, cooking oils, dressings, fatty sauces etc.
- Bakery products: bread, tortillas, croissants, pies, brownies, muffins etc.
- Processed or sweet foods: cereals, granola bars, sweets, sugary drinks etc.
Desserts can be included in the traditional Japanese diet but these desserts are based on natural ingredients such as fruit, matcha, red bean paste etc.
Simple menu example for the traditional Japanese diet
Here is a typical traditional Japanese menu for three days:
Day 1 :
-Breakfast: miso soup, steamed rice, natto, and seaweed salad.
– Lunch: soba noodles in a dashi-based broth, grilled tuna, kale salad and boiled vegetables.
-Dinner: Udon noodle soup, fish tart, edamame and pickled vegetables.
-Breakfast: miso soup, steamed rice, an omelet, dried trout, marinated fruit
– Lunch: clam soup, rice balls wrapped in seaweed, marinated tofu and cooked vegetable salad.
-Dinner: miso soup, sushi, seaweed salad, edamame and marinated ginger.
-Breakfast: udon noodle soup, boiled egg, shrimp and pickled vegetables
-Lunch: shiitake chamignon soup, rice cake, pan-fried scallops and steamed vegetables.
Dinner: miso soup, steamed rice, tempura vegetables and salmon or sashimi tuna
The traditional Japanese diet combines simple soups, steamed rice or noodles, fish, seafood, tofu, natto and a variety of little processed side dishes.
The healthy Japanese diet focuses on whole, minimally processed, nutrient-rich and seasonal foods. It is very rich in seafood, vegetables and fruits and limits meat, dairy products and snacks.
The Japanese diet can improve digestion and help with weight loss, help with longevity and protect against certain diseases.