Okinawa Diet

Okinawa Diet

Okinawa Diet – The Asian Centenarian's Secrets

The island of Okinawa in Japan has a larger percentage of centenarians than any other part of the world.  For this reason, many people are interested in taking a closer look at the diet and lifestyle of older Okinawans.  The results of this study have been published as The Okinawa Program.

According to, the Okinawa diet “brings you a unique approach to healthy living, weight loss and longevity.”  You will learn to eat the right carbs, fats, and proteins. You will be able to eat as much or more than you do now without hunger by combining a blend of foods from the East and the West.  Even though you will not be hungry, you will still be consuming fewer calories than on a traditional Western diet.  The weight you lose will come from body fat in particular, not over all body weight.

The Okinawa Diet offers two pyramids to help you make good food choices.  The first pyramid is a traditional food pyramid advocating eating certain amounts of different foods.  The base of the pyramid is divided between rice, beans, noodles, and other whole grains – and vegetables.  7-13 servings of each group is recommended each day.  You should eat 2-4 servings from each of the following groups: fruits, flavonoids (often referred to as antioxidants), and dairy.  1-3 servings of Omega 3 foods such as white fish, nuts, and seeds are to be eaten daily, and only 1-2 Tablespoons of oils and condiments.  The top layers of the pyramid are to be eaten only weekly.  These are 0-7 servings of meat, red fish, poultry, and eggs and 0-3 servings of sweets and desserts.  You should drink tea every day, and wine may be enjoyed in moderation.

The second pyramid makes your food choices even easier by dividing foods by their caloric densities.  Obviously foods with high caloric density should be eaten in smaller amounts than those with low density.  Citrus fruits, low calorie vegetables, seaweed, and light tofu are all foods with low caloric density that can be eaten as often as you wish.  These are considered feather weight foods.  Next are light weight foods that can be enjoyed in moderation.  Some examples of light weight foods are turkey breast, shrimp, sweet potatoes, cooked white grain rice, low fat yogurt, and white flaky fish.  Pay attention to portion size when eating middle weight foods like bread, soy cheese and ice cream, hummus, lean meat, and red fatty fish.  Heavy weight foods like chocolate, cheese, nuts, oils, and bakery treats should only be eaten sparingly.

If you are looking for a diet plan that doesn’t require a lot of calorie counting, but does still give you food options, then the Okinawa Diet food pyramids can be a helpful resource.

Martin Nicholson, on the website Slism, lists five foods to eat if you really want to eat like an authentic Okinawan.  These foods are not found in our typical Western diets.  Luffa is a vegetable that takes a long time to mature and can only be found in certain climates.  It is high in folate and vitamin K and is often eaten in side dishes or with Okinawan Tofu.

Okinawan Tofu is different from the Japanese Tofu we usually eat in the US.  It is much harder than the tofu we usually find and is sold in larger blocks. It stays solid after cooking, and is used to make Chanpuru, an Okinawan stir fry dish.

Soba noodles are eaten often in Okinawa, but just like tofu, they are a bit different than the soba noodles eaten on the mainland.  Like all soba noodles, they are made from buckwheat, however Okinawan soba noodles are thicker and eaten like ramen.  They are usually cooked with small cubes of pork meat.

The Goya is a bitter melon that is difficult to eat raw, and tastes bitter even when cooked.  It is sometimes consumed as a tea.  Okinawans do include it in their stir-fry.  It is an excellent food for fat burning.

When Americans typically think of a Japanese diet, we think of seaweed so it is no surprise that the remaining food you should eat to follow a pure Okinawan diet is Mozuku, which is a type of seaweed that is found in abundance in Okinawa.  Mozuku burns belly fat in particular, so is an excellent food to eat when trying to get ready for the beach.

Eating these foods combined with regular exercise will more than likely give you good health, and even increase your life expectancy.

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