Less known to the people in the West, there are many super foods eaten in Japan. And many Japanese centenarians believe that their longevity is due to their diet and lifestyle.
Here are popular 5 Japanese Super food that Japanese centenarians that attribute for their long and healthy lives,
1. Miso - rhymes with Miho, my name :) Anyways, miso is a fermented soybean paste that is traditionally used in Japanese cuisine. Like many other fermented foods, miso helps to improve the balance of our gut bacteria. Miraculously, there were a handful of people who survived an atomic bomb and the radiation exposure less than 1 mile away from the hypocenter, some of them are still alive and well (in their 80-90's!). The research found that these people were drinking miso soup almost daily since their young age.
2. Matcha - by all means, I don't mean a sweet matcha latte from Starbucks. Matcha is a traditional Japanese beverage made out of green tea leaves. It is a type of tea but matcha is less processed than a regular green tea that comes in a tea bag. Fresh matcha powder outweighs some of the most powerful superfoods such as goji berries, blueberries, and spinach, just in one teaspoon. Matcher power has been found to aid metabolism and provides a sustained stream of energy as opposed to coffee or energy drinks. L-theanine (an amino acid) in matcha also helps to lower anxiety.
3. Soba Noodles - gaining its popularity in the U.S., this versatile noodle is made out of buckwheat flour. They are low in calories but packed with nutrition. Including high protein content, vitamin B, magnesium, and antioxidants. Soba noodles make a great cold noodle salad in the summer (recipe below) and in the winter, it makes a great noodle soup.
4. Shiitake Mushroom
They are one of my favorite vegetables/fungus. I truly enjoy cooking and discovering their unique flavors. Also, for centuries mushrooms were used as medicine for many traditions around the world. You can enjoy eating these mushrooms while expecting some health benefits!
Is one of the most popular mushrooms used in Asian cuisine. The unique flavor stimulates your “umami” taste senses. Umami is one of 5 flavors human can detect, but the benefit of Umami is far greater than other flavors like sweet and salty. Umami is studied extensively and is found to increase satiety and enhance other flavors in the dish. Therefore, you will be satiated with less amount of food and seasonings that are higher in sugar and/or salt. As a fungus, mushrooms contain a high amount of protein; for shiitake mushrooms, they contain all eight essential amino acids to facilitate healthy bodily functions. They are packed with B vitamins and have antiviral, antibacterial, and antifungal properties. They are an excellent source of niacin and pantothenic acid which helps boost energy levels and metabolism. Also, they are shown to be effective for reducing the risk of death by certain types of cancer.
5. Natto - the best-kept secret of Japanese centenarians. It is a traditional Japanese staple made from fermented soybeans. Despite its pungent smell and sticky/slimy texture (think okra),
While they may lack value in culinary perspective, it's nutrition value is top notch. Abundant active probiotic complimented with prebiotic (soluble fiber from soy), the enzyme produced by Bacillus Subitlis (probiotic in natto) has been shown to effectively resolve blood clots, improve HDL level (good cholesterol), and lower blood pressure. Natto is packed with antioxidants, vitamin C, B, B12, K, and high protein level.
Japanese people like to eat natto in the morning with steamed rice, a teaspoon of soy sauce, chopped green onion to take the edge off the smell.
Here's a simple and easy Japanese recipe you can try this summer!
Cold Soba Noodle Salad (peanut sauce or ginger soy vinaigrette)
Soba Noodle Salad:
6.2 oz Buckwheat Noodles (2/3 of a pack)
2 cup Red Cabbage, thinly shredded
1 1/2 cup Carrot, grated
1 2/3 cup Cucumber, thinly sliced
1/2 cup Cilantro, chopped
Peanut Sauce Dressing
1/2 cup Natural Peanut Butter (smooth or chunky, your choice)
Juice of 1 Lime
1 tbsp Tamari (or Soy Sauce)
2 cloves Garlic, minced
1/2 tbsp Ginger, grated
1/2 tsp Brown Sugar
2-4 tbsp Water
Instruction: mix all the ingredients in a small bowl. Begin with 2 tbsp of water, then add water in 1 tbsp increments until the sauce reaches your desired consistency.
Ginger soy vinaigrette
1 tbsp grated fresh ginger
1 tbsp rice vinegar
1 tsp sesame oil
1 tbsp Tamari (or Soy sauce)
Instruction: mix all the ingredients in a small bowl.
1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil and cook your Soba Noodles according to package instructions; usually about 5-10 min. Drain in a colander and rinse with cold water.
2. Add the Cabbage, Carrot, Cucumber, and Cilantro to a large bowl. Pour the Sauce over the veggies and mix well. Then, gently fold in the rinsed & drained Soba Noodles.
3. Garnish with Sesame Seeds, cool in the refrigerator for 30 min before serving.