Courtesy Unsplash, photo by Mahmoud Fawzy
Put Japanese food at the top of your list – this cuisine easily fits into a healthy lifestyle.
What’s for dinner? You can get big applause for answering miso soup, sushi, oden, soba noodle, and edamame. Japanese cuisine is one of the most popular Asian dishes. For all the right reasons.
Japan’s history is rich in influences in its unique cuisine. Buddhism, one of the major religions in Japan, prohibits the consumption of meat (except fish). From the beginning, Japanese cuisine has focused on fish, fruit and vegetables. China introduced rice in the Japanese diet. The Dutch brought corn, potatoes and sweet potatoes. And the Portuguese taught the Japanese to use a batter for frying vegetables (tempura).
Diversity and moderation
Take a look at Japanese dishes and you will find a variety of rich colors. Dishes often contain many different fruits and vegetables that are rich in vitamins and minerals. Fruit and vegetables are also lower in calories and fat.
“Research suggests that people with more food in front of them tend to eat more, whether it’s served on plates or serving themselves from a container,” says WebMD.
And Japanese portion sizes are small to moderate. There’s no such thing as super-sizing in a Japanese restaurant. A moderate serving of food, which is lower in calories and lower in fat than many other restaurants, is helpful in meeting the Recommended Dietary Levels (RDAs) developed by the Food and Nutrition Board.
Many Japanese dishes combine both variety and moderation, such as kinpira gobo, cucumber sunomono, and okra aemono.
Fish and omega-3 fatty acids
Since meat is rarely consumed in Japan for religious reasons, the Japanese turned to fish and tofu to provide the much-needed protein in their diet. While it is recommended in the US to eat fish at least twice a week, the Japanese consume it more regularly.
“Oily fish like salmon, mackerel, herring, lake trout, sardines and albacore tuna are high in omega-3s,” according to Heart.org. Omega-3 fatty acids offer many health benefits such as lowering blood pressure and triglycerides (fats in the body), lowering the risk of heart disease, and promoting mental health during pregnancy.
Be sure to try Japanese dishes with fish – sushi, sashimi, buri daikon, and misozuke salmon.
Rice and whole grains
Carbohydrates are vital in your daily diet as they provide the most easily processed energy that your body uses to digest other foods. Unfortunately, those in the US have only recently discovered that too many carbohydrates can lead to weight gain and even diabetes.
Japanese cuisine takes a healthy approach to carbohydrates. Rice and whole grains accompany many of the traditional Japanese dishes. And you don’t have to worry about gluten, because all types of rice (white, brown, wild) are naturally gluten-free.
Some of the most important cooking methods in Japanese cuisine include cooking in liquid, cooking over direct heat, or steaming. Often broth is used to simmer fish and vegetables. Direct heating and steaming are both healthy cooking methods that can better preserve the natural nutrients in the food and add a lot of flavor. The Japanese also beat vegetables called tempura out of the dough. While deep-frying dough isn’t on the list of healthy alternatives, tempura is a lighter batter than many other doughs used in the United States
Now that your mouth is watering, grab a friend and head to your favorite Japanese restaurant for dinner. Or be creative if you try a Japanese dinner in your own kitchen.
What is your favorite Japanese cuisine? Share in the comments.