View Full Version : The 6 Healthiest Staple Foods in Japanese Cuisine

24-08-2010, 13:49

Japanese cuisine relies heavily on the surrounding ocean -- seafood including fish, octopus, squid, crab, clams, shrimp, lobster and seaweed is a staple part of many meals.

Even more standard than seafood, though, is steamed white rice, which is eaten with just about every meal. Beef, noodles and spices like ginger, soy sauce, wasabi (Japanese horseradish), rice wine and rice vinegar are other essential ingredients.

Japanese food is often regarded as one of the healthiest cuisines in the world, but here we've highlighted the best of the best when it comes to traditional Japanese cooking. And don't miss the recipes below to try some of these tasty foods tonight.

1. Miso

Miso is a fermented soybean paste. After fermenting for a number of weeks to years, depending on variety, miso comes out with a texture similar to peanut butter, and a strong, salty flavor. It is used as a condiment, a flavoring agent and to make the popular miso soup.

Health Benefits: Miso contains many trace minerals including zinc, manganese, and copper, which help to strengthen the immune system, boost energy, and protect bones and blood vessels. It is also a rich source of protein -- one tablespoon has 2 grams of protein and just 25 calories.

Studies have also found that substances in miso help reduce the risk of breast cancer. Note: Miso is high in sodium, so it may not be appropriate for those on low-sodium diets.

2. Seaweed

Seaweeds like kelp, wakame, arame and dulse are commonly used to make Japanese salads and are added to soups, stews and other dishes. Seaweed is also used as a wrap for sushi. Seaweed tastes similar to leafy green vegetables, with an underlying salty, sea flavor.

Health Benefits: Seaweed contains the broadest range of minerals of any food -- the same minerals found in the ocean and in human blood, such as potassium, calcium, magnesium, iron, and iodine.

Seaweed also contains vitamin C, fiber, beta-carotene, and pantothenic acid and riboflavin -- two B-vitamins needed for your body to produce energy.

3. Natto

Natto is made from fermented soybeans and is a common breakfast food in Japan. It has a strong smell -- somewhat like a strong cheese -- and a sticky texture, and is often eaten with rice, soy sauce and chopped green onion.

Health Benefits: Natto is an excellent source of protein, vitamin B2, and vitamin k2, which is useful for preventing osteoporosis. It contains compounds including phytoestrogen, selenium and others that may help prevent cancer, and also contains a powerful beneficial enzyme called nattokinase.

Nattokinase has been found to help prevent and reduce the risk of blood clots, as well as provide heart-protective benefits. Some studies suggest that nattokinase can also reduce the risk of heart attack and stroke.

NOTE: For an excellent natto-based supplement be sure to check out CardioEssentials.

4. Mushrooms

Many mushroom varieties, including shitake and enoki, are popular in Japanese cuisine. They're used in soups, salads, and many other dishes.

Health Benefits: Mushrooms are rich in protein, fiber, vitamin C, B vitamins, calcium and minerals, but they are also renowned for their many medicinal properties. These nutritional powerhouses have been found to:

Protect heart health
Lower the risk of cancer
Boost immune function
Reduce high cholesterol
Fight off viruses, bacteria and fungi
Reduce inflammation
Combat allergies
Help balance blood sugar levels
Support the body's detoxification mechanisms
Help fight blood clots

5. Green Tea

Green tea is served at the end of traditional Japanese meals (not throughout the meal as is common in the United States). Although widely consumed in Japan for centuries, green tea is thought to have originated in China and Northern India.

Health Benefits: Green tea is a rich source of catechin polyphenols, namely epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG), which is a potent antioxidant that appears to be responsible for many of green tea's health benefits. Green tea has been found to help:

Rheumatoid arthritis
High cholesterol levels
Heart disease
Impaired immune function
Obesity, overweight
High blood sugar levels
Note: Certain varieties of green tea (and other tea) may contain excessive levels of fluoride that could be harmful. Before drinking green tea, it's important to find a source that is pure.

6. Sashimi

Sashimi is thinly sliced raw fish, savored for its simplicity and often served with wasabi and soy sauce, and sometimes a bowl of rice.

Health Benefits: Sashimi offers all of the benefits of fresh fish -- an excellent source of protein, omega-3 fats, and other nutrients like selenium, niacin and vitamin B12, phosphorous, magnesium and vitamin B6. Because sashimi is consumed raw, it is possible for it to contain parasites, but choosing "sashimi grade" fish, or dining at a reputable restaurant, should reduce these risks.

24-08-2010, 13:51

Italian cuisine is far more complex than the pizza, pasta and lasagna for which it's famous in America. In fact, depending on the region -- Rome, Tuscany, Sicily, etc. -- you may find polenta or risotto instead of pasta, lamb instead of seafood or flatbread vs. thicker-crust pizza.

Also, in stark contrast to America, in Italy meals are a lengthy process, meant to be savored (though more fast-food restaurants are creeping in to the bigger cities). A typical Italian meal would start with antipasto and be followed by a pasta course (or polenta, risotto or soup), then a meat, seafood or vegetable dish. Next may come a salad, a fruit and cheese course, and a sweet dessert.

Trying some healthy Italian favorites in your own kitchen does not have to be complicated, though. Check out these six Italian staple foods below -- some of the healthiest foods on their menus -- then try your hand at the tasty recipes below.

1. Tomatoes

Whether in sauce or soups, sun-dried or fresh, tomatoes are a mainstay of Italian cooking. This was not always the case, though. Since tomatoes are a part of the nightshade family, people once thought they were poisonous and kept them strictly for decoration purposes in their gardens. It wasn't until the 16th century that tomatoes became a food source in Europe and Italy.

Health Benefits: Aside from being rich in vitamins C, A and K, tomatoes contain lycopene, a carotenoid with potent antioxidant and cancer-fighting properties. Lycopene protects cells from oxygen damage, fights colorectal, prostate, breast, endometrial, lung, and pancreatic cancers, and reduces your risk of heart disease.

Studies have found that the synergy between phytonutrients and lycopene in tomatoes, rather than an isolated nutrient, is what's responsible for their benefits.

Cooked tomatoes are a more concentrated source of lycopene than raw ones, and lycopene is better absorbed when they're cooked with a little oil, making Italian sauces an ideal source.

2. Oregano

This herb is used in Italian sauces, soups, pizzas and vegetables, either fresh or dried, for its warm, intense and aromatic flavor.

Health Benefits: Two compounds in oregano, thymol and carvacrol, have potent antibacterial properties. The herb is also a potent antioxidant, rich in phytonutrients. On a per gram basis, fresh oregano has:

42 times more antioxidant activity than apples
30 times more than potatoes
12 times more than oranges
4 times more than blueberries

3. Garlic

Garlic is used in many Italian dishes (but, as a relief to those non-garlic fans out there, not all). You may find it sliced on pizza, cooked in sauces, rubbed onto bread, or served as marinated whole cloves with olives.

Health Benefits: Garlic, a member of the onion family, has many potent health-promoting properties. Many of these benefits (and its characteristic smell) stem from its sulfur-containing compounds, such as allicin. Garlic has been found to:

Lower blood pressure
Lower LDL (bad) cholesterol
Prevent atherosclerosis
Reduce the risk of heart attack and stroke
Be antibacterial, antiviral and anti-inflammatory
Act as a potent antibiotic
Fight cancer
Protect against the side effects of diabetes
Help prevent weight gain
Provide antioxidant protection

4. Olives and Olive Oil

Olives are one of the oldest foods known, and it's thought that they've been used for food for some 7,000 years. Whole olives are used in many cooked Italian dishes, salads and antipasto, and olive oil is a part of just about every meal. Italian olive oils have been compared to fine wines in the number of different varieties and flavors they represent.

Confused about olive oil grades? Extra virgin is the unrefined oil from the first pressing, and usually indicates a higher quality oil than virgin olive oil.

Health Benefits: Olives contain healthy monounsaturated fatty acids that have been found to reduce the risk of atherosclerosis and increase HDL (good) cholesterol.

Olives and olive oil also contain antioxidants, polyphenols, flavonoids and vitamin E. This combination has been found to help fight colon cancer and heart disease, as well as reduce inflammation.

5. Artichokes

Artichokes are much more common in Italian cuisine than they are in America, and with good reason. Artichokes can be stuffed, steamed, served with sauce or with pasta, and eaten with salads, all with a unique flavor.

The artichoke is actually the unopened flower from a thistle-like plant. Typically, only the fleshy, tender portion at the bottom of each leaf is eaten, along with the heart of the artichoke, which is considered a delicacy (you can buy canned artichoke hearts as well).

The variety of artichoke common to Italian foods is the globe artichoke or the baby artichoke. (The Jerusalem artichoke is actually not an artichoke.)

Health Benefits: Artichokes are an excellent source of magnesium, folic acid, fiber and vitamin C.

6. Basil

Basil is an important part of pesto, a favorite Italian sauce of basil, parmesan cheese, pine nuts, olive oil and garlic, usually served with pasta, but basil is also used as a flavor-enhancing herb in many other Italian dishes.

Health Benefits: Basil contains flavonoids that protect cells from radiation and oxidative damage. It also contains potent volatile oils that are anti-bacterial and effective at warding off unwanted bacteria, as well as contain anti-inflammatory properties. Basil is also a good source of iron, calcium and vitamin A.

24-08-2010, 13:53

Greece is thought to be a birthplace for the culinary arts, and the first Greek chefs enjoyed much esteem. Along with being credited as developing many original cooking techniques, the Greeks are said to be the first to don the chef's hat.

Their cuisine is known for encompassing rich flavors that are more tangy than spicy. While lamb is the principle meat in Greek dishes, fresh seafood, vegetables and fragrant herbs are also popular.

Greek food is often thought of as comfort food because of its vast array of meat and vegetable dishes (like the Greek equivalent of shepherd's pie, moussaka), but it is also one of the healthiest cuisines out there. If you'd like to try your hand at making a healthy Greek dish of your own, use plenty of the foods below, and check out the tasty recipes that follow.

1. Lemons

In Greece, lemons are used as a feature flavor in sauces, appetizers, entrées, salad dressings and the popular avgolemono, or Greek egg-lemon soup.

Health Benefits: Lemons are an excellent source of vitamin B6, iron and potassium, and a very good source of dietary fiber and vitamin C. They also contain calcium, copper, folic acid, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus and zinc.

Aside from their many nutrients, lemons are rich in bioflavonoids, which protect against damage from free radicals, act as natural antibiotics and may help prevent heart disease and cancer. Lemons are also anti-bacterial and anti-septic, making them good for mouth ulcers, canker sores and sore throats.

Finally, lemon pulp and skin contains pectin, a compound that may lower cholesterol and blood sugar levels in diabetics.

2. Eggplants

Many of Greece's most famous dishes -- like moussaka and melitzana salata, an eggplant dip -- contain eggplant, which is known for its slightly bitter flavor and spongy texture. Eggplants are part of the nightshade family of vegetables, along with tomatoes, sweet peppers and potatoes.

Because of its bitter taste, when eggplants first came about they were regarded as quite dangerous -- it was believed that they could instantly cause cancer, leprosy and even insanity.

Health Benefits: Eggplants are a rich source of phytonutrients, which have potent antioxidant properties. One such nutrient is nasunin, found in the eggplant's skin. Nasunin is an antioxidant that protects against free radical damage and protects the fats in brain cell membranes.

Eggplants also contain chlorogenic acid, which is known to have anti-cancer, antimicrobial, and antiviral properties, as well as help lower LDL (bad) cholesterol. They're a good source of dietary fiber, potassium, manganese, copper and vitamin B1.

3. Grape leaves

Grape leaves are a popular wrapper for rice and meat in Greek cuisine. Perhaps the most popular use is for dolmathes, an appetizer of grape leaves stuffed with rice, onions and sometimes ground beef.

You can find grape leaves canned or bottled, but fresh leaves can also be used after they're steamed or blanched.

Health Benefits: Aside from being incredibly low in calories (five leaves have only about 14 calories), grape leaves are packed with nutrients including vitamins C, E, A, K and B6, niacin, iron, fiber, riboflavin, folate, calcium, magnesium, copper and manganese. If you use the bottled variety, give them a rinse before you use them. This will remove some of the excess sodium in the brine.

4. Spinach

Greece is famous for its spanakopita, a spinach pie, but spinach is also a popular addition to Greek casseroles, side dishes, entrees, appetizers and soups.

Spinach also happened to be a favorite food of Catherine de Medici, who lived in the 16th century in Florence, Italy. She left home to marry the king of France, and made sure to bring her cooks who could prepare her spinach dishes. This is how foods served with spinach came to be known as "a la Florentine."

Health Benefits: Spinach is loaded with health benefits. It contains at least 13 different flavonoid compounds that are potent antioxidants and are known to fight cancer. It also contains ample quantities of nutrients that can help protect your bones, heart, brain and eyes, and fight inflammation, asthma, osteoarthritis, and rheumatoid arthritis. Plus, it's a great energy food.

Spinach is a rich source of vitamins K, C, B2, B6 and A, manganese, folate, magnesium, iron, calcium, potassium, tryptophan and dietary fiber (among many others).

5. Olives and Olive oil

Olive trees abound in Greece, and the olives (a favorite is the kalamata olive) are used for oil and also for appetizers, stews, salads and sauces. Olive oil is used generously for cooking and salad dressings and also as a dip for crusty breads.

Health Benefits: Olives contain healthy monounsaturated fatty acids that have been found to reduce the risk of atherosclerosis and increase HDL (good) cholesterol.

Olives and olive oil also contain antioxidants, polyphenols, flavonoids and vitamin E. This combination has been found to help fight colon cancer and heart disease, as well as reduce inflammation.

6. Garbanzo beans (Chickpeas)

Garbanzo beans are a staple part of Greek stews, entrees, appetizers and soups (a popular one is revithosoupa, chickpea soup). They have been eaten by the Egyptians, Greeks and Romans since ancient times, and they're still popular in all of these regions today.

Health Benefits: Garbanzo beans are extremely high in fiber, which can help lower cholesterol, fight heart disease and stabilize blood sugar levels. They're also a good source of protein, manganese, folate, tryptophan, copper, phosphorus and iron.

24-08-2010, 13:55
Can I translate Garbanzo beans (chickpeas) as Нут ?

Is it possible to buy Нут in Moscow? If so, where?

24-08-2010, 14:31
Can I translate Garbanzo beans (chickpeas) as Нут ?

Is it possible to buy Нут in Moscow? If so, where?

Yes, I buy нут quite often to make humus. I typically get it from www.indianspices.ru

I have seen it a few times in markets, but not often. It is also sometimes called турецкий горох or желтый горох as well.

25-08-2010, 09:52
The 6 Healthiest Foods in American Cuisine:


25-08-2010, 10:03
I never liked Japanese food. It involves a lot of seafood and I'm just not partial to seafood. I have a theory that humans were not intended to be eating seafood according to the laws of nature. You notice how a good deal of food poisoning complaints and complications arise from sea food? Because we weren't born in the sea and our stomachs were not intended to eat the stuff in the sea. What lives in the sea is meant for other sea creatures like sharks and whales. We were born on land and we're supposed to eat chickens, cow, etc. This is the same reason why I don't swim. If humans were meant to swim human habitat would have started in water. Drinking water is vital but that's about the only contact you need with aquatic landforms.