The Japanese people have some of the longest life expectancies in the world, and it might have a lot to do with the traditional Japanese diet! In 2012 the World Health Organisation listed Japan has having the longest life expectancy in the world for men, and the second highest for women, living to an average ripe old age of 84.6 years. It's not really surprising, with all that fresh fish, low intake of red meats, plenty of vegetables, and small portion sizes, the Japanese eat mindfully and seasonally.
Ok, so we're not sure how the boom in the Japanese sweets and snacks industry and the invention of delicious instant ramen is going to affect the youth of Japan, but there's certainly a lot to be learned from the traditional Japanese diet.
Let's take a quick look at 5 of the most healthy Japanese foods, drinks and dishes that you should be eating in 2015!
We could really go on and on about the health benefits of miso soup, but that aside, miso soup is incredibly delicious too! You might want to start your new year with some miso, as it's really good at fighting hangovers. It's full of amino acids, it's mostly water; which is good for hydration and makes it extra low calorie, and there are plenty of great vitamins and minerals in it too! Not only that, but miso is made from fermented soy beans, and fermented foods are a fantastic source of healthy good bacterias.
Matcha Green Tea
Matcha green tea powder has all the benefits of green tea, but enhanced! Since matcha powder is a ground up version of the whole tea leaf, you're getting all the goodness and not wasting a bit. Matcha is absolutely bursting with antioxidants too, with about 6 times the amount you'd find in an equivalent quantity of goji berries. Others speculate that Matcha tea can help fight cancers, is good for anti-aging, lowers bad cholesterol and even aids weight loss.
According to a survey of Japanese housewives recently, their number one favourite dish to cook for their families was vegetables simmered in broth, which is known to some as a sort of Japanese hotpot! Forgo the meat one night a week and opt for a warming, delicious dish with a huge variety of veggies; lotus root, peppers, mushrooms, bamboo shoots, spinach and eggplant. The variety of vegetables will help you get your 5-a-day and enhance your vitamin intake. Embellish with nori and wakame for a kick of green goodness and iron too!
Fish like tuna, mackerel and salmon are all popular in Japan, especially as sushi or sashimi - and they're incredibly good for you. Fish is an excellent alternative to meat, and these fish in particular are full of heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids. They're also a great way to add protein to your diet without adding saturated fats.
Red meat is less popular in the Japanese diet, and it's quite high in saturated fats and can be hard for the body to digest effectively compared to alternatives like fish and tofu. Tofu is a very healthy source of protein, and it's incredibly delicious if you marinade it in soy, ginger, chili and garlic, or add it to miso soup! Tofu also contains a lot of iron and calcium, and many of the essential amino acids we need.