The Japanese are known to have one of the highest life expectancies in the world which many believe is due to the cuisine they eat. Japanese food traditionally consists of fresh fish, fresh vegetables and rice prepared raw, steamed, boiled or poached. Japanese food is clean, fresh and packed with flavour but as with many cuisines, the westernised version adds masses of soy sauce and high fat or sugary sauces. Fish is an integral part of Japanese cuisine. Although Japan by no means have the largest population in the world, they eat approx. 10% of the worlds fish. Omega 3 rich sources are a favourite including salmon, herring, mackerel, sardines and tuna.
Sushi and sashimi tend to dominate Japanese menu’s, however there are plenty of other options including vegetable, noodle and tofu dishes.
Miso soup made from fermented soy beans and fish broth is packed with protein and very little fat making it a great opening to your meal.
If you want something more substantial than a soup yakitori (skewered grilled chicken) is a good choice. Avoid tempura dishes which are vegetables, meat or seafood deep fried, adding a few hundred calories.
If you don’t want to have a filling starter choose Edamame – fresh soy beans rich in protein, omega 3 fatty acids, fibre and vitamin C. Many restaurants add salt so don’t be afraid to ask for them without.
Sushi is integral to Japanese cuisine and is associated with being a healthy choice. It combines raw fish with white rice, wrapped in nori sheets. Sushi is high in protein, low in fat and rich in omega 3 fatty acids which are known to have a number of health benefits. However, don’t think all sushi is the same. Some can be a few hundred calories per roll especially pre packed sushi rolls which are filled with preservatives and refined carbohydrates, so choose wisely.
If you don’t want the carbohydrate content that comes with sushi then sashimi is your answer. Sashimi is seafood in its rawest form, providing plenty of protein but with minimal fat.
Noodles feature regularly on Japanese menu’s in broths and main dishes. There are several types of noodles which vary in size and thickness:
SAKE a traditional Japanese rice wine, is a standard on Japanese menu’s however its packed with calories. If you are watching your intake, save on the calories and swap Sake for Japanese green tea which is packed with antioxidants and will help you clean your palate after a filling meal.