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Okinawa Diet Follower's Average Life Span Is 116 Years; How To Eat Like Them (VIDEO, RECIPE)

By Rebekah Marcarelli r.marcarelli@hngn.com | Jul 10, 2013 12:42 PM EDT

Bitter Melon
Bitter melon is a staple of the Okinawa diet. (Photo : Flickr)

People who live in Okinawa on the Southern tip of Japan have the longest life spans in the world; a unique diet could be the secret to their longevity.

An Okinawan's average life span is about 110 years, genetics have been linked to their good health but diet also plays an important role, nutrition-and-you.com reported.

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The oldest man ever recorded, Jiroemon Kimura who died recently at the age of116, was from the impressively healthy region. The oldest person alive now, Misao Okawa, 115, is also from the same area of southern Japan, The Guardian reported.

"The Okinawans have a low risk of arteriosclerosis and stomach cancer, a very low risk of hormone-dependent cancers, such as breast and prostate cancer," Dr Craig Willcox, who wrote a book on the Okinawa diet, said. "They eat three servings of fish a week, on average ... plenty of whole grains, vegetables and soy products too, more tofu and more konbu seaweed than anyone else in the world, as well as squid and octopus, which are rich in taurine - that could lower cholesterol and high blood pressure."

The "longevity diet" in the Okinawa region is pescetarian, it excludes all land animals and animal products but allows seafood. Other staples are soy, and low calorie vegetables, according to nutrition-and-you.

The Okinawan's food pyramid looks a lot different than the one followed in other parts of the world.
The Okinawan's food pyramid looks a lot different than the one followed in other parts of the world.

Okinawans eat an extremely low calorie diet, averaging at only one calorie per gram of food. The diet is 20 percent lower in calories than the Japanese overall average. They also eat only 25% of the sugar and 75% of the grains as the average Japanese.

The diet consists of mostly green, orange, and yellow (GOY) vegetable which are packed full of cancer-fighting antioxidants, not to mention a ton of vitamins.

Foods are sorted into four calorie-based categories: featherweight foods, lightweight, middleweights, and heavyweights.

The foods the late Kimura swore by were porridge, miso soup and vegetables. He followed a mantra of "eat light to live long," according to The Guardian.


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