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5 Top Longevity Foods

Updated: Oct 5, 2023

Japan is home to the world’s longest-living people. Here's what a Japanese nutritionist says they eat every day.

Slices of tuna on a black slate tray

Ippei Naoi grew up in Japan, where he was taught from a young age to think of food as medicine. The country is home to some of the world’s longest-living people: There are now 90,526 centenarians, or people aged 100 and above.

As a nutritionist who follows a traditional Japanese diet, here are five foods Ippei Naoi and his family eat every day to stay healthy and live longer.

Miso Soup: The Japanese diet contains a variety of dishes containing fermented foods, and miso soup is a popular one. Miso is a paste made from fermented soybeans and grains. The probiotics, live bacteria or yeast in fermented foods can help balance our gut health and boost the immune system.

Fish: Ippei Naoi always includes some protein in his daily diet, especially fatty fish like salmon and tuna. The omega-3 fats in fish can help lower blood pressure, lower triglycerides, and ease inflammation. In Japan, they often say “itadakimasu,” which translates to “I humbly receive,” before meals to show our appreciation for the animals and farmers. He believes this practice of mindful eating contributes to our health and quality of life.

Daikon Radishes: Root vegetables are popular in Japanese cooking and provide a host of unique health benefits. Daikon radishes have been known to help prevent colds and boost the immune system. One radish contains 124 percent of the daily recommended intake of vitamin C. Other healthy root vegetables (that may be easier to find in grocery stores) include carrots, beets, parsnips and turnips.

Japanese Sweet Potatoes: Hailing from Okinawa, these purple sweet potatoes (called “imo” in Japanese) are often eaten as a snack or dessert. They are rich in healthy carbohydrates and anthocyanins, a group of antioxidants found in red and purple vegetables that contain anti-aging properties. Studies have also shown they can help improve blood sugar levels and reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease.

Seaweed: Seaweed is rich in important minerals such as iron, calcium, folate and magnesium.

Eating it every day helps add fiber to your diet. Seaweed also contains antioxidants which have anti-inflammatory, anti-aging and anti-cancer properties.

Bowl of tumeric


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