Why is the Japanese diet so healthy?

Why is the Japanese diet so healthy?

Is a diet of fish, veg and fermented food responsible for Japan’s impressive health and longevity stats? Discover the benefits of traditional Japanese food.

Why is the Japanese diet so healthy?

The Japanese have long been revered and studied for their long life expectancy, which is higher than almost anywhere else in the world. So why is the Japanese diet so healthy, and what do they eat?

What are the benefits of the traditional Japanese diet?

The traditional Japanese diet is largely fresh and unprocessed, with very little refined foods or sugar.

A recent study by the British Medical Journal found that those who stuck to closer to the Japanese dietary guidelines – a diet high in grains and vegetables, with moderate amounts of animal products and soy but minimal dairy and fruit – had a reduced risk of dying early and from heart disease or stroke. As their diet is traditionally high in soy and fish this may also play a significant role in this reduced risk of cardiovascular disease. The Japanese also have the lowest rates of obesity amongst men and women as well as long life expectancy.

Okinawa, in southernmost Japan, has the highest number of centenarians in the world as well as the lowest risk of age-related diseases (for example diabetes, cancer, arthritis and Alzheimer’s). This has partly been attributed to their traditional Japanese diet, which is low in calories and saturated fat yet high in nutrients, especially phytonutrients such as antioxidants and flavonoids, found in different coloured vegetables. This also includes phytoestrogens, or plant-based oestrogens, that may help protect against hormone-dependent cancers, such as breast cancer.

 

What is the traditional Japanese diet?

The Japanese diet isn’t that dissimilar to a traditional Chinese diet, with rice, cooked and pickled vegetables, fish and meat being staple choices. However, because Japan is actually a group of islands (all 6,582 of them), its residents consume a lot more fish compared to other Asian countries. They also eat raw fish in sushi and sahimi, plus a lot of pickled, fermented and smoked foods.

Soy beans, usually in the form of tofu or fresh edamame, are another key part of the Japanese diet, along with other beans such as aduki. Increasingly, fermented foods are being shown to support a healthy digestive system. Fermented soy bean products such as miso and natto are staples of the Japanese diet. Natto is traditionally consumed at breakfast and has a probiotic action that has been shown to help reduce IBS and may help blood clotting.

The Japanese also consume a wide variety of vegetables, both land and sea vegetables such as seaweed, which is packed full of health-boosting minerals, and may help to reduce blood pressure. Fruit is often consumed with breakfast or as a dessert, especially Fuji apples, tangerines and persimmons.

Alongside their diet, the Japanese are big fans of green tea and in particular matcha tea, which is fast gaining popularity in the UK. Matcha, a stone-ground powdered green tea, is most valued for its high antioxidant compounds known as catechins, which have been linked to fighting cancer, viruses and heart disease.

Which healthy eating behaviours are part of traditional Japanese culture?

The Japanese tend to have a healthy attitude to food and eating. They have a traditional saying, “hara hachi bu”, which means to eat until you are 80% full, and they start teaching it to their children from a young age.

The way the Japanese serve their food is also key. Rather than having one large plate, they often eat from a small bowl and several different dishes, usually a bowl of rice, a bowl of miso, some fish or meat and then two or three vegetables dishes, often served communally and eaten in rotation. The Japanese are also strong believers of ‘flexible restraint’ when it comes to treats and snacks, enjoying them from time to time but in smaller portions.

Source : bbcgoodfood.com/howto/guide/why-japanese-diet-so-healthy

8 Amazing Health Benefits of Apples 

May is here and with it, the start of the harvest season of one of our favourite superfoods (and superfruits!) the apple.

It’s no surprise that apples are good for you — why else would they have earned that “keep the doctor away” reputation? — but there are a number of lesser-known reasons to pick up a juicy one today.

Some of our favorite health benefits of apples are in the slideshow below. Let us know what else you love about apples in the comments!

Apples Lower Cholesterol

One medium-sized apple contains about four grams of fibre. Some of that is in the form of pectin, a type of soluble fiber that has been linked to lower levels of LDL or ” bad” cholesterol . That’s because it block absorption of cholesterol, according to WebMD, helping the body to use it rather than store it.

Apples Keep You Full

Apple’s wealth of fiber can also keep you feeling full for longer without costing you a lot of calories — there are about 95 in a medium-sized piece of fruit. That’s because it takes our bodies longer to digest complex fiber than more simple materials like sugar or refined grains. Anything with at least three grams of fiber is a good source of the nutrient; most people should aim to get about 25 to 40 grams a day.

Apples Keep You Slim

One component of an apple’s peel (which also has most of the fiber) is something called ursolic acid, which was linked to a lower risk of obesity in a recent study in mice. That’s because it boosts calorie burn and increases muscle and brown fat, HuffPost UK reported.

Apples Prevent Breathing Problems

Five or more apples a week (less than an apple a day!) has been linked with better lung function, Health magazine reported, most likely because of an antioxidant called querceten found in the skin of apples (as well as in onions and tomatoes), the BBC reported. 

And the breath benefits of apples extend even further: A 2007 study found that women who eat plenty of the fruit are less likely to have children with asthma.

Apples Help Boost The Immune System

While they don’t quite rival oranges, applesare considered a good source of immune system-boosting vitamin C, with over 8 milligrams per medium-sized fruit, which amounts to roughly 14 percent of your daily recommended intake.

Apples May Fight Cancer

In 2004, French research found that a chemical in apples helped prevent colon cancer, WebMD reported. And in 2007, a study from Cornell found additional compounds, called triterpenoids, which seem to fight against liver, colon and breast cancers.

Apples Decrease Diabetes Risk

A 2012 study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that apples, as well as pears and blueberries, were linked with a lower risk of developing type 2 diabetes because of a class of antioxidants, anthocyanins, that are also responsible for red, purple and blue colors in fruits and veggies.

Apples Boost Brain Power

The fruit has been linked to an uptick in acetylcholine production, Good Housekeeping reported, which communicates between nerve cells, so apples may help your memory and lower your chances of developing Alzheimer’s. 

A diet rich in antioxidants may have similar effects, so apples, since they are particularly rich in querceten , are a good bet, according to 2004 research.

Photo Credit : Shutterstock

EIGHT HEALTHY EATING GOALS 

Fitness Foods

It’s easier than you think to start eating healthy! Take small steps each week to improve your nutrition and move toward a healthier you.

EIGHT HEALTHY EATING GOALS

Small changes can make a big difference to your health. Try incorporating at least six of the eight goals below into your diet. Commit to incorporating one new healthy eating goal each week over the next six weeks. You can track your progress through PALA+ .

Make half your plate fruits and vegetables:

Choose red, orange, and dark-green vegetables like tomatoes, sweet potatoes, and broccoli, along with other vegetables for your meals. Add fruit to meals as part of main or side dishes or as dessert. The more colorful you make your plate, the more likely you are to get the vitamins, minerals, and fiber your body needs to be healthy.

Make half the grains you eat whole grains:
An easy way to eat more whole grains is to switch from a refined-grain food to a whole-grain food. For example, eat whole-wheat bread instead of white bread. Read the ingredients list and choose products that list a whole-grain ingredients first. Look for things like: “whole wheat,” “brown rice,” “bulgur,” “buckwheat,” “oatmeal,” “rolled oats,” quinoa,” or “wild rice.”

Switch to fat-free or low-fat (1%) milk:
Both have the same amount of calcium and other essential nutrients as whole milk, but fewer calories and less saturated fat.
Choose a variety of lean protein foods: Meat, poultry, seafood, dry beans or peas, eggs, nuts, and seeds are considered part of the protein foods group. Select leaner cuts of ground beef (where the label says 90% lean or higher), turkey breast, or chicken breast.

Use the Nutrition Facts label to choose lower sodium versions of foods like soup, bread, and frozen meals. Select canned foods labeled “low sodium,” “reduced sodium,” or “no salt added.”

Drink water instead of sugary drinks: 
Cut calories by drinking water or unsweetened beverages. Soda, energy drinks, and sports drinks are a major source of added sugar and calories in American diets. Try adding a slice of lemon, lime, or watermelon or a splash of 100% juice to your glass of water if you want some flavor.

Eat some seafood:
Seafood includes fish (such as salmon, tuna, and trout) and shellfish (such as crab, mussels, and oysters). Seafood has protein, minerals, and omega-3 fatty acids (heart-healthy fat). Adults should try to eat at least eight ounces a week of a variety of seafood. Children can eat smaller amounts of seafood, too.

Cut back on solid fats: 
Eat fewer foods that contain solid fats. The major sources for Americans are cakes, cookies, and other desserts (often made with butter, margarine, or shortening); pizza; processed and fatty meats (e.g., sausages, hot dogs, bacon, ribs); and ice cream.
Use the MyPlate Icon to make sure your meal is balanced and nutritious.

TRY THIS!
Emphasis on Fruits & Veggies
Mix vegetables into your go-to dishes. Try spinach with pasta or peppers in tacos.
Use fresh, frozen, and canned fruits and vegetables. They all offer the same great nutrients. Just be sure to watch the sodium on canned vegetables and look for fruits packed in water or 100% juice (not syrup).
Pack your child’s lunch bag with fruits and veggies: sliced apples, a banana, or carrot sticks are all healthy options.

Healthy Snacks
For a handy snack, keep cut-up fruits and vegetables like carrots, peppers, or orange slices in the refrigerator.
Teach children the difference between everyday snacks, such as fruits and veggies, and occasional snacks, such as cookies or other sweets.
Make water a staple of snack time. Try adding a slice of lemon, lime, or a splash of 100% juice to your water for a little flavor.
Swap out your cookie jar for a basket filled with fresh fruit.
Ways to Reduce Fat, Salt, and Sugar
Choose baked or grilled food instead of fried when you’re eating out and implement this at home, too.

Make water and fat-free or low-fat milk your go-to drinks instead of soda or sweetened beverages.
Serve fruits as everyday desserts—like baked apples and pears or a fruit salad.
Read labels on packaged ingredients to find foods lower in sodium.

Skip adding salt when cooking; instead use herbs and spices to add flavor.
Controlling Portion Size
Use smaller plates to control portion sizes.
Don’t clean your plate or bowl if you’re full, instead save leftovers for tomorrow’s lunch.
Portion sizes depend on the age, gender, and activity level of the individual.

Healthy Eating in School
Bring healthy snacks into your child’s classroom for birthday parties and celebrations, instead of providing sugary treats.

Pack healthy lunches for your children including whole grains, fruits and vegetables, and fat-free or low-fat dairy products.