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Japanese cuisine has long been renowned as being one of the healthiest diets in the world. Japan has one of the longest life expectancies in the world, as well as having a lower risk for many illnesses, and their diet has long been attributed to this. Here are some of the key aspects of Japanese cuisine and the health benefits they can offer.
What Are the Key Health Benefits of Japanese Cuisine?
Japanese people have also been found to have a lower risk for illnesses such as heart disease, cancer, diabetes and Alzheimer’s, as well as having the lowest rate of obesity. How is the diet thought to affect this?
Reduced Cancer Risk
Compared with other countries, Japan has a very low risk for certain types of cancer, particularly hormone-related cancers, such as breast cancer. This is believed to be due to the high levels of vegetables, healthy fats and high-fibre dishes eaten in Japan.
Lower Risk of Heart Problems
Japan has one of the lowest rates of heart problems in the world, and this is thought to be connected to the fact that many Japanese dishes are filled with ingredients that promote a healthy heart. At the same time, the Japanese diet is free from a lot of ingredients that are bad for the heart, like saturated fats, sugar and processed foods. Soy is one of the most commonly used ingredients in Japanese cuisine and is known to regulate blood pressure and reduce the risk of heart attack.
Full of Protein
Japanese cuisine sees protein as one of the most important aspects of a diet. Typically, Japanese dishes will be packed full of protein, with fish, chicken, and tofu being commonly used ingredients. Protein is greatly beneficial to the body, helping to build strength and providing you with iron.
What Food is Included in a Traditional Japanese Diet?
The Japanese diet includes a lot of fresh, unprocessed foods, and is low in dairy and sugar. As a nation of islands, seafood is a key feature of Japanese cuisine, with rice, soybeans and vegetables being staples too.
Sushi and sashimi are two of the best-known dishes enjoyed in Japan. Seafood is a staple in Japan, and fresh, raw fish is commonly used in sushi and sashimi dishes. Fish is also used in a wide range of dishes, served with rice, in broth, or grilled. Fish offers a range of health benefits, largely due to the omega-3 fatty acids it contains. Such benefits include helping the heart, lowering blood fat levels, easing joint pain and protecting against dementia.
Another ingredient originating from the sea, seaweed is commonly eaten in Japan, as part of sushi rolls, in salads and in soups. Seaweed is a superfood ingredient, offering a huge range of health benefits. Like fish, seaweed contains omega-3, so can offer similar benefits as fish. Seaweed also provides the body with vital nutrients in the form of vitamins and minerals, including B12, iron and calcium. It also contains iodine, which is essential for maintaining a healthy thyroid. A high fibre ingredient, seaweed is great for the gut too, and can even help with weight loss!
Miso is a paste made from fermented soybeans, and is added to a wide range of dishes, particularly broths and soups. Miso, and the soybeans they are made from, is a great source of protein, while also offering nutrients such as calcium, iron, magnesium and B vitamins. Miso paste has more health benefits than other soybean products, as the fermentation process adds probiotic bacteria, which help the body absorb nutrients, aid digestion and strengthen the immune system. Miso is also believed to promote heart health by lowering cholesterol and reducing blood pressure.
A traditional Japanese beverage, green tea has become popular worldwide based on the assortment of health benefits it offers those who drink it. Much of these benefits are due to the antioxidants this tea is packed full of. Antioxidants are known to help clear skin, protect the heart and reduce the risk of cancer. Green tea is also known for boosting brain function and memory, as well as improving metabolism, which in turn helps to burn fat quicker.