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9 Healthy Japanese Superfoods

19 December 2019

Japanese cuisine is often considered to be one of the healthiest in the world, and with Japan consistently topping the world life expectancy charts, it seems to be true. With a focus on fresh, seasonal produce, as well as incorporating grain, seafood and soy into many dishes, Japanese cuisine is far less processed than many Western foods, and typically contains less sugar and fat. While Japanese food, in general, is often healthier, there are certain ingredients that really help to boost the health benefits offered by the cuisine. Packed full of nutrients, and offering a wealth of goodness for your body, we take a look at nine Japanese superfoods perfect for a healthy diet.

Matcha

Matcha is a powdered green tea that was traditionally served during tea ceremonies. Now, the powdered tea is used in all sorts of drinks and dishes, from lattes to cakes, and even as the coating for some meat dishes! Green tea as a whole is often seen as a healthier tea, and one cup of matcha contains more antioxidants than ten cups of green tea, revealing its superfood properties. Matcha is said to be great for productivity and concentration, offering a sustained level of caffeine over a few hours without any jitters or crashes as coffee may cause. This is due to the L-Theanine found in matcha, which is also thought to stimulate dopamine in the brain, helping to boost your mood and reduce stress.

Wakame

Wakame is Japanese sea kelp, an ingredient commonly included in salads and soups in Japan. It is packed full of nutrients and is a good source of omega 3, which is thought to reduce the risk of heart disease, arthritis and depression. Wakame has a salty and sweet flavour and is soft in texture.

Miso

Miso is a paste made from fermented soybeans, and its distinctive salty-sweet taste makes it commonly used for adding flavour to dishes. Often used for marinade, gravy and dressing, miso is perhaps most commonly known for miso soup, which uses this paste to flavour the broth. Miso is linked to promoting good gut health, which in turn promotes mental and physical wellness. As well as this, miso is rich in minerals and vitamins, including vitamins B, E and K.

Maitake

A mushroom enjoyed in Japan and China, maitake has a meaty flavour, making it an excellent substitute or addition to stir-fries and rice dishes. The mushroom is currently being studied for its ability to lower blood sugar, boost the immune system and protect against cancer, so this fungus can certainly be considered a superfood.

Daikon

Daikon is a type of Japanese radish that offers a crunchy texture and peppery flavour. Served as part of dishes or as an accompaniment, daikon contains very few calories, but is incredibly nutrient-rich, making it a great healthy addition to dishes. Daikon actually contains more vitamin C than oranges, as well as being a great source of fibre.

Wasabi

Only a small amount of wasabi will be used when included in Japanese cuisine, as this mustard-like ingredient can pack quite a punch. It’s worth the kick though, as wasabi offers antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties, which can help with digestion and eases joint pain.

Umeboshi

Umeboshi is made by pickling unripened Japanese plums, known as ume, in salt and shisho leaves. The plums are cured in this manner for a few months before being dried in the sun. The result of this is an extremely sour and salty bite that is incredibly popular in Japan. Its intense flavour aside, the umeboshi is considered a superfood by those who practise holistic health, as these pickled plums have long been used as a folk remedy for everything from aiding digestion to curing hangovers!

Kabocha

The Japanese variety of squash, kabocha is a healthier choice than the likes of butternut squash or pumpkin, as it contains less carbohydrate and calories. It also has the added bonus of offering a sweeter flavour and smoother texture, making it a great choice for pie, soups and stews. Kabocha is full of beta-carotene, which promotes healthy skin and hair, as well as containing a number of antioxidants, iron and fibre.

Tofu

An ingredient that’s superfood status has seen it become available worldwide; tofu is a very versatile food that can be used in everything from stir fry to cheesecake! Made from soy milk, tofu contains essential amino acids, calcium, iron, vitamins and minerals, making it a great addition to your diet. Tofu is also rich in protein, making it a great meat alternative for vegetarians and vegans.

If you’d like to try out a healthier diet, why not explore the wide variety of Japanese ingredients available at our Japanese supermarket online? From fresh tofu to jars of miso paste, we have everything you need to get started enjoying healthy Japanese cuisine.

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