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Here's Why the Japanese Diet Is Keeping People Alive So Long

There’s something fishy going on in Japan.

Japanese people are some of the healthiest on the planet. They have the highest life expectancy for men (76) and women (86), and, at 3 percent, the lowest obesity rate. (The U.S. sits at a flabby 32 percent.) They also have the lowest risk of death from all causes, along with reduced odds of dying from cardiovascular disease and stroke.

So what the hell are they doing so right?

Eating sushi.

Or, to be more specific, eating salmon, tuna, cod, mackerel, octopus, eel, a little beef, some chicken, and a whole lot of rice, buckwheat noodles, carrots, cucumbers, mushrooms, pickles—well, basically what you’d see on the menu at your local sushi spot.

Yes, according to a new study published in the British Medical Journal, it’s the typical Japanese diet—defined by the country’s dietary guidelines as five to seven daily servings of grains, five to six servings of vegetables, three to five servings of fish and meat, and two servings of dairy and fruits—that’s keeping this country’s citizens so extraordinarily healthy.

In addition to eating mostly energy-dense, whole foods in the right proportions, the Japanese also serve smaller portions, so their daily calorie intake is about 25 percent less than that of Americans—a boon in itself, as studies have shown that even just an 8 percent reduction in calories could lead to longer life.

To implement these guidelines in your own life, up your intake of fish, veggies, and grains; and the next time you hit a sushi joint, skip the overstuffed Americanized rolls and stick to more traditional Japanese fare by choosing sashimi (strips of raw fish), nigiri (raw fish on top of a bit of rice), and temaki (the cone-shaped, seaweed-wrapped rolls).

Kanpai! (That means cheers.)

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