You may have noticed that Japanese people tend to live long lifespans while maintaining much their physical fitness. Did you ever wonder what it is about their culture and way of life that contributes to them having the highest life expectancy in the world? Some people think it has to do with what people in Japan eat. But exploring the popular Japanese diet isn’t so easy. Consider all the things that you eat and how they differ from what other people you know eat? And that’s all just within one culture.
A typical Japanese meal
There are many things about cuisine in Japan that have stood the test of time. A lot of it has to do with the general overall healthiness of the majority of their food staples. A typical Japanese meal is a serving of rice, some kind of fish related dish, a vegetable side or two, and possibly soup (typically Miso). This may not sound so appetizing to the traditional Western palate, but until you try some traditional Japanese food, you don’t know what you are missing.
Rice and fish
At a very basic level, it’s easiest to say that Japanese people eat rice and fish. But that doesn’t really scratch the surface of the Japanese diet. However, it is a good place to start.
The Japanese eat rice with just about everything. Many of their dishes feature rice as an element, but in just as many dishes, rice is the main component.
- Plain white rice, usually steamed. Sometimes served with an egg or sauce.
- Donburi is rice with another food item on top. There are many, many varieties.
- Rice balls, wrapped in seaweed,
- Curry rice
Japanese people eat way more fish than most Western cultures. They eat more fish than red meat, and as you probably know, fish is much healthier. In Japan, they prepare fish in a multitude of ways. The most popular and most recognizable of Japanese fish cuisine is sushi and sashimi.
- Sushi is raw fish, thinly sliced. It is usually accompanied with rice in some way or another. There are many types of sushi and many dishes that are really just sushi prepared in a different way with a different name.
- Sashimi, like sushi, is also thinly sliced raw fish. However, unlike sushi, sashimi comes with wasabi. Wasabi is a strong and hot root comparable to hot pepper, but different.
Both sushi and sashimi can consist of seafood other than fish. Not all fish consumption is raw. The Japanese love fish in a variety of ways. Yakizakana is an example of grilled fish.
Other things that Japanese people eat
- Seafood in general
Japanese people love seafood. If it comes from the sea, it may just find its way on a plate.
Japanese people like vegetables, but they also love pickled vegetables. A vegetable of some sort is almost always a part of their dishes.
Ramen, soba, udon, yakisoba and other noodle dishes have always been popular in Japan. They are often served with a vegetable, or an egg in the case of ramen.
It’s not all fish and vegetables
In addition, the Japanese also eat a lot of soybean dishes, like tofu. They do have many meat and chicken dishes that they like to prepare as well, and as usual, these dishes often come along with rice or a vegetable. They also enjoy many western dishes and even have popular fast food chains. But traditional Japanese fare consists of the more healthy stuff. They also tend towards smaller portions.
the Japanese diet
The Japanese diet is extremely low in fat and sodium. That’s one of the ways the Japanese avoid rapid weight gain, heart disease and other problems that arise from a bad diet. It’s important to remember that it is not just their diet that keeps them healthy for so long. The Japanese way of life contributes greatly to their longevity and fitness. They exercise more, move their bodies more, drink more green tea and seem to have better ways of relaxing themselves.
Try the Japanese diet yourself and see if it makes a difference in your life. As far as healthy eating choices go, the food Japanese people eat is a good way to start.