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Is Japanese cuisine truly healthy?
What comes to mind when you think about Japanese food? Sushi, miso soup, ramen etc… Nowadays you can find more Japanese foods in western towns and cities. To some people they are just for fun, to others they are a fashion statement, but to most people…THEY ARE FOR THEIR HEALTH.
Is it true that Japanese food is healthy? This is a difficult question, but I think I can basically say “yes”. I also think I should say “no” to you, who had expensive ramen for lunch and thought you made a great effort for your health. The reason why Japanese people are healthy and live longest in this world is that THEY DO NOT EAT SUSHI OR RAMEN EVERY DAY.
Do you think Japanese people usually eat sushi or ramen? Definitely the answer is no. Some of these world famous Japanese foods like sushi are special meals for celebrations like New Year’s Eve etc. On the other hand, some are just an occasional treat, like ramen. In fact people try to avoid having ramen every day because the soup has a lot of fat and salt. It is one of the most notoriously unhealthy foods.
What makes “healthy food” healthy?
So what is a truly healthy Japanese diet? When you think about that, you must look into the foods Japanese people consume in their daily life. Unfortunately today’s young Japanese people do not stick to their traditional culture so much. Their lives are more Americanised than older people, but they still know some important rules to have a healthy diet. We call this “Shoku-iku,” (which means diet education), which every Japanese child will learn from their parents or grandparents. It says that healthy foods are “well-balanced meals”.
People might not know what “well-balanced” means. In the case of healthy eating “well-balanced” means nutritiously diverse. Of course Japanese older people did not learn nutrition when they were students. I think this is an amazing aspect of their history; they did not learn but they knew how their foods should be for their health from their very long history.
How can you know if it’s well-balanced?
To judge if it’s well-balanced or not, they have 2 rules: “Ichijiru Sansai” and ”Magowa Yasashii”. “Ichijiru Sansai” says that a well-balanced meal should have 1 soup and 3 side dishes (including a main). ”Magowa Yasashii” literally means “grandchildren are kind”, but that is not the point. It is actually an acronym formed from the first letter of ingredients you should have in every meal.
Mame(Beans)…Edamame, Peas, Tofu, Soy, Natto and etc
Goma(Sesame)…Sesame, Almond, Peanuts, Chestnut and etc
Wakame(Seaweeds)…Wakame, Konbu, Hijiki, Nori and etc
Yasai(Vegetable)…Tomatoes, Broccoli, Chinese Cabbage and etc
Sakana(Fish)…Mackerels, Salmons etc
Shiitake(Mushrooms)…Shiitake, Shimeji, Maitake, Eringi and etc
Imo(Potatoes)…Potatoes, Sweet Potatoes and etc
This is the reason that Japanese people are healthy.
And one of the good aspects of having all of these ingredients in your meal is that you can enjoy the harmony of different tastes. They call that harmony “UMAMI”. If you are accustomed to the strong tastes of salt, pepper, sugar or chemicals maybe it’s a little difficult to enjoy. Japanese people polish their sensitivity to “umami” throughout their life. After you get used to their mild tastes, you will feel satisfied without so much salt, sugar or chemicals.
Is it really possible for you?
Yes it is. Wherever you live, you can definitely follow the rules of shoku-iku. And now maybe you understand why I said sushi and ramen cannot explain why Japanese food is healthy. If you regularly eat salty food then you will gradually become accustomed to the tastes of salt, and will need to add more. Good Bye Healthy Life!
If you are interested in following the rules of shoku-iku, then this blog will include some examples of well-balanced meals. You do not have to stick on the rules so strictly. Just relax and take it one step at a time.
How was my first article about the Japanese diet? I hope you liked it and visit my website again. Thank you for your reading!xx