Nutrition Quick Tip: Eat Like the Okinawans

Goya looks like a bumpy cucumber, but it's actually a bitter melon. It's popular among the Okinawan people.

Want to eat yourself to old age? Consider eating more like the Okinawans.

The southern Japanese Okinawa islands—nicknamed the land of immortals—are reported to have the oldest demographic in the world, and researchers believe it's due to diet.

Okinawan people primarily eat fare lower on the food chain: fish, seaweed, tofu, miso and scores of indigenous vegetables.

Okinawa's purple sweet potatoes are packed with carotenoids, flavonoids, vitamin E and lycopene. Goya, which looks like a bumpy cucumber, is also popular in Okinawa and known for lowering blood sugar. And jasmine tea and turmeric, which are both shown to guard against cancer, are consumed regularly.

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Miso soup reigns at breakfast in Okinawa. Miso contains all the amino acids, making it a complete protein. According to Care2, miso restores beneficial probiotics in the intestines, aids in digestion and strengthens the immune system.

Overall, the Okinawans eat less than other cultures. They practice a principle called "Hara Hachi Bu," which means, "eat until you're 80 percent full," according to Michael Pollen, author of In Defense of Food.

Is the Okinawa diet a magic bullet? Not exactly. Other factors, such as your DNA and the environment, also affect longevity. But adopting some of the Okinawan dietary practices certainly couldn't hurt.

Click here to read more about the Okinawa diet.

More: Why Seaweed Is a Stealth-Health Food

What's your nutrition quick tip? Leave it in the comments or email your tip to nutrition editor Nicole Reino.

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About the Author

Nicole Reino

Nicole Reino is the nutrition editor for She's a yogi, runner, cook and real-foods enthusiast.

Nicole Reino is the nutrition editor for She's a yogi, runner, cook and real-foods enthusiast.

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