The World Health Organizations estimates that the average life expectancy for Japanese women is 87 years which is the longest life expectancy compared to 82 years for American women. The life expectancy for Japanese men is 80 years compared to American men which is 77.

Japan has a low obesity rate. It is estimated that  3% of Japanese women were obese compared to 40% of women in the United States.

Japanese dietHow does a Japanese diet differ from a western diet?

I recently traveled to Japan I noticed a few things that are different from a western diet.

  • Portions are smaller.
  • The Japanese ate a lot of vegetables, fish and non red meats such as chicken and pork.
  • Favorite fish include salmon, tuna, mackerel, sardines, and herring.
  • Breakfast consisted of  Miso soup, fish and salads.
  • Rice was also served at breakfast and eaten in small amounts. Rice is a complex carbohydrate which can help you feel full.
  • Some days a thick rice broth or porridge known as okayu was served in lieu of miso soup.
  • The vegetables were lightly steamed.
  • The food was garnished with healthy choices such as  dried fish and pickled vegetables, which added more flavor as well as vitamins and minerals.

It is estimated that the Japanese eat 25% fewer calories than an American each day.

What are the health Benefits of seaweed?

  • Seaweed or sea vegetables are eaten in fair amounts which is not typical in a western diet.
  • Seaweed is rich in iodine, iron and calcium.
  • Seaweed is high in fiber, protein and omega-3.
  • There are different types of sea vegetables including brown, red and green.

Brown seaweed

  • Brown seaweed contains compounds such as carotenoid and polyphenols.  

What is a polyphenol?

  • A polyphenol is a plant compound that has antioxidant properties.

What is carotenoid?

  • Carotenoids are antioxidants that are found in plants, algae, and bacteria.

Brown seaweed information and health benefits

  • Brown seaweed contains antioxidants which may help reduce the risk of cancer. 
  • Brown seaweed may also reduce estrogen levels which can help lower the risk of breast cancer.
  • Brown seaweed may decrease absorption of lipids such as triglycerides which may lower risk of cardiovascular disease and blood sugar levels.
  • Risk of obesity may also be lowered as compounds found in the seaweed such as fucoxanthin may help decrease calorie intake.
  • Examples of brown seaweed includes kombu, wakame and arame.
  • Brown seaweed is high in iodine.
  • Eating seaweed may act as a probiotic and change the gut flora to help promote better gut health.

Welpac Dashi Kombu Dried Seaweed 4 oz

What is a probiotic?

Probiotics are live bacteria and yeasts that are good for your health.

Red seaweed

  • Red seaweed includes dulse and nori.
  • Nori is dried and used to make sushi.
  • Red seaweed is high in  vitamins A and C

Jayone Seaweed, Roasted and Lightly Salted, 24 CountJapanese diets are rich in soy

Edamame beans and tofu are common in a Japanese diet

What are the health benefits of soy?

    • Natural soy products like tofu and edamame beans are a great protein.
    • Say contains isoflavones which acts as an antioxidant and has estrogen like properties. Soy is thought to help peri-menopausal symptoms such as hot flashes.
    • There may be a decreased risk of breast and endometrial cancer.

Mori-Nu Silken Tofu, Extra Firm, 12.3 Ounce (Pack of 12)

Green tea is very popular in Japan. It is served hot or cold depending on the season and the drinker’s preference.

What are the Health benefits of green tea?

  • Green Tea contains anti-oxidants including polyphenols such as flavonoids and catechins which function as powerful antioxidants.
  • Green tea may reduce the risk of developing diabetes and cardiovascular disease.
  • Green tea may help reduce skin inflammation which can help with dermatitis and dandruff.

Japanese dietBigelow Green Tea, 40-Count Boxes (Pack of 6)
Desserts include more colorful fruits and less cakes.

Things to consider

  • Consider using low sodium soy sauce. 
  • Consider brown rice over white rice.
  • Seaweed may be farmed from polluted waters, try to look for organic variations.

What do you think of a Japanese diet?

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