Written by a Japanese friend of Project Swole, this treatise on Washoku and the Japanese diet will help us all to understand why and how a Japanese diet is healthy. While it might not be your prerogative to change your diet completely, taking away some elements from the Japanese diet to supplement your own diet, could lead to a healthier body and ultimately better progress as an athlete. Without further ado, Project Swole presents The Japanese Diet.
Why should you care about the Japanese diet?
Nowadays, what we eat can be very different from what was standard only a few years ago. Strong emphasis on processed unhealthy foods and eating out, which has a lot of unhealthy fats, sugars, and salt, has created a huge obesity problem. It is worth returning to simpler times and presenting a Japanese diet that can interest many people. I invite you to be educated.
Umami – the fifth taste
At the very beginning, we present what is one of the basic flavors we can meet in this diet. Over the past twenty years, many articles have been written about what basically the umami taste is – the fifth flavor, which in English is also called “savory.” Umami is mainly extracted through the amino acid glutamate, which is the typical aroma of Japanese dishes.
You can find glutamate in food like the Japanese broth called “dashi” which also has quite a lot of inosine monophosphate or guanosine monophosphate (both affect how we feel umami) – in this way the aroma of the ingredients is even more palpable, making this dish even tastier. This is an important issue because the Japanese diet gives you a feeling of satiety and greater satisfaction with the meal, which has a positive effect on how much you eat during the day.
Washoku – a traditional Japanese diet
Washoku is the general name for dishes of native origin. They have a specific composition and stick to certain rules
basic food – grains, mainly rice (pasta or glutinous rice)
soup – miso soup (seaweed, crustaceans, vegetables)
main course – fish, seafood, sometimes also meat
appetizer – vegetables. mushrooms, seaweed, crustaceans
Intriguing in Washoku is how we eat a given dish because we eat each dish interchangeably which gives us a huge variety. In addition, the fact that we use chopsticks for food forces us to consume smaller portions, which gives us a greater feeling of satiety.
Additionally, frequent consumption of soup by men in Japan has been associated with low BMI levels and less obesity. Dashi broth gives dishes this umami flavor that positively affects the rest of our dinner. Also, the use of water in Washoku is important for the fact that the broth will not only be full but also well hydrated.
We must not forget about fish, which often appear in the Japanese diet and offer many important and needed nutrients, and about tofu, which is mainly associated with a vegetarian/vegan diet and in Asian countries with a normal way of providing protein.
Of course, the topic of what we will find in Washoku is very wide and we will certainly find many interesting recipe books on the bookstore shelves. However, the most important issues here are:
- size and shape of serving dishes (small portions, rice, soup, alternating dishes)
- method of preparing/cooking the meals (less frying in unhealthy fat)
- a lot of healthy nutrients (vegetables, soybeans, fish)
- wonderful taste – umami releases the flavors of dishes better, which promotes satiety and satisfaction with the meal
Is the Japanese diet healthy?
As the cult of eating a traditional diet still exists in Japan, many studies have found a link between food and longevity and low levels of obesity. Interestingly, moving away from Washoku caused an increase in weight problems, which again arose interest in this diet. This is mainly due to the fact that there is a lot of emphasis on eating fish and soybeans along with the reduction of fat-rich dishes.
Despite the fact that we meet with a large amount of salt, despite this, Japanese are less likely to have problems with cardiovascular disease compared to people on a Western diet rich in processed products. In addition, the classic Japanese diet is considered a balanced diet that provides all the necessary nutrients and is less problematic for our environment.
For many, the Japanese diet can certainly be only a curiosity because it forces huge changes in the matter of cooking and style of eating the dish. However, it has many interesting solutions that can be safely used as more emphasis on eating rice, fish, and soup. I recommend that you take a deeper interest in the subject and check out interesting recipes that are available to the public.