I grew up in Japan, where I learned from an early age to think about food as medicine. My grandmother is 92 and she also attributes her longevity to eating the right foods.
Japan is home to some of the longest living people in the world: There is now 90,526 centenarians, or people aged 100 and over. That’s more than five times the amount from two decades ago, according to a 2022 study Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare report.
And the small isolated Japanese island of Okinawan has been named as having the highest concentration of centenarians in the world.
As a nutritionist who follows a traditional Japanese diet, here are five foods that my family and I eat every day to stay healthy and healthy. to live longer:
1. Japanese sweet potatoes
2. Miso soup
The Japanese diet contains a variety of dishes containing fermented foods, and miso soup is popular. Miso is a paste made from soybeans and fermented cereals.
Probiotics, live bacteria or yeast in fermented foods can help balance our gut health and boost the immune system.
A study found that men and women who ate the most fermented soy (like miso, tofu, and tempeh) were 10% less likely to die prematurely — from all causes — than those who rarely ate these foods.
3. Daikon Radish
Root vegetables are popular in Japanese cuisine and offer a host of unique health benefits.
Daikon radishes are known for help prevent colds And boost the immune system. A radish contains 124% of the recommended daily vitamin C intake.
Other healthy root vegetables (which may be easier to find in US grocery stores) include carrots, beets, parsnips and turnips.
Seaweed is rich in important minerals such as iron, calcium, folate and magnesium.
Eating it every day helps add fiber to my diet. Adequate fiber intake has been associated with a reduced risk of heart disease, stroke, hypertension And Type 2 diabetes.
Seaweed also contains antioxidants like fucoxanthin and fucoidan, both of which have anti-inflammatory properties, anti-aging and anticancer properties.
I always include protein in my daily diet, especially fatty fish like salmon and tuna. Omega-3 fatty acids in fish can help lower blood pressure, reduce triglycerides and relieve inflammation.
In Japan, we often say “itadakimasu,” which translates to “I humbly receive,” before meals to show our appreciation for animals and farmers. I believe this mindful eating practice contributes to our health and quality of life.
Asako Miyashita, MS, RDN, CDN, is a registered dietitian and nutritionist, with 20 years of experience in longevity research. Born and raised in Tokyo, Japan, she uses Western and Eastern perspectives in her work to help improve the health of her clients. She has been a guest lecturer at several universities and organizations, including the Japanese Medical Society of America. Follow her on Instagram @miasako.