Old Japanese lady in traditional clothing portrait smiling and doing peace sign in a historical reenactment at Toei studios in Kyoto.

2 minReading time

Everyone strives to live as long as possible and we are always searching for ways of making it happen. We all know that Japan has the highest life expectancy in the world but the population of Okinawa, an island near China that belongs to Japan, where the current population is around 1.3 million people, has even more impressive results. There the life expectancy is 81,2 years.

But how the heck are they able to live so long? Researchers say it is because of their diet.

What is the diet all about? Japanese family dining together with happiness

The Okinawa diet is an attempt to mimic the island’s traditional foods and eating habits before western influences arrived. The diet consists mainly of carbohydrates that come from vegetables, with only a small amount of grains or seeds, and no sugar or refined sweets. There is only a little bit of red meat and a minimal amount of dairy. Fish is consumed in moderation, and alcohol consumption is limited to an occasional drink.

OK… and what does that mean in detail? Okinawan cuisine, Bitter melon stir fried

Typical foods in this diet include sweet potatoes, soy, bitter melon, shiitake mushrooms, burdock, jasmine tea, seaweed, seitan, rice noodles, soba noodle, rice, taro root, hechima, okra, shikwasa, garlic, tomato, shima rakkyo, tofu, miso, papaya, passion fruit, guava, and a fascinating array of herbs and spices.

Why does this diet work so well? Homemade Asian Tofu Soba Noodle Bowl with Onions and Peanuts

The diet is low in calories and high in fibers, which is a great way to lose and maintain weight and helps to avoid serious diseases. It is rich of antioxidants and nutrition, which boosts your health. Low in fat and sugar but rich in vegetables and seafood. According to research all of these factors together improve your health, which prolongs your life expectancy.

Would you like to try it? 

Start by eating some vegetables, mostly the ones that are deeply green or brightly coloured. There is no need to eat exactly the same as we listed. Outside Asia some of the food items can be very hard to find or very expensive. Choose soy or soy foods. Swap meat for fish and always add more veggies. Don’t forget to eat mushrooms, it doesn’t matter what type!

Good luck and feel free to share your experience with us!

Health foodie from Brazil living in Stockholm. When not photographing food, I'm continuously trying to perfect the art of making ramen.

All posts by Jhady Arana