Here are six things you can change in your diet and increase your own life expectancy (and get healthier, too!).
1. Eat more fish
Most people assume that rice is the most common staple in Japanese cuisine. In fact, fish is featured much more prominently. So much so that the average Japanese person consumes more than 154 pounds annually - or about a half pound a day! The Japanese are so fish-mad that they collectively consume 12% of the world’s fish, but account for only 2% of the global population. The health benefits from eating fish isn’t news to most of us. Fresh, cured, smoked, or salted, fish are loaded with vitamin A and omega-3 fatty acids that help to protect against various types of cancer.
2. Different types of protein
While we’re on the subject of meat, we tend to forget that it’s not the only source of protein out there. While modern Japanese people have started to incorporate more beef into their diets, traditional diets still focus on plant-based proteins, particularly tofu, which is low in saturated fat and rich in calcium.
3. Eat your greens
Mum was right, vegetables are great for you. Japanese people know it, but unfortunately here in Scotland we persist on eating deep fried vegetables, or else boil them to mush, which causes them to lose their nutrients. The Japanese eat about five times the amount of vegetables than we do, things like kale, broccoli, cabbage, cress, and seaweed. Not surprisingly, these vegetables have been shown to be among the best at warding off some types of cancer, such as colon cancer, lung cancer and prostate cancer. And while loads of us have horrible memories of overcooked cabbage and brussels sprouts, remember that it is actually possible to cook these vegetables properly to make them taste really good! Try steaming or stir-frying them quickly, or roast root vegetables in the oven with a bit of olive oil, salt, pepper, and herbs.
4. Supplement your meal with rice
Did you know the Japanese eat six times the amount of rice than we do? So why is that significant? Rice is very useful because it’s low in fat and high in carbs. It’s a mealtime supplement that helps fill you up with very few calories. And if plain white rice doesn’t take your fancy, substitute it for brown rice, which is made from whole grains and is loaded with good-for-you fibre.
5. Finish your meal with green tea
More than most, the Japanese love their green tea. Although some types of green tea have more caffeine than some black teas, the drink is loaded with all sorts of powerful antioxidants that help lower cholesterol and blood pressure. Drinking green tea has also been linked to lower incidences of stroke and heart disease.
6. Healthy desserts
It’s not always necessary to end a meal with dessert, but if you like to, think like the Japanese. The idea here is to avoid heading straight for the chocolate cake or ice cream, but rather to opt for a nice selection of seasonal fruits or sweetened bean paste.
For more ideas on delicious and healthy Japanese diets, pop into Wudon soon!
(I’ll not mention the ice-cream and cocktails!)