Thursday, March 18, 2010

Feature: I Think We're Turning Japanese...

*This is a media peice I wrote for part of my English Language As Level Coursework*

Yo Sushi. Wagamamas. Wok Wok. Here in the U.K it is impossible not to notice our infatuation with Japanese food- with these massive chain restaurants dominating our high streets, and sushi being found in almost every shop and café. But have you ever had a go at making any dishes from this wide and varied cuisine yourself?

Japan has the lowest obesity levels and also the highest life expectancy rate in the entire world, and some say that it’s their diet that helps them to achieve this. Recently, many people have been adopting a Japanese diet in order to improve certain aspects of their health, such as cholesterol levels, high blood pressure and weight gain. A book that has assisted in the promotion of this traditional and healthy way of eating is “Japanese Women Don’t Get Old or Fat” by Naomi Moriyama and William Doyle.

Here the author speaks about the “Seven pillars of Japanese home cooking” these being the seven main ingredients that Japanese cuisine is based upon. Here they are, with the health benefits:

1- Fish: Fish is a great food that is full of protein and nutrient, but also low in fat. Particular “oily fish” such as salmon, mackerel, sardines or tuna contain Omega 3 essential fatty acids that are proven to aid in maintaining a healthy heart.

2 and 3- Fruit and Vegetables: From a young age we are always told to “eat our greens” , and we all know how good fruit and vegetables are for us. They are a good source of vitamins, nutrients and antioxidants, and also act as a fantastic source of fibre- which keeps you full of energy. The Japanese are particularly fond of spinach, peppers, aubergines, mushrooms, carrots, beans and various sea vegetables. And fruit-wise, peaches, plums, apples and orange are especial favourites.

4- Rice: Nutritionally, rice is a very good source of carbohydrates. In Japan, it is usually served plain, unlike many carbohydrates we cook here (the more dense and calorific bread and pasta), that we cover in butter, oil or creamy sauces. The Japanese traditionally use "japonica" rice- a short grain variety that has a sticky or glutinous texture.

5- Soya: Now when I mention soya, I hope you don’t conjure images of hemp t shirts, pots of boiling lentils and sandal wearing hippies. Soya, including items such as edamame beans, tofu and miso paste, are absolutely delicious additions to any Asian dishes, as well as a good source of low fat protein.

6- Noodles: The main types of noodles eaten in Japan are soba, udon, ramen and somen. Their noodles, unlike traditional Chinese noodles, are made without egg, which is a healthier alternative as eggs contain saturated fat- something that is not common to the Japanese diet, due to the small amount of animal products they consume.

7- Tea: The relaxation and health benefits of having a cuppa may be even more than you think. Studies show that green tea in particular is high in antioxidants, can reduce the risks of certain cancers, lowers cholesterol levels and increases metabolism.

Now that you know about the health benefits you can glean from the Japanese diet, why don’t you grab a wok and start cooking? Here is a delicious, healthy, and beautiful recipe for you to cook at home, shown below this article:

1 comment:

  1. We love japanese food. My OH particularly likes sushi which I regularly make for him as I don't like that; but it's so much fun to make yourself.

    Also, very few japanese women suffer the menopause due to the high levels of soy in their diet!