Japan’s oldest population may possess surmountable experiences and life lessons, but they also have one attribute that many people aspire to achieve.
It’s an attribute that has fascinated people throughout the world: Longevity.
Some places within Japan, like the island of Okinawa, are known to contain the highest concentration of centenarians.
So, what is Japan’s secret for being among the countries with the highest life expectancy?
Well, their diet may offer some clues.
The Eating Habits of Japanese Centenarians
Japanese women have the country’s longest life expectancy, and researchers believe its due to their close adherence to established dietary guidelines.
They also found that these women work in one industry, drink green tea often, and have a higher dietary energy intake.
Japan’s unique dietary guidelines contribute to the population’s long-life expectancy.
The guidelines, intended for the general population, promote and improve eating habits.
The country’s Ministry of Education, Science and Culture; the Ministry of Health and Welfare, and the Ministry of Agriculture Forestry and Fisheries developed the food and nutrition instructions.
The guide includes a spinning top, a rotating inverted cone, to emphasize essential food groups and their recommended servings.
These groups include grain-based dishes, vegetable-based dishes, fish, eggs, meat, milk, and fruit.
The Japanese diet includes a variety of foods within a given day and nearly 20 different foods within a week.
The diet exposes individuals to not only an abundance of nutrients but also a variety of them.
Many Japanese eaters will take their time ingesting their food.
They allow the food to linger in their mouth, so they can revel in the different flavors and textures as they chew.
Doing this helps to prevent overeating.
Those individuals who observe traditional dietary traditions don’t eat until they are full.
Instead, they eat until they reach 80 percent satiation.
Small plates and bowls help reduce their food intake because their dishes encourage them to reduce their portion sizes.
Foods Consumed by Japanese Centenarians
A healthy diet plays a significant role in longevity.
While the Japanese consume a variety of foods, a few essential staples are often apart of their daily diet.
The following are ten primary foods found in the diets of Japanese centenarians.
Edamame is a plant-based food that the Japanese consume as a snack.
It contains soft, young soybeans encased in pods. Soybeans are full of protein.
They provide all essential amino acids that the body needs.
When processed, soybeans take the form of miso, tofu, soy sauce, and other foods.
They are known to help lower total cholesterol, low-density lipoproteins, and triglycerides.
Soybeans are also a good source of dietary fiber and potassium, folate, and manganese.
They may also help reduce menopausal symptoms, like hot flashes.
Miso is a food seasoning consisting of fermented soybeans and mold, known as koji, as well as some rice, barley, seaweed, and other foods like chickpeas and grains.
These smashed ingredients create a protein-rich paste.
Japanese diets will include a couple of tablespoons of miso in soups.
Miso soup can help activate digestion since it contains several beneficial bacteria.
These millions of bacteria also support a healthy gut and a healthy gut influences mental and physical wellness.
Miso is also a good source of vitamins B, E, and K, as well as folic acid and manganese.
Tofu is made from soy milk concentrate compressed into solidified blocks.
It contains a coagulant, which is often nigari. Nigari is seawater extract.
It gives tofu its shape and texture. Traditional Asian soups and stews often include tofu.
It can be prepared or cooked in a variety of ways, like pan-frying or baking.
Besides being rich in proteins, it’s also dense in minerals, such as iron, copper, magnesium, manganese, and phosphorus.
Tofu helps prevent chronic diseases, like diabetes, and it can help lower bad cholesterol.
Seaweed consists of red, green, or brown algae.
The Japanese include it in miso soup, sushi rolls, stews, and salads.
Seaweed is rich in vitamins and minerals, such as copper, magnesium, manganese, vitamin B2 and C, and vanadium.
It also contains protein and fiber.
Its reported benefits include supporting thyroid function, promoting gut health, and providing protective antioxidants, which can help protect against some chronic diseases.
Japanese sweet potatoes are known as colorful, firm, sweet yams.
Japanese will often boil, steam, bake, and mash them.
However, they are much sweeter than American potatoes, so many meals include them as a dessert.
The potatoes are rich in potassium, iron, copper, vitamins A and B12, and proteins.
They are also full of antioxidants.
The nutrients within these potatoes can help reduce disease, control glucose, and lower blood pressure.
Japanese centenarians usually consume turmeric tea daily.
Turmeric is also known as curcumin, and it’s related to ginger.
It contains many medicinal properties. Turmeric helps reduce inflammation.
According to the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health, it helps with arthritis, stomach, skin, and liver problems.
It also includes antioxidant properties that support cardiovascular health.
Shiitake mushrooms show up in soy-based braises, stews, and stir-fries as a result of its firm and chewy texture, which is similar to meat, and its smoky flavor.
The mushrooms are a great source of copper, zinc, and selenium.
The mushrooms are also an anti-inflammatory agent and can help decrease the risk of some cancers, cardiovascular diseases, and immune system issues.
Ginger often comes in the form of tea in Japan.
The Japanese often serve pickled ginger with sushi or sashimi to enhance flavors.
It presents many anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties.
It helps to settle an upset stomach, nausea, and motion sickness.
It also supports the immune system, and it is effective at battling the common cold.
It can help reduce exercise-induced muscle soreness and pain and osteoarthritis.
Ginger may also possess powerful anti-diabetic properties.
The Japanese include carrots in their Japanese curry and Japanese hot pot dishes.
Carrots are a great source of lutein, fiber, potassium, and antioxidants like vitamin C and beta carotene.
Studies indicate that some of its flavonoids contribute to its antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and antimicrobial properties.
Carrots can help strengthen eyesight and the immune system and may lower the risk of cancers and heart disease.
Brown rice is a whole grain that many centenarians eat daily.
Okinawans will soak the rice in water until it begins to bud.
The rice becomes more water-absorbent, and it unlocks enzymes that help make the rice softer and more flavorful.
Experts suggest the germinated rice can improve brain function and blood lipid levels.
The rice is rich in vitamin B and dietary fiber as well as an amino acid that works as a neurotransmitter and promotes blood flow in the brain.