Kitchen Tips

Are these Japanese Ingredients the Secret to a Long life?

Fancy living until you’re 115? Well, for the people of Okinawa, a tiny Japanese island, hitting 100 years of age has become the norm. The reason? The Okinawa diet is rich in soy products, seaweed and vegetables (particularly sweet potatoes), with very little meat, wheat or dairy products.

Give your body a wellbeing boost this winter by stocking up on these virtuous Japanese ingredients.

Sweet potatoes

Naturally low GI, sweet potatoes are packed with vitamin A from beta-carotene, vitamin C and vitamin B6, plus they’re a good source of iron, potassium, fibre and niacin. We love them roasted in the oven then scattered with shichimi togarashi (Japanese seven-spice pepper), or in a light and crisp tempura batter.

Tempura recipe


For a mineral hit, you can’t go past the health benefits of seaweed. Rich in iodine, calcium, iron and magnesium, it’s the ideal addition to your diet, especially for vegetarians. Seaweed also contains more vitamin C than oranges, and possesses anti-viral properties, ideal for keeping winter colds at bay. As a bonus, it’s also great for weight management. Try this tofu and wakame udon noodle soup.



Where you like popping edamame pods, simmering a pot of miso soup, or eating tofu in a range of recipes, the health benefits of soybeans are just what you need this winter. Get your fix of fibre, calcium, B vitamins and omega-3s with this versatile bean.

Miso Soup Recipe

Shiitake mushrooms

Another popular meat substitute, mushrooms are brimming with iron and protein, plus they’re low in calories. Get to know your Asian mushrooms here, or try this tasty recipe for crisp salad with mushrooms, tofu and soba noodles.

Crisp Salad with Mushrooms Tofu and Soba Noodles


Golden-hued turmeric isn’t generally associated with Japanese cuisine, but the people of Okinawa love it for its health-giving benefits. It’s believed to be a powerful anti-cancer agent and anti-inflammatory, and may even help slow the progression of dementia. Try this easy Japanese beef curry, or read 10 reasons why Japanese people love curry!

Japanese Beef Curry recipe

Brown rice

When the people of Okinawa do eat grains, they reach for those that are low-Gi (rather than high-GI white rice and processed wheat products). Nutty and nutritious, brown rice makes a great addition to your favourite stir-fry or served with this Japanese wasabi beef yakiniku.

Japanese Wasabi Yakiniku Beef on Rice Recipe

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