Diets of the World: The Japanese Diet
is kind of a vegetable-crazed nation," Moriyama says. When Japanese women
were asked which home-cooked meals they most loved to prepare for their
families, "mixed vegetables simmered in seasoned broth" received the
highest ranking. Red bell peppers, green beans, zucchini, eggplant, onions,
burdock, tomatoes, green peppers, lettuce, carrots, spinach, bamboo shoots,
beets, lotus root, turnips, daikon (or giant white radish), shiitake mushrooms,
sweet potatoes, and seaweed (or sea vegetables), such as kombu, nori, and
wakame all have a place in the Japanese diet.
As many as four or five different varieties are served in a single meal --
and no one thinks it odd to have vegetable soup or a salad for breakfast.
Veggies are served simmered in seasoned broth, stir-fried in a small bit of
canola oil, or lightly steamed -- all methods that maintain a maximum amount of
A good catch. Fish, especially fatty fish -- like Japanese favorites
salmon and fresh tuna, mackerel, sardines, and herring -- are a great source of
omega-3 fatty acids, which are known for their heart-health and mood-boosting
benefits, Moriyama tells WebMD. And though Japan accounts for only 2% of the
world's population, its people eat 10% of the world's fish. The flipside of
Japan's fish craze means the Japanese eat less red meat, which contains
artery-clogging saturated fat that, if eaten to excess, can lead to obesity and
Soy good. When consumed in moderation, natural soy products like tofu
and edamame beans are a great protein alternative to red meat because they have
little or no saturated fat, says Moriyama. Japanese meals often include more
than one soy-based dish, like miso soup (miso is fermented soy beans) and
chunks of tofu.
Delicious desserts. A typical Japanese dessert is an assortment of
seasonal fruits, peeled, sliced, and arranged on a pretty plate, Moriyama says.
People do enjoy Western desserts like ice cream and cakes, but they're usually
offered in smaller portions and subtler flavors compared to the West. A cup of
Japanese green tea is the perfect end to any meal.