Okinawa: sweet potatoes not couch potatoes


Okinawa is one of the Ryukyu islands south of Japan. Since 1976 the Japanese Ministry of Health has been studying older Okinawan’s, hoping to unlock the secrets of their amazing good health. What’s most interesting about them is that they have the longest disability-free life expectancy in the world. Okinawa boasts the highest percentage of centenarians anywhere in the world. Heart disease rates are low and there are 80% fewer heart attacks in Okinawa and Okinawan’s who have had heart attacks are more likely to survive compared to the rest of the world. Breast and prostate cancer are so rare as to be unheard of among the older population. Obesity is also equally as rare.

The average Okinawan citizen consumes at least seven servings of vegetables daily, and an equal number of grains (in the form of noodles, bread, and rice many of them whole grains). Add to this two to four servings of fruit, plus tofu and other forms of soy, green tea, seaweed, and fish rich in omega-3’s (three times weekly). Sweet potatoes, bean sprouts, onions, and green peppers are prominent in the diet. Vegetables, grains, and fruits make up 72% of the diet by weight. Soy and seaweed provide another 14%. Meat, poultry, and eggs account for just 3% o