The Healthiest Staple Foods in Japanese Cuisine

Miso: Miso contains many traces of minerals including zinc, manganese and copper, which helps to strengthen the immune system, boost energy and protect bones and blood vessels. It is a rich source of protein. One tablespoon has two grams of protein and just 25 calories.

Seaweed: Seaweed contains the broadest range of minerals of any food—the same minerals found in the ocean and in human blood such as, potassium, calcium, magnesium, iron and iodine.

Natto: Natto is made from fermented soybeans and is a common breakfast food in Japan. It is an excellent source of protein, Vitamin B2 and Vitamin K2, which is useful for osteoporosis. It contains compounds including phytosestrogen, seleniun and others. Nattokinase has been found to prevent and reduce the risk of blood clots, as well as provide heart benefits. Some studies suggest that nattokinase can reduce the risk of heart attacks and strokes.

Mushrooms are rich in protein, fiber, Vitamin C, B Vitamins, calcium and minerals but they are also renowned for their medicinal properties. These nutritional powerhouses have been found to lower risk of cancer, boost immune function and help balance blood sugar levels, among some of the benefits (reiki, shitake, maitake).

Edamame: (Soybeans) is a rich source of carbohydrates, proteins, dietary fiber, omega fatty acids, vitamin A and C, iron and calcium. These are also rich in choline, a compound that blocks fat absorption and breaks down fatty deposits.

Ginger: Ginger has proven to help lower your cholesterol levels and prevent the formation of blood clots. Contrary to popular belief, ginger—a piquant, isn't a root, it's a stem, which means it contains living compounds that improve your health. Chief among them is gingerol, a cancer suppressor that studies have shown to be particularly effective against that of the colon. Ginger has proven to help lower your cholesterol levels and prevent the formation of blood clots.

Green tea: Green tea is a rich source of catechin polyphenols, namely epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG) which is a potent antioxidant that appears to be responsible for many of green tea’s health benefits. It has been found to help prevent cancer and heart disease.

Sashimi: Sashimi offers all of the benefits of fresh fish—an excellent source of protein, omega and other nutrients like selenium, niacin and Vitamin B12, phosphorous, magnesium and Vitamin B6. Because sashimi is consumed raw, it is possible for it to contain parasites, but choosing sashimi-grade fish or dining at a restaurant reduces these risks.

Health Benefits of Sushi

For a person with normal health, sushi has many health benefits.

All dishes (excluding eel and some fusion style sushi) are low in saturated fat and high in protein. There may be a slight load in carbohydrates in thick sushi rolls, but it is negligible for nigiri sushi since they are small in amount. High content of fish oil is the main health factor which promotes a healthy cardiovascular system. The hikarimono, or shiny fishes (mackerel, Spanish mackerel, sardine, Pacific Saury) contain the highest amount of EPA and DHA omega3 fats. These fishes are also high in vitamin E which is a powerful antioxidant. Nori contains a great source of minerals found in the ocean and vinegar acts as an important factor in promoting cell metabolism. People who use vinegar frequently (to dress salads, blending with soy sauce, or drinking in small amounts (please refer to rice vinegar in choosing the best ingredients) have lower percentages of body fat. Unfortunately, people with type Ι or type ΙΙ diabetes should stay away from sushi, and stick to sashimi. Individuals with high blood pressure must limit their use of soy sauce.

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