Take a closer look at the nutritional benefits of Japanese cuisine

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Talking about cuisine throughout the world, Illume cannot overlook a country that is rich in both culture and cuisine – Japan. Japan is well-known for its diverse culture and traditions, as well as its balanced and nutritious diet. Allow Illume to take you on a journey to learn more about the nutritional benefits of Japanese cuisine.

Photo by: Setsuko Yoshizuka

The traditional Japanese diet is a whole-food-based diet high in fish, seafood, and plant-based meals and low in animal protein, added sugars, and fat. It is inspired by traditional Japanese cuisine, also known as “washoku,” which consists of tiny meals made with simple, fresh, and seasonal ingredients.

This nutrient-dense eating pattern may give various health benefits, including weight loss, digestion, longevity, and general health. And since the traditional Japanese diet thrives from the traditional Japanese cuisine, this article will teach you all there is to know about the traditional Japanese diet and the nutritional benefits of Japanese cuisine.

Discover the definition of the traditional Japanese diet

The traditional Japanese diet is made up of minimally processed, seasonal ingredients presented in a variety of modest dishes. This eating pattern accentuates the natural tastes of foods rather than disguising them with sauces or spices.

The diet is high in steamed rice, noodles, fish, tofu, natto, seaweed, and fresh, cooked, or pickled fruits and vegetables, but low in added sugars and fats. It may also include eggs, dairy, or meat; however, they are generally just a minor part of the diet.

The traditional Japanese diet is similar to the Okinawan diet, which is the historical eating pattern of individuals living on the Japanese island of Okinawa, although it contains much more rice and fish. It contrasts with current Japanese cuisine, which is heavily influenced by Western and Chinese cuisine and contains more animal protein and processed foods.

The nutritional benefits of the traditional Japanese cuisine and diet

Traditional Japanese cuisine and diet go side by side with health benefits.

Nutrient-dense and high in beneficial ingredients

The traditional Japanese diet is naturally high in fiber, calcium, potassium, magnesium, iron, and vitamins A, C, and E.

Vegetables add to the nutrient content of this diet and are frequently prepared with dashi, a stock made from dried fish and sea vegetables. This decreases their bulk while increasing their flavor, making it simpler to consume large amounts.

Photo by: Kai Gourmet © 2020

The diet also includes plenty of seaweed and green tea. Both are high in antioxidants, which are components that protect your body from cellular damage and disease.

Furthermore, the diet’s numerous fish- and seaweed-based meals contain long-chain omega-3 fats, which enhance brain, eye, and heart health.

Assist in digestion improvement

Fiber, a nutrient that helps digestion, is naturally abundant in seaweed, soybeans, fruits, and vegetables.

Photo by: Chichi Wang

Insoluble fiber carries food through your digestive tract and provides bulk to your stool, lowering your chances of constipation.

These foods are also high in soluble fiber, which feeds the good bacteria in your stomach while decreasing the space available for dangerous bacteria to proliferate.

When gut bacteria consume soluble fiber, they generate short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs), which have been shown to improve inflammation and symptoms of IBS, Crohn’s disease, and ulcerative colitis.

Furthermore, the pickled fruits and vegetables that are often consumed on this diet are a good source of probiotics. These probiotic bacteria improve gut health and alleviate digestive problems such as gas, bloating, constipation, and diarrhea.

Greatly help in weight management

The traditional Japanese diet is high in vegetables, has modest serving sizes, and is naturally low in added sugar and fat. All of these elements contribute to a reduced calorie intake.

Furthermore, Japanese culture encourages eating until you are just 80% full. This technique prevents overeating and may contribute to the calorie deficit required for weight loss.

Photo by: LIVE JAPAN

Moreover, research suggests that the traditional Japanese diet‘s fiber-rich vegetables, soy products, and soups may help lower hunger and enhance fullness, encouraging weight control.

Evidence also shows that switching between dishes, as is frequent during traditional Japanese meals, may lower the total quantity of food consumed per meal.

Keep chronic diseases at bay

Traditional Japanese diet may protect against diseases such as type 2 diabetes and heart disease. It is naturally high in fish, seaweed, green tea, soy, fruits, and vegetables while being low in added sugar, fat, and animal protein – all of which are known to protect against heart disease.

In fact, despite their high salt consumption, which normally boosts heart disease risk, Japanese people have a very low risk of heart disease.

In addition, in a 6-week trial of 33 men who followed a traditional Japanese diet, 91% experienced significant decreases in type 2 diabetes risk factors, such as excess weight and high LDL (bad) cholesterol levels.

Also, the high green tea consumption advocated by this diet may protect against Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, and certain types of cancer.

Help you live longer

Japan has one of the greatest life expectancy rates in the world, which many experts attribute to the traditional Japanese cuisine.

In fact, the Japanese island of Okinawa is classified as a Blue Zone, which is a place with a very long life expectancy. Keep in mind that the Okinawa diet is high in sweet potatoes and low in rice and fish compared to the traditional Japanese diet.

In a 15-year study of over 75,000 Japanese residents, those who strictly adhered to the traditional Japanese diet had a 15% lower risk of premature death as compared to those who ate a Westernized diet.

The traditional Japanese diet‘s emphasis on whole, minimally processed foods, as well as its low added fat and sugar content, is credited with this improved longevity, according to experts.