Since it is one of the largest islands in Japan, Okinawa is incredibly popular among locals and tourists. The island is also one of the Blue Zones, which means it is one of those areas of the world where people are the healthiest.
Like other blue zones such as Greece and Italy, Okinawa has low rates of diabetes, cancer, and obesity which means its people may live up to 100 years.
Looking at the nutritious diet of the people of Okinawa, it is not surprising to know that Okinawa boasts the most significant number of centenarians in the world.
Let us take a closer look at the Okinawa diet and its benefits.
What Is the Okinawa Diet?
The most crucial thing to know is that the Okinawa diet is more like a lifestyle than a diet.
Okinawans consider meat as a condiment rather than eat it as the main course. That’s one of the reasons why we find seafood and meat on the Okinawa diet plan, in limited quantities. The diet is low in calories and high in nutrients and is primarily plant-based.
The main ingredients of this diet include green and yellow vegetables such as bell peppers, pumpkins, seaweed, and bitter melon. Since the food is high in carotenoids, it strengthens immunity and lowers inflammation. The diet also includes generous servings of mushrooms and tofu. While you can eat rice when you are on the Okinawa diet, the Japanese prefer purple or yellow sweet potatoes, as the chief source of carbs.
Another exciting thing that you should know about this diet is the 80/20 rule. According to this rule, people in Okinawa do not aim to eat until they are full but eat just enough to feel satiated.
Benefits of the Okinawa Diet
An average American consumes around 2,000 calories a day whereas people in Okinawa usually eat 1,200 per day. Consuming this plant-based diet can reduce inflammation, and our immunity becomes strong enough to fight against infections and viruses.
The diet has a high amount of vegetables and fruits. You get plenty of antioxidants, vitamins, and fiber to improve digestion and protect us against several diseases.
However, the most notable benefit of this diet is its impact on lifespan. The island is home to more centenarians than anywhere else in the world. Okinawans live longer and experience fewer illnesses such as cancer, heart disease, and diabetes.
What makes the Okinawa Diet Plan so Effective for Weight Loss?
Since this diet is a traditional eating style of inhabitants of the Okinawa islands, the diet limits the consumption of processed foods. It mainly includes seafood and vegetables. Okinawans consume moderate portions and treat food as a source of energy and medicine. Root vegetables, buckwheat soba noodles, and sweet potatoes are some of the most popular foods of this diet. Most of the fat in the menu come from healthy fat sources such as Omega-3 from fish.
Other common foods of the Okinawa diet that help reduce weight include:
- Leafy green vegetables such as cabbage
- Soyfoods such as miso paste and tofu
- Seaweed and seafood such as hijiki and kombu
- Bitter-melon and shiitake mushrooms
- Jasmine tea which boosts metabolism
Okinawans are not fond of eating desserts, sweets, or added oils. They may enjoy sugary treats on special occasions only. A large variety of their dishes are stir-fried or steamed, which means it is a wonder diet to lose weight, the healthy way. The seasonings used in the food offer plenty of flavour and health benefits without adding any extra calories. You can add fennel seeds, Okinawan peppers, mugwort, and turmeric to season your dishes.
In addition to that, the Okinawan lifestyle emphasizes adopting mindful eating practices and daily physical activity, all great for maintaining a healthy weight.
Okinawa Diet Plan
Sample Diet Meal Plan
- Breakfast: ½ sweet potato and an egg
- Snack: apple with peanut butter, tofu with yellow pepper
- Lunch: rice with broccoli, lentils, or soybeans
- Snack: miso soup, miso soup with carrots, radish, tofu, seaweed salad
- Dinner: pumpkin, spinach, brown rice, and lentils
- Late-night snack: soymilk
Okinawa Diet Recipes
Okinawan Spinach With White Sesame Oil and Scrambled Eggs (For 2-3 people)
- Okinawan Spinach/Handama: 250 g
- Eggs: 2
- Garlic: 2 (minced)
- Carrots: 2 (julienned)
- Sesame Oil: 1 teaspoon
- White sesame seeds: 2 teaspoons (toasted)
- Chicken stock: 1 cup
- Cook oil: to taste
Wash the spinach and throw away any wilted or spoilt leaves. Be careful to use only tender stems and shoots. Let it dry.
Take a deep pan or a wok and add some cooking oil. When it becomes hot, add in the garlic and stir a bit. Add the spinach and the carrots and give it a quick stir.
Make sure the wok is hot to reduce the cooking time, so you don’t destroy the vitamins in the spinach. Now create a hole in the center and crack the eggs into this space. As soon as the eggs become opaque, stir the mixture using a spatula to break the eggs apart. The wok is hot so you must stir quickly.
Now add the chicken stock and stir this mixture to mix everything. Dish out and sprinkle some toasted sesame seeds on top. Serve it hot after spooning some sesame oil around the spinach.
Okinawa Island Clam Miso Soup
- Fresh ginger: 1 teaspoon (peeled and grated)
- Dashi: 2 cups
- Water: 2 cups
- Fresh clams: 18 pieces
- Sweet white miso: 3 tablespoons
- Red miso: 1 tablespoon
- Soy sauce: 1 tablespoon
- Wakame seaweed: 1 tablespoon
- Tofu: 1 tablespoon
- Green onion: 1 small (thinly sliced)
Mix the water and the Dashi in a large pot. Heat it over medium heat and let it cook until it starts to boil. Let it boil for five minutes. Now add the clams and let it simmer until the clams open. You can discard the clams that don’t open. Place the clams in a bowl and remove meat from shells. Keep shells and meat separately. You can use a filter to strain the broth for returning it to the rinsed pot.
Take a bowl and combine the red miso and the white miso along with the soya sauce together. Let the broth boil and simmer. Add ¼ cup broth to miso and stir enough to dissolve miso. Whisk miso into the broth pot. Keep warm over medium or low heat and add grated ginger juice to the broth.
You can plate by placing one clamshell in a bowl and placing clam meat in each shell. Don’t forget to sprinkle around the wakame seaweed and tofu. Use green onions to garnish the soup and serve it hot.
Okinawa Stir-Fry Noodles
- Dried thin white noodles: 300 grams
- Chives or scallions: 60 grams
- Soy sauce: 3-1/2 tablespoons
- Salt: a pinch
- Bonito flakes: to taste (optional)
- Salad oil: 2 tablespoons
- Water: 4 litres
Chop the chives (or scallions). Take a pan and pour 4 litres of water in the pan. Let it boil before adding the dried noodles. Boil for two to three minutes. Strain the noodles and wash them with cold water, so excess starch washes away.
Take a frying pan and heat the salad oil. Sear the noodles on medium heat. Now add the soy sauce and salt. Stir for a couple of minutes before dishing out. Sprinkle the bonito flakes and the chives over the top.
Thanks to a plethora of benefits, the Okinawa longevity diet is one of the healthiest diets you can follow for living a happier and healthier life. The diet revolves around consuming unprocessed and whole foods, along with consuming high amounts of water. The diet is rich in carbs and fat but lower in calories.
This diet offers plenty of benefits in terms of weight loss. For that reason, you can follow the Okinawa diet for losing weight the natural and healthy way.