Should You Try the Okinawa Diet?

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For anyone who wants to be healthy and live a long life, there’s one diet that may be fitting for this. Called the Okinawa Diet, the diet follows a lifestyle lived by the inhabitants of Ryukyu Islands in Okinawa, Japan; where a number of record holding centenarians have been known to live. These are individuals that have lived longer than 100 years old. While this age may seem crazy to reach, it is a reality and now, you have the chance to practice what these centenarians did so you can also live an age over 100 years old.

Famous Centenarians

Throughout history, inhabitants of Ryukyu islands have made news for being the oldest people recorded to live. Some of these individuals include Jiroemon Kimura, who lived up to 116 and Misao Okawa, who died at 115 years old. Surprisingly, even the oldest living dog in the world can be found in the island before it died in 2011. Because of this, it is only fitting for the diet to be named after the island.

 

What is the Okinawa Diet?

The Okinawa Diet consists of a high vegetable and legumes but with a low amount of meat. Most of the dishes that are included in the diet are rice, seaweed, tofu, pickles, bamboo shoots, green tea, and small cubes of pork belly. The diet contains low calories and fat but comes with a high amount of complex carbohydrates that come from vegetables. Dairy is also consumed to a minimal amount, along with an occasional drink of alcoholic beverages.

Surprisingly, fish is also consumed in moderation under the Okinawa Diet. Only three servings of fish are consumed per week. The diet also consists of consuming squid and octopus, since these are high in taurine (an amino acid that helps lower blood pressure and cholesterol).

On the other hand, the vegetables included in the diet have a high amount of nutrients in them. For example, purple sweet potatoes contain a rich amount of vitamin E, flavonoids, carotenoids and lycopene. These, together with goya cucumbers, have been proven to be beneficial for diabetics as it helps lower blood sugar. The teas consumed in the diet, like jasmine and turmeric, are able to prevent cancer.

 

Features of the Okinawa Diet

 

  • Calorie restricted diet. By restricting the amount of calories you consume, you can improve your health and slow down the aging process in your body.
  • Anti-oxidant rich diet. The Okinawa Diet is mainly made up of green, orange, and yellow vegetables, fruits, tubers and roots. With these foods, you can get vitamins A and C, potassium, iron, calcium, B-carotenes, and flavonoids.
  • Low in fat and sugar. The average intake of Japanese under the Okinawa Diet is just 25% sugar and 75% grains. This combination helps minimize the risk for stroke or cardiac diseases.
  • Vegetarian and seafood rich. As mentioned, the typical diet of someone in Okinawa is composed of a small amount of fish. Instead of fish, they consume low calorie vegetables like bitter melon, legumes, and soy.

 

Categories of the Okinawa Diet

The food under the Okinawa Diet can be divided into four categories, based on their caloric density. Here are the different classifications:

 

  • Featherweight Foods – The food items that fall under this classification provide less than or just 0.8 calories per gram. Some examples of food groups under this category are citrus fruits, low calorie vegetables such as cucumber and spinach. Because of this, you can eat as many as you want per day without worrying about your health or weight.
  • Lightweight Foods – Food items that have a caloric density between 0.8 to 1.5 calories per gram belong tot his group. These include bananas and potatoes. They should be consumed in moderation.
  • Middleweight Foods – For food items with a caloric density of 1.5 to 3.0 calories per gram, it is recommended that they should only be consumed while portion size is being monitored carefully. The foods under this group include legume products, lean meat, and wheat.
  • Heavyweight Foods – Food items that have between 3 to 9 calories per gram include oils, fats, oil seeds, nuts, and red meat. As advised, these items should only be consumed in moderation.

 

What to Include in Your Grocery List

If you are interested in starting the Okinawa Diet, here are some of the ingredients that you can include in your grocery list:

 

Sweet Potatoes

Historically, Okinawans ate a lot of sweet potatoes because rice was an expensive commodity. Especially white rice, it was even considered as a status symbol. So instead, they ate sweet potatoes a lot. Despite this, they were still able to get the vitamins and nutrients they needed such as vitamins A, C and E, potassium, fiber, and calcium.

 

Bitter Melon

As a gourd, bitter melon is known for many things goo-fa, goya, or ku gua. The best way to consume this is to incorporate it in stir-fried meals and salads. However, it can also be added into juices or teas. Bitter melon contains a number of beneficial phytochemicals, fiber, and vitamin C.

 

Shiitake Mushrooms

Shiitake Mushrooms are very common ingredient found in Asian dishes. It not only is delicious, it is also very nutritious. Eating this will provide you health benefits that are advantageous to your immune system and cholesterol regulation.

 

Seaweed

The commonly used seaweeds found in Okinawa are hijiki, kombu and mozuku. Typically, these are served with noodles, stir-fries, vegetables, and salads. This is an ingredient rich in calcium, folate, iodine, astaxanthin, iron, and magnesium.

 

Soy

Traditionally, Okinawa diet is comprised of soy in the form of tofu and miso paste. Soy contains plant proteins, flavonoids, and phytoestrogens. By consuming these, you can get the many health advantages that you need.

 

Herbs and Spices

Apart from just adding flavor to dishes, herbs and spices are seasonings used in the Okinawa Diet. Among the most commonly used are mugwort, fennel seeds, turmeric, and Okinawan peppers. While they promote health benefits to the body, they also add flavor to the dish without any calories.

 

Is the Okinawa Diet for You?

The Okinawa Diet has been proven to be helpful for anyone who wants to live healthy and a longer life. It can also help you lose weight. Despite these things, you have to know that the diet tends to be high in sodium. Make sure you check with your physician before you decide to go with this diet.

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