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The Okinawan Diet

The Okinawan diet is named after a region in Japan which has the highest percentage of centenarions in the world.  The average life expectancy of Okinawans is higher than in most Western countries.  Many have attributed this to their diet and their attitude to food.   This diet has adopted many aspects of the Okinawan diet and adapted them to an easy-to-follow way of eating.


Weight-loss:   The average body mass index (BMI) of Okinawan people is 20 which is the lower end of the healthy spectrum.  The diet also includes a small number of calories but still enough to remain healthy.

Plenty of fruit and vegetables:  The Okinawan diet involves eating a lot of fruit and vegetables.  Ensure that you eat green, orange and yellow (GOY) fruit and vegetables as they all have different health benefits.  It also provides much more variety to your diet.

Not all rice:  Many believe that the Japanese diet includes a lot of rice.  While there is some rice in this diet it is recommended that you only have a little, and that is the same for all grains.  The Okinawans preferred carbohydrate is the purple sweet potato but all starchy carbs are good for our bodies.

Meat is included:  The Okinawan diet does include meat and seafood but only in small amounts.  It is recommended that some of your meals are completely vegetarian while others can include a small amount of meat or fish.  Also ensure that you are buying good quality meat.

Portion size is not the focus:  The Okinawan diet does not focus on the size of your portion but rather, mindful eating.  They believe you should consume food until you are 80% full. Therefore, if you are still hungry you should eat more.   As you lose weight your portion sizes will probably get smaller without you even realising.

You will be getting all you need:  The Okinawan diet does not completely cut out any of the food groups but just encourages you to have some in small amounts.  This means you will be getting all the nutrients and vitamins you need to stay healthy and you won’t have to take any supplements.


Cutting back on dairy:  The Okinawan diet does allow you to have limited dairy products but try to use almond or coconut milk as an alternative to cow’s milk.  However, perhaps that’s not so bad, as much of the cow’s milk available to us contains a lot of sugar or loses many of its nutrients through the pasteurization process.

Much of the meat in the Okinawan diet is pork:  Many people, for religious or health reasons, do not eat pork and this may lower your meat intake on this diet.  Okinawans also believe in eating the whole pig including its internal organs.

It will be hard to follow initially:   Many initially find it hard to have such small amounts of meat, dairy and grains.  The suggestion is to introduce one new vegetable a week.  Also, do not cut back on all other foods at once.  Begin by cutting back on meat and then move onto dairy and grains.

Conclusion: The Okinawan diet is primarily plant based but does allow small amounts of other foods too.  Evidence does suggest that following the Okinawan diet will prolong one’s life, especially when coupled with a healthy lifestyle which includes regular exercise.  The average life expectancy of those in the Okinawan region is more than those in the rest of Japan and considerably more than those in the Western world.  It may be a diet that will be hard to follow initially but there are many proven health benefits to be had when following the Okinawan diet.