These nutrient-rich foods are part of a traditional cuisine that is renowned for being both tasty and wholesome. They have numerous health and beauty benefits such as lowering cholesterol and blood pressure and controlling blood sugar levels, and they are great for gut health, weight loss, youthful skin and beautiful hair. The even better news is that you can easily incorporate tasty and beneficial ancient Japanese superfoods such as amazake, azuki, daikon and wasabi into your everyday meals rather than relying only on Japanese meals.
It is now time to learn from ancient wisdom and incorporate real Japanese super foods to your daily meals. So what is it that makes Japanese superfoods so amazing?
Japanese superfoods are nutritious yet low calorie foods that were used popularly as medicines in ancient times.
They are also mostly alkaline foods, and an alkaline body (technically alkalinity in our blood) is essential for optimal health. When our blood is overly acidic, we are most prone to sickness and obesity.
It is very easy to get an acidic body since stress and exercise can cause a build up of acid. All animal products (meat, fish etc), carbs such as rice, pasta, bread, and drinks like coffee and alcohol, not to mention processed food and junk food, are all acidic.
So it is very important to neutralise the body with alkaline foods to bring it back to its preferred balance.
Green vegetables are a fabulous way to do this, but why not add variety to your diet since eating lots of vegetables can be a struggle and some of the Japanese superfoods you will learn about are tremendously powerful in comparison.
For example, Konnyaku (aka konjac) has the highest alkalinity levels in any food that I have ever known.
Let’s talk about one of these Japanese superfoods, Matcha green tea.
Matcha green tea
Matcha is a bright, green tea powder traditionally used for tea ceremonies.
It is the product of finely milled dried tencha, which is a special whole green tealeaf that is kept shaded for 20 days before harvesting. This process increases the amount of L- Theanine, which is responsible for increased mental clarity and focus. It also contains chlorophyll, which gives the leaves more detoxing power and creates a clear resonating note of the unique umami flavors, the natural form of MSG.
With its various anti-ageing health and beauty benefits that derive from boosting the immune system and heart health, it should become a staple in our diet. However, we must eat wisely to gain the health and beauty benefits.
Here are three action steps to eat Japanese for health and beauty!
1. Use REAL Japanese superfoods
It is wonderful that we can purchase Japanese ingredients easily in Australia but there are also many inferior products available in both Japan and Australia. Even Japanese people find it hard to get real Japanese superfoods because people read the packaging and not the label.
Go to health food stores rather than Asian grocery stores to easily buy authentic Japanese superfoods. Just make sure they are Product of Japan.
For matcha green tea, choose organic, ceremony grade, stone ground products.
Non-Japanese green tea goes through different processes, which reduce the amount of anti-oxidants and non-umami flavor to leave pure bitterness. That is why you see fruit infused green tea in the market to reduce the bitterness.
2. Eat at home not at Japanese restaurants
Many people choose Japanese meals to become healthier and lose weight but most people don’t realise that the meals served at most Japanese restaurants in Australia are far from our traditional Japanese meals.
They contain much more sugar and fat and contain none to very small amounts of Japanese superfoods.
Cook more meals at home using Japanese superfoods!
3. Cook wisely to get maximum health benefits
There are many ways to get maximum benefits from Japanese superfoods by simply knowing what we are eating. This will help you avoid certain things because healthy components are destroyed when they are in a certain condition.
For example, matcha green tea has many health benefits and they are mostly because of catechins, powerful flavonoid polyphenol compounds (antioxidants). The University of Kansas has found catechins to be 100 times more potent than Vitamin C and 25 times more potent than Vitamin E.
Two of the tea catechins, epicatechin and epigalloca techingallate (EGCG), have an impressive history of research. EGCG is a strong antioxidant and Matcha contains the highest amount (60% of tea catechins) of EGCG compared to other green teas. This makes Matcha one of the most powerful free radical scavengers in the world.
Drinking matcha lattes or eating green tea icecream prevents you from getting the benefits of EGCG since cow milk inhibits absorption of EGCG.
Avoid having matcha green tea with dairy milk, and switch to non-dairy options such as soymilk. You can also maximise your EGCG absorption by taking matcha green tea with protein and vitamin C.
There are so many tips for cooking without losing their amazing health benefits or buying REAL Japanese superfoods that are helpful to our health.
If you want to learn more about Japanese superfoods, please come and join my cooking classes filled with Japanese superfoods or check out my Japanese Superfoods cookbook!
Enjoy these two simple but gorgeous recipes from Yoshiko over summer...
Yoshiko Takeuchi is an experienced chef, health researcher, Managing Director of Cooking with Yoshiko and currently runs cooking classes using Japanese superfoods at Bondi Junction in Sydney. Her internationally published books Cooking with Soy and Japanese Superfoods are available from major book retailers and online.