Watching Forks Over Knives again last week, I was struck by the statement that before adopting a more westernized diet, Japan had one of the highest longevity rates and was considered one of the healthiest diets on earth. That got me to wondering about the Japanese traditional diet. What I learned is that they ate a lot of fresh fruits and vegetables. What a surprise! They also would eat a lot of fish too, though --- oftentimes twice a day. And they eat a lot of rice --- like every meal contains a fair amount of rice. And they drink green tea. Each one of those things is attributed by different experts as being the reason for Japanese longevity and health. It's probably a combination of all and not the result of any one particular food. And as some have pointed out, it could have much to do with a lack of processed foods and added sugars in the traditional Japanese diet.
Whatever it is, I found myself interested in some of the foods they eat, and I decided to have a traditional Japanese meal for lunch today, although I realize now that I failed because I did not include rice in my lunch. Also, my Americanized portion sizes might be larger than what they eat. But I did have hiya-yakko and miso soup for lunch today along with a number of different raw veggies and fruit (which are absent from the picture below).
This was actually a very simple meal to make. The miso (in the foreground) came in a package and I just had to mix with hot water. The hiya-yakko is nothing more than a chilled block of extra firm silken tofu topped with soy sauce, green onions and sliced ginger.
One comment about the Japanese diet is that it appears to be high in sodium, and of course the soy sauce pictured is high in sodium content. This is not an issue for me because my blood pressure is well within normal range and has never been a problem for me. And curiously, it appears to also not be a problem for those who regularly eat a traditional Japanese diet. However, for others it could be an issue.
So, how do you say "Bon appetite" in Japanese?