It's a fact that Japanese people have a longer life expectancy than Westerners. They also have the lowest obesity rate in the developed world. This is all down to their healthy diet and lifestyle. But what are they doing differently from us?
Read on to learn how to reap the many health benefits of eating like the Japanese.
1. Eat fish – and plenty of it. Fish is a staple of the Japanese diet. They particularly favour oily fish, such as salmon, tuna and mackerel. These provide omega-3 fatty acids which offer a range of health benefits. They also tend to eat a lot less red meat than their Western counterparts. Too much red meat is associated with an increased risk of certain cancers so it's best to cut down on your consumption.
2. Cook with fresh, seasonal produce. Japanese people don't eat microwave meals and order takeaway pizza. They cook their food from scratch, with wholesome, healthy ingredients. Five or more different types of vegetables may be served in a single meal. They also enjoy tofu and other soy products which are a good source of non-animal protein, and plenty of rice, a complex carbohydrate (go for brown rather than white). Dessert is usually an assortment of seasonal fruits.
3. Drink green tea. I've already written about the many health benefits of green tea (click here to read that post). The Japanese drink it all the time – with breakfast, lunch and dinner, during the day and whenever guests arrive. You should also aim to make it a staple of your diet. Start drinking one or two cups a day and work up to about four.
4. Cut down on fat. Japanese cuisine is typically low-fat and their methods of preparing food also use little to no fat or oil. Most things are boiled or steamed – two of the healthiest ways of cooking.
5. Serve smaller portions and present them nicely in pretty little bowls and plates, not all on one big plate like you would normally do. In Japan, everyone shares their food and has a taste of everything.
6. Eat mindfully. Turn off the TV and sit around the dining table (that means not on the sofa) with the whole family. Slow down when you eat and savour every mouthful of food. Using chopsticks will force you to concentrate. You'll enjoy your food more and feel satisfied quicker because your brain will have time to register the feeling of fullness in your stomach.
Click here for some healthy Japanese recipes I've found on the web.
Are there any other countries' or cultures' eating habits you'd like to read about?