The Japanese are one of the longest-lived and thinnest populations in the world, while in the rest of the world there is a predominance of excess weight, obesity and metabolic diseases that considerably affect the quality of life. For this reason, we show you which foods are the protagonists of the Japanese diet and how you can imitate it to be healthier and slimmer.
- Focus on fresh, whole foods
The Japanese diet emphasizes fresh, whole foods such as fish, vegetables, and whole grains. These foods are rich in nutrients and fiber, which can help promote overall health and weight loss.
- Eat more seafood
Seafood is a staple of the Japanese diet, and it’s a great source of protein and healthy fats. Fish like salmon, tuna, and mackerel are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which can help improve heart health and reduce inflammation.
- Emphasize vegetables
Vegetables are an important part of the Japanese diet and are often served in a variety of preparations such as stir-fries, soups, and salads. Vegetables are rich in fiber, vitamins, and minerals and can help promote digestive health and weight loss.
- Choose whole grains
The Japanese diet emphasizes whole grains such as brown rice, quinoa, and barley. These grains are rich in fiber and nutrients and can help promote satiety and weight loss.
- Limit processed foods
The Japanese diet is relatively low in processed foods such as sugary snacks, fast food, and packaged meals. These foods are often high in calories, sugar, and unhealthy fats, and can contribute to weight gain and other health problems.
- Practice mindful eating
The Japanese diet emphasizes mindful eating, which means paying attention to the tastes, textures, and sensations of the food you’re eating. This can help you feel more satisfied with your meals and reduce the likelihood of overeating.
The diet of the longest-lived and thinnest people
Although in many parts of Japan the diet has been westernized, if we refer to its traditional and original food, it is important to know that it is characterized by being reduced in calories and fat.
At the same time, in its most traditional form, it is a diet based on plant-based foods, a source of a minimum of fats and quality proteins derived mainly from fish.
The diet is satiating with a low caloric density and offers at the same time, a large proportion of antioxidants for the body that can reduce the damage that oxidative stress produces in every cell of the body, thus reducing the risk of disease and extending life expectancy.
It is also a diet based on fresh and natural foods, away from processed and ultra-processed foods produced by industry.
Foods typical of the Japanese diet
To learn about the traditional Japanese diet that can help us to take care of our health and extend our life expectancy, we show you which are the foods that characterize it:
- Fruits and various vegetables that are part of different dishes consumed daily, either fresh or steamed, sautéed, or as part of broths and soups.
- Fish and seafood that provide quality proteins and at the same time beneficial unsaturated fats such as omega 3.
- Algae that provide vegetable proteins as well as diverse minerals and antioxidants.
- Soy and derivatives such as tofu, edamame, tamari and others.
- Rice and derivatives such as rice noodles, which are one of the main sources of complex carbohydrates along with fruits and vegetables.
- Matcha tea which is a type of green tea that can offer phenolic compounds in high proportions and therefore have an antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effect on our body, helping among other things to raise metabolic activity.
As we can see, the Japanese diet abounds in foods of vegetable origin and their derivatives, with fish and seafood being practically the only source of protein; although eggs and meats are consumed, they are present in very small proportions and only occasionally on the daily table, as well as dairy products and their derivatives, vegetable oils, buns, cookies and other ultra-processed foods are almost not consumed.
Fish is a staple of the Japanese diet, and for good reason. It’s high in protein, omega-3 fatty acids, and other nutrients essential for good health. Try to include fish in your diet at least once or twice a week, and choose fatty fish such as salmon, mackerel, or tuna, which are particularly high in omega-3 fatty acids.
Vegetables are another important part of the Japanese diet. The Japanese eat a wide variety of vegetables, from leafy greens like spinach and kale to root vegetables like sweet potatoes and carrots. Try to include a variety of colorful vegetables in your diet and aim for at least 5 servings per day.
The Japanese diet is also rich in whole grains such as brown rice, barley, and quinoa. These grains are high in fiber, which can help improve digestion and keep you feeling full. Try replacing refined grains like white bread and pasta with whole grains to increase your nutrient intake and support weight loss.
Fermented foods such as miso, kimchi, and tempeh are a staple of the Japanese diet. These foods are rich in probiotics, which can help improve gut health and boost immunity. Try to incorporate fermented foods into your diet on a regular basis, either as a side dish or as a condiment for other foods.
Green tea is a popular drink in Japan, and for good reason. It’s high in antioxidants and other nutrients that can help improve health and support weight loss. Try swapping out sugary drinks like soda and juice for green tea to boost your nutrient intake and stay hydrated throughout the day.
How to get closer to the Japanese diet to live longer and better
Imitating the Japanese diet may not be easy, however we can approach this diet by putting into practice the following tips that will help us to improve the quality of what we eat and similarly to the Japanese, get antioxidant compounds and beneficial nutrients to live longer and better:
- Consume fruits and vegetables every day, making them present in each of the dishes, avoiding fried foods and trying to incorporate them not only fresh but also steamed, sautéed and with other cooking methods that encourage their consumption.
- Change meats for fish or seafood to obtain quality proteins and add beneficial fats while subtracting saturated fats and cholesterol.
- Ingest green tea regularly as an infusion and it can be the perfect replacement for coffee to obtain polyphenols in high proportions and give a boost to our metabolism.
- Choose fresh, natural or minimally processed foods for our dishes, trying to avoid processed or ultra-processed foods.
- Include legumes and derivatives in the regular table to get more fiber and vegetable proteins that will satiate with quality nutrients.
- Add dishes with high water content to our usual menu such as soups or other broth recipes that will satiate us without many calories but with valuable nutrients such as vitamins and various minerals for the body.
- Incorporate seaweed if we wish, which can be dried or dehydrated or fresh, as vegetables to incorporate proteins, lots of fiber and nutrients such as calcium, iron, potassium and others.
With the advice given above we can approach the Japanese diet to be healthier and slimmer, trying to incorporate nutrients that characterize it and foods that the Japanese consume every day.