Living a Healthy Life – 3 Food Lessons from Japan Healthy Lifestyles

Keys to a Long Life & Healthy Lifestyles

Living a Healthy Life - 3 Food Lessons from JapanIn Japan, people tend to live long, healthy lives. Cultural values certainly play a role – the Japanese emphasis on healthy lifestyles, moderation extends to meal times, where the widely followed cultural maxim instructs you to stop eating when you feel 80% full. But the food itself plays an even bigger part to living a healthy life: the Japanese diet is incredibly rich in seafood and vegetables prepared in ways that make for healthy eating.

But, you don’t have to be a Japanese-style cook to take advantage of the key ingredients that make Japanese food healthy for seniors, or to prepare delicious recipes like the three included here.

Perhaps the simplest way to evaluate the healthiness of a given culture’s diet is to measure the life expectancy of people in that culture. Think about it: If diet and exercise are the two most important factors in lengthening lifespan  and they are  then it stands to reason that we can identify healthy lifestyles diets by finding people who live unusually long lives and taking a look at what and how they eat.

Indeed, Japan is home to the world’s highest proportion of people who live 100+ years (when the oldest living man on earth, who resided near Kyoto, passed away in 2013 at 116, his title went to a 115-year-old man who lives in Osaka). Which brings us to the question: How do they do healthy lifestyles?

An Ocean of Options for Living a Healthy Life

living a healthy lifeThe Japanese diet offers seniors a path to nutritional health in two ways: by what it includes and what it leaves out. As for what it leaves out, red meat is rarely eaten, dairy is almost nonexistent, and diners aren’t served large portions  instead of getting one giant plate of food set before you, portions are served in a series of small plates and bowls, which means taking more time and care with your food and, as a result, eating less. As for what the Japanese living a healthy life diet includes, let’s take a look at the foods that are daily staples:

  1. Fish: Lots of it, especially fatty fish like tuna, mackerel and salmon, which are a tremendous source of the omega-3 fatty acids that have been demonstrated to play an important part in promoting heart and brain health. Also other seafoods, like squid and octopus.
  2. Vegetables: Most often served lightly steamed, stir-fried or simmered in a seasoned broth, veggies are frequently served at all meals of the day and have a high variety, including green beans, eggplant, tomatoes, carrots, spinach, bamboo sheets, mushrooms, seaweed, sweet potatoes, bell peppers, onions, lotus root and much more.
  3. Soy: Foods like tofu and edamame offer a great source of protein, which in turn cuts down on the need for red meat.
  4. Fruits: When dessert is served, instead of a pie or a plate of cookies, it will frequently be an attractive arrangement of sliced fruits.
  5. Rice: White rice is far and away the most commonly served form of rice in Japan, and while it does offer a low-calorie way to fill you up, we recommend using brown rice, which is high in the fiber that so many American diets lack.
  6. Tea: A cup of green tea marks the end of many Japanese meals and helps for healthy lifestyles.

Bento-box-resized, living a healthy life healthy lifestylesWhile Japanese-style food may seem intimidating to prepare  so many people think first of sushi, which can look like it requires years of training to make right  the truth is that much of it is fairly simple. If you love soup, then an almost limitless variety of broth-based soup recipes await you. If you hate the idea of giving up red meat, then learning to prepare beef in a Japanese dish will allow you to get your red-meat fix while effectively moderating the amount you eat.

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