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Japan Diet Promotes Healthy Heart

Rich in Omega-3 fatty acids and unsaturated fats, the Japanese diet could help keep your heart healthy and avoid heart disease according to a new study. WLR guest writer, Cara Frost-Sharratt takes a look at the foods that make up the Japan Diet and how to add them into your weekly meal plan.

Japan Diet Promotes Healthy Heart

By WLR Guest Writer, Cara Frost-Sharratt

A study that has been published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology has claimed that the Japanese diet could help protect against heart disease.

Fish in Japanese Diet

The Japanese eat a lot of fish, which contains essential Omega-3 fatty acids and this is believed to account for the relatively low instances of heart disease in the country.

While anything containing the word ‘fat’ is generally considered a no-go area by dieters, these particular fats are unsaturated and should therefore be treated completely differently to the saturated or ‘bad’ fats found in things like biscuits and crisps.

Omega 3 Fatty Acids

To prove the point, it has been discovered that, on average, middle-aged Japanese men have twice the amount of Omega-3 fatty acids in their blood as their American counterparts. This represents a significant difference and provides genuine cause for further studies to be undertaken on the long-term effects of diet on a person’s lifestyle and propensity to develop certain conditions.

WLR says . . .

While studies are continually coming out relating to different aspects of diet and nutrition, this seems to be pretty conclusive evidence that simple changes to diet and attitude can really have a positive impact on your health.

If you’ve ever eaten in a Japanese restaurant you might have noticed that you leave at the end of a meal without that bloated feeling that often accompanies other types of food.

Low Fat Japanese Food

Although filling and satisfying, the cuisine is generally low in fat, as it centres on fish and rice, with plenty of fresh vegetables. The Japanese don’t tend to eat a lot of red meat or highly processed foods, both of which can result in that uncomfortable feeling of being bloated after a big meal out.

These are also more commonly eaten in many countries with a higher rate of heart disease – think pizza, steaks and burgers.  

Exchange Meat For Fish

A simple exchange of meat for fish once or twice a week would be enough to make a real difference to your Omega-3 levels. Many people avoid fish for the simple reason that they have never cooked it before and just aren’t sure what to do with it. However, with such a variety of fish and seafood now available in supermarkets, there’s no excuse not to give it a try.

Quick Ideas for a Fish Fix:

  • Spread some green pesto over salmon steaks for the last couple of minutes of cooking time.
  • Mix a little reduced fat crème fraîche with a smoked mackerel fillet for a delicious sandwich filling, or spread on toast for a quick snack.
  • Make a quick pasta sauce with a grilled trout fillet, chopped up with some sun-dried tomatoes. Mix in a small tub of reduced fat crème fraîche and stir into freshly cooked pasta.
  • Fill your jacket potato with a mixture of tuna chunks, chopped red onion, chopped red pepper and some finely chopped capers.
  • Swap that Sunday leg of lamb for a whole salmon once in a while. It’s absolutely delicious slow-cooked and makes a stunning centerpiece if you have guests for lunch.
  • Cooked frozen prawns are a quick and easy stand-by. Defrost thoroughly before use and add them to risottos, stir-fries, curries or sandwiches.

And don’t forget, it’s not just fish that contains high levels of Omega-3. Other good sources include nuts, egg yolks and leafy green vegetables. So, there’s no excuse for not getting sufficient amounts in your diet, it just a little bit of forward planning. For more inspiration and some authentic Japanese recipe ideas, check out The Japan Diet.

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