What makes Japanese food so healthy? Is it hereditary? Or is it the diet of fish, vegetables, and fermented foods? Or is it tofu or green tea responsible for their high life expectancy? The secret is in diet habits more than the diet itself. 

What Is A Traditional Japanese Diet?

The Japanese cuisine largely depends on the geography of the country. Japan is a cluster of islands hence, their staple food includes a variety of fishes. In addition to this, they rely on rice, noodles, tofu, natto, seaweed, eggs, dairy meat, and fresh, cooked, or pickled vegetables and fruits that are low in added sugars and fats. 


In opposition to modern Japanese cuisine that has strong Western and Chinese flavors, the traditional Japanese diet is largely dependent on animal protein and processed foods. 

Why Japanese Food is Healthy?

‘Hara-Hachi Bunme’ 


Surprisingly, when someone claims that Japanese food is healthier than other cuisines, it is more in the sense of portion sizes. For the modern lifestyle, the Japanese diet is more sustainable as it encourages moderation for food consumption. 


The Japanese people practice the habit of ‘Hara Hachi-bunme’ or eating until you are 80% full. Simply put, it means balancing the amount of food so that the person neither feels heavy or remains hungry after a meal. 


Unlike other societies, there is no pressure on an individual (including children) to practice self-control or impose severe restrictions on eating healthily in Japanese society. Their nutrition education is largely based around ‘values of balance’. 

Choosing the ‘Right’ plate

As mentioned above, the healthiness of the cuisine starts with proper portioning. This starts with choosing the right plate size. In order to practice this concept at home and gather a proper understanding of the proper meal size, the first and foremost step is to choose the correct plate sizes. We tend to eat more when food is served in one single large plate. 


Japanese foods are prepared under the concept of ichiju-sansai or “one soup, three sides”. According to this idea, an individual should eat one single serving of rice, miso soup, two small vegetable dishes and one single-serving of protein dish. With smaller plate sizes and varied food types, automatically there is portion control. 


Principle of ‘variety’

Another principle that Japanese society follows in relation to healthy eating is incorporating a variety of fruits and vegetables along with grains and proteins. Also,  the cuisine uses foods that are rich in fiber naturally at the same time low in calories. 


Supposedly, a Japanese person consumes almost 15 to 20 types of food on a daily basis. Nutritions in Japan urge to eat at least 30 different types of food in a day. A wide variety of foods ensures a more balanced diet. 

What are the benefits of eating a traditional Japanese diet?

Here is a list of reasons that might help in answering the question, “Why Japanese cuisine is healthy?”


  • Nutritious and rich in beneficial compounds


Owing to consuming a variety of fruits and vegetables, the diet is nutritious including fiber, calcium, potassium, magnesium, vitamins, antioxidants, and omega 3 fatty acids. 


  • Helps in maintaining gut health


Foods such as seaweed, soybeans, fruits, and vegetables are high in soluble fiber that promotes gut health and reduces the risk of constipation


  • Encourages weight loss


Due to the practice of moderation, the Japanese people don’t tend to overeat thereby, reducing the chances of obesity. 


  • Prevents chronic diseases


Japanese society is not prone to chronic diseases such as cardiac ailments and diabetes. Additionally,  drinking green tea on a regular basis reduces the risk of Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease and the particular type of cancer. 


  • Encourages longevity 


Due to its traditional Japanese diet, the country has the world’s largest life expectancy. 

Which Japanese food is Healthy?

Some of the food items that Japanese people incorporate in their daily diet are- 

  1. Umeboshi
  2. Miso soup
  3. Natto
  4. Amazake
  5. Konnyaku
  6. Daikon 
  7. Green tea
  8. Seaweed 


The primary foundation of Japanese cuisine is the psychology that encourages a sustainable and comfortable lifestyle. It should be mentioned here that education pertaining to Japanese cuisine is not related to discipline and rules. This is more about enjoying foods in moderation. Consciously making proper health decisions is the primary aspect of Japanese cuisine. 

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