The Okinawa Diet: Eating and Living to 100
Okinawa is one of the blue zones regions and has some of the highest life expectancy rates in the world. So what are they eating? Most people assume fish. In the NutritionFacts video below, Dr. Michael Greger breaks down the traditional diet of Okinawa, home to some of the longest-living people in the world.
It turns out that it’s whole plant foods, not fish, that make up 90 percent of the traditional Okinawan diet: Less than 1 percent of the diet was fish; less than 1 percent was meat; and less than 1 percent was dairy and eggs. Most of the diet was based on vegetables and beans, with the most calories coming from purple and orange sweet potatoes. It’s not only a highly anti-inflammatory diet but also a highly antioxidant one.
Okinawans who eat this way don’t only live the longest, they are also extremely healthy into old age, with:
- 6-12 times fewer heart disease deaths than the United States
- 2-3 times fewer colon cancer deaths than the United States
- 7 times fewer prostate cancer deaths than the United States
- 5.5 times lower risk of dying from breast cancer than the United States
Unfortunately, fast food and Western styles of eating have made it to the island, and younger generations are no longer reaping the health benefits of eating the traditional Okinawan way.
Hara hachi bu: Okinawans recite this phrase before every meal. It reminds them to eat to 80 percent full, instead of stuffing themselves.