The money spent by the Americans to stay healthier, for the prevention and treatment of diseases came to nearly $2 trillion in 2004. But they could have saved a lot of that money if they took a (slow) boat to China and copied the diet people in China and Japan are following. The result should be a much lower rate of heart disease and cancer than the Americans are experiencing these days. |
The traditional Asian diet has been called the healthiest in the world. It is simple and satisfying and consists of rice, noodles, breads as the foundation, added with some bok choy, mushrooms,and other fruits and vegetables. The diet also includes beans, seeds, nuts, fish, eggs and poultry. A few sweets and occasionally some meat.
It is easy to include foods found in the Asian diet into our own meal plans, without having to explore unfamiliar dishes. There is not a lot of meat in the Asian diet, which is the most important ingredient in the American diet In China, for example, people eat an average of 4 pounds of meat per year. In Japan a bit more: 23 pounds of beef and veal per year. The average American, in contrast, eat more than 60 pounds of beef plus chicken, pork and other kind of meats.
Benefits of Soy Apart from the absence of meat there is another ingredient that makes the Asian diet so healthy. It's the use of soy products. They eat about 3 to 4 ounces a day of tempeh, tofu, defatted soy flour, and more.
There are several reasons why soy foods are so healthful. They are rich in a group of natural compounds, called phytoestrogens, which the body converts into hormone like substances that act like a weak form of estrogen. These faux estrogens block the body's estrogen receptors, lowering the amount of estrogen in the body. This may help lowering the risk of breast cancer in premenopausal women, particularly iff they have been eating soy foods since an early age, but studies are inconclusive.
Later in life, the phytoestrogens in soy may ease menopausal symptoms such as hot flashes, but not vaginal dryness by replacing the esstrogen lost during this time. In fact, Asian women seldom experience hot flashes. Asian women are also less likely than American women to have heart disease, which may be due to the low-fat, high-fiber nature of soy, not the phytoestrogens.
Natural Goodness The National Cancer Institute tells us to eat five or more fruits and vegetables each day. And nutritionists suggest to get the Daily Value of 25 grams of fiber instead of the 11 to 12 grams most of us get each day.
The Asian diet, which is rich in fresh fruits, vegetables, and other fiber rich foods, is on the cutting edge and sets an enviable standard. In China, for example, people get 33 grams of fiber every day. That's serious heart protection, according to researchers at the Harvard School of Public Health. In a 6 year study of almost 41,000 men, they found that those who increased their daily fiber intake by just 10 grams, were able to decrease their risk of heart disease by almost 30%.
Each day, the average Okinawan eats seven servings of vegetables, two to four servings of fruits, and seven servings of grains. These fruits and vegetables are also rich sources of vitamin C, carotenoids(including beta-carotene), and other antioxidant compounds that help protect the body from disease. People who eat a lot of plant-based foods tend to have lower rates of chronic diseases, like heart disease and cancer.
A Cup of Healthy Tea After you had a meal in a Chinese restaurant, order a pot of tea. At home, make some tea after you had your meal. Asians drink a lot of tea, which explains their robust good health.
Tea contains potent antioxidants called phenols, which protect the body from disease. In a study involving 552 men, researchers in the Netherlands found that those who drank about 5 cups of black tea a day had about one-third the risk of stroke of those drinking fewer than 2 ½ cup. Green tea, the kind that is favorite in Eastern countries, has even more antioxidants than black tea.
A study on green tea conducted at the University of Minesota found that those who drank the most green tea had a 22% lower risk of breast cancer. Several studies from Japan and China have shown an association between greater green tea consumption and lower risk of stomach cancer. And laboratory studies have found evidence that suggests that green tea can help lower the risk of prostate cancer.
In the world of antioxidants, the phenols in tea are “absolute equisite,” says Gary Stoner, PhD, professor and cancer researcher at Ohio State University in Columbus.
Fishy Business On the islands of Japan and Okinawa, people eat a lot of fish. Numerous studies show that eating even small amounts of fish as little as 3 ounces per week, provide powerful protection. “Fish contains fats that thin the blood and help prevent heart disease”, says Dr. McDougall.
According to the Journal of the American Medical Association, the omega-3 fatty acids in oily fish, like salmon, mackerel and sardines, can help lower your blood pressure and heart rate. Omega-3s also reduce your risk of heart disease, may lower your risk of stroke, and may help protect you from cognitive decline in your later years. Another way fish can help protect your heart by providing a good source of protein without the saturated fat that you'd get from red meat.
Don't Overeat The Okinawans use the phrase: “hara hachi bu”, which means only eating until you are 80% full. Using this principle helps you avoid overeating and taking in unnecessary calories at a meal. It's also a useful tool for keeping yourself at a normal weight and avoiding the added risk for cancer and heart disease that obesity can cause.
Related Articles -
health, Asian diet, antioxidants, estrogens, omega-3, carotenoids, phenols,