Japanese people are well known all over the world as having one of the longest life spans, and scientists have found that this is mainly due to their diet and disciplined lifestyle. The Japanese diet is extremely healthy in that it is low in fat, low in sugar, low in calories and high in essential vitamins and proteins. Japanese cooking does not use much oil and is therefore good for the heart.
Additionally, the Japanese consume a lot of fermented products which encourage good gut bacteria, thereby boosting the body’s natural defenses against diseases like cancer, liver failure and infections. For those who are unfamiliar with Japanese foods that are both delicious and healthy, here are some of them:
Green tea has been drunk extensively in Japan throughout history, whereby even Buddhist monks have used them to stay alert during longs hours of prayer and meditation. Green tea is also an integral part of the Japanese tea party, an elegant gathering steeped in symbolic Zen traditions.Green tea is so widespread in Japan that you can easily fins all sorts of snacks in green tea or matcha flavour including cakes, chocolates, puddings, ice creams and even noodles.
Tip: We recommend drinking green tea freshly brewed from its leaves or powder, as this form contains the most anti oxidant properties which prevent cancer and scavenge for free radicals.
Natto is a fermented soybean dish that is very slimy and has a rather pungent smell. However, if you can get past its unique texture and odour, it is one of the best source of the probiotic bacteria Bacillus subtilis which will improve gut health almost immediately after consumption.
Natto is also rich in vitamins and minerals like calcium. It prevents heart diseases as well and is good for post menopausal women to reduce bone density loss. Other benefits include enhancing liver function and ensuring smooth urine production, thereby removing toxins from the body.
Tip: Check out our Sushi guide for beginners: Top 3 must-try Japanese restaurants.
Pickled vegetables of various types are called ‘Tsukemono’ in Japanese. They are produced by soaking vegetables in salt or brine. This results in a layer of exopolysaccharides forming over the vegetables, which has been found to boost immunity and protect its consumer from the influenza virus. This is because exopolysaccharides function as prebiotics for the body’s own healthy bacteria to thrive.
Tsukemono is often eaten as side dish to rice or as a palate cleanser in between courses.