Ever wonder why Japanese people tend to be so healthy and live so long? One of the reasons lies in the foods they eat. Japanese diets emphasize quality and variety of foods. In fact, one of the guidelines for a Japanese diet is to eat 30 different types of food every day. That's quite a contrast to the typical American diet. Here in the US, we tend to enjoy large servings and we eat much the same things over and over again, even if we're trying to eat healthier foods.
Returning To A Better DietThe 30 different food items a day guide started in 1985 in response to the health problems that Western diets introduced to Japan. Diabetes, heart disease, and obesity that were almost unheard of several decades before suddenly became huge problems for the Japanese. The solution, researchers agreed, was to return to a more traditional diet with small servings of a large variety of foods. And it seems to have worked. Life expectancy in Japan is now higher than almost anywhere else in the world and the people living there tend to enjoy better health as well.
Balancing Food CategoriesBut why is this diet so healthy? There are quite a few reasons. For one thing, eating a variety of foods encourages a more well-balanced diet. The Japanese aren't eating 30 different kinds of fats or carbs. They're eating a balance of foods from five categories:
- Meat, fish, poultry, egg, tofu products (protein).
- Milk and dairy products (calcium).
- Vegetables and fruits (essential vitamins and minerals).
- Grains, potato, bread/cakes/cookies (carbohydrates).
- Cooking oil, nut and seed oils, nuts and seeds (fat).