The traditional Japanese and Mediterranean diets are often considered to be the healthiest in the world, with proven links to increased life expectancy. A number of studies in recent years have confirmed that both diets are directly linked to a reduced risk of numerous diseases. So what's the secret?
Both diets couldn't be more different when it comes to ingredients, preparation and flavour, but they both share the same key nutrients which can help us to live longer and healthier lives. Whether it's ramen or paella, hummus or sushi, the Japanese and Mediterranean diets are both packed full of the same essential goodness we need every day. And they're both delicious!
This infographic explores the nutrients which make these diets so powerful, the dishes in which they can be found and the practical steps you can take towards healthier eating habits.
Note: The Mediterranean region is considered to be any land which borders the Mediterranean sea, from Spain in the west to Israel in the east.
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The Japanese Washoku and Mediterranean diets are part of the world's intangible cultural heritage. UNESCO, 2014.
Regions that follow these diets have some of the highest life expectancy in the world.
World average 72 years. Mediterranean region 79 years. Japan 85 years.
Acciaroli. The village south of Naples where 10% of residents are over 100 years old.
Okinawa. The island is home to the greatest proportion of centenarians anywhere in the world.
Highway to Health.
Studies show these diets reduce the risk of some diseases.
Stroke: Mediterranean 25%. Japanese 22%.
Cancer: Mediterranean 35%. Japanese 27%.
Parkinson's: Mediterranean 46%. Japanese 50%.
Why is this the case? Both diets use very different ingredients, but share many of the vital nutrients needed to keep us healthy.
Fruits & Vegetables: Cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, cabbage and kale contain compounds which help prevent cancer.
Wheats & Grains: Whole grains contain complex carbohydrates, which help prevent blood sugar spikes and are easily digested.
Legumes, Seeds & Nuts: Walnuts are high in omega 3 fatty acids which lower bad cholesterol.
Fish & Seafood: Fatty fish like sardines, salmon and tuna are best for omega 3 acids, which are good for brain function.
Eggs, Meat & Dairy: Red meat contains saturated fats which can increase the risk of heart disease, so should be limited to 3 or 4 servings a month.
All Time Favorites.
Mediterranean: Paella valenciana, Hummus, Grilled fish and vegetables. Japanese: Ramen, Sushi, Edamame beans.
Quick Food Hacks.
Tricks to improve your daily nutrition.
Eat relaxing meals with family and friends. Stress can slow down your metabolism.
Cook food with olive oil instead of butter. This can protect against heart disease.
Swap beer for wine. One glass of red wine per day is proven to reduce risk of heart disease.
Practice 'hara hachi bu', the art of eating until you are 80% full.
Use chopsticks to reduce the size of each bite.
Swap coffee for green tea. It is hugely beneficial and can still give you a caffeine kick.