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What is this all about Okinawa diet?

The Okinawa islanders, situated at the southern tip of Japan in the vast Pacific Ocean, have an interesting diet plan. People here reportedly have longest life expectancy than anywhere else on the planet!

Okinawa diet is really simple and close to the nature. It composes mainly of green/orange/yellow (GOY) vegetables, fruits, roots, and tubers and simple seafood.  

 

An average Okinawan consumes no more than one calorie per gram of food and median BMI (Body Mass Index) is 20.Reports suggest that, on an average, a typical Okinawan may live for about 110 years of healthy productive life. This is partly because of their genetic makeup. However, recent community research studies on Okinawa population suggest that the most important factor influencing their longevity is the simple food they eat, passed to them through their ancestors for centuries.

 

Features of Okinawa diet -

 

  • Vegetarian and seafood rich: The traditional diet includes a relatively small amount of fish, soy, low calorie vegetables like bitter melon, and other legumes.No meat, eggs, or dairy products are consumed. Fish provides omega-3 essential fatty acids like alpha-linolenic acid(ALA), eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). Soy (in the form of tofu), besides being a very good source of protein, contains health promoting compounds like soluble dietary fiber, antioxidant tannins, and plant-sterols. Altogether, these phyto-nutrients offer protection against heart diseases, stroke, colon, and prostate cancers.

 

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  • Calorie restricted diet: Okinawan people's diet is 20% lower in calories than an average Japanese consume. Their diet consistently averaging no more than one calorie per gram and the average Okinawan has a BMI (Body Mass Index) of 20. It is recognized that the food consumed itself contains more free-radicals than through the external agents like bacteria, viruses, etc. Calorie restriction, therefore, thought to improve health and slow the aging process in some animal models like rodents by limiting their dietary energy intake below daily-average needs.

 

  • Antioxidant rich diet: Okinawa diet composes mainly of green/orange/yellow (GOY) vegetables, fruits, roots, and tubers. These foods are rich sources of antioxidant vitamins like vitamin-C, vitamin-A, and flavonoid poly-phenolic compounds like ß-carotenes, luteins, xanthins, and minerals like calcium, iron, potassium, and zinc.

 

  • Low in fat and sugar: The Okinawa diet is low in fat and has only 25% of the sugar and 75% of the grains of the average Japanese dietary intake. Low-fat and limited sugar in the diet can definitely help prevent coronary heart diseases and stroke risk.

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