Japan is famous for three things: the US using nuclear missiles on it, ramen, and beautiful women who appear to stay young and slim forever.
The Japanese culture and traditions, its cuisine and lifestyle are all a factor in the appearance of its inhabitants looks and longevity. Japan has the highest percentage of people older than 100 on the planet, and it is believed that the food is a significant factor in this, but which food specifically?
- Green tea
Matcha green tea is commonly consumed in Japan. It’s made of high quality leaves, which are then dried and ground into a powder. You prepare it as any other tea, but the difference between the west and Japan is the consumption of this tea. Japanese consume it in a tea ceremony, which takes hours, and is used to reduce stress. Green tea is known for its ability to reduce heart disease and cancer chances. It also delays the aging process due to its antioxidant properties.
Japan is an island, so it’s logical that the ocean is the main source of food. Fish is rich in Omega 3 fats which help your skin stay young and smooth, as well as melanoma free. Japanese believe that the food you eat directly affects your health, so they eat top quality seafood, and in as many variants as you can imagine; raw, grilled, fried, poaches, baked, etc.
- Fermented foods
Traditional Japanese fermented foods include miso, tempeh, kimchi, kombucha, and kefir. All of them are, in some way, a superfood.
Fermentation process keeps all of the nutrients in the food, and even enriches it with additional nutrients, such as Omega 3 fats, vitamin B, probiotics, etc. This makes fermented foods not only tastier, but also easier to digest, and more beneficial to the body.
- Smaller portions
Japan traditionally serves small portions. If you think about sushi, one portion is basically just a few bites. This leads to reduced calorie intake, compared to us westerners, without sacrificing any of the nutrients, or staying hungry.
Some basic Japanese cooking guidelines are: no big portions, don’t crowd the plate, fresh is best, presentation and garnish are important.
- Traditional healthy activities
Believe it or not, the most common method of transport in Japan is on foot. Millions of men and women in Tokyo take their daily commute on foot, and therefore they provide many benefits to themselves and others. First of all, they contribute to reducing traffic jams and CO2 emission. Secondly, they improve their own health by walking, which is proven to reduce stress, boosts energy, and helps your cardiovascular system.
Another healthy habit that most of Japan shares is that they tend to avoid eating on the go. Meal times in Japan are rituals, and they can take a lot of time. Therefore, the food they consume can be processed slower and more efficiently.
Physical activity, apart from walking, is also encouraged in Japan. Karate, judo, aikido, and other martial arts, are a daily routine of millions of Japanese people.
- Healthy desserts
Desserts are not a common thing in Japan, as they are in the west. Japanese people tend to avoid sweets, and after a meal they’ll either have no dessert or they might have a piece of fruit. Those crazy flavored kit-kats that you see on TV and YouTube are mostly bought and consumed by foreigners.