Eating the traditional Japanese diet, which is high in fish and soybean products and low in fat, may lead to a longer life, a new study finds.
Adults in Japan who closely followed that country’s government-recommended dietary guidelines had a 15 percent lower risk of dying during a 15-year period, compared withpeople who didn’t follow the guidelines, according to the new study.
And people who most closely followed the dietary guidelines were 22 percent less likely to die of stroke during those 15 years, according to the study.
Life expectancy in Japan is among the highest in the world, the researchers wrote in the study, and the role of the Japanese diet is of particular interest.
Japan’s dietary guidelines emphasize five types of dishes: grains, vegetables, fish and meats, milk and fruits, the study said.
The study included data from more than 36,000 men and 42,000 women across Japan. All of them completed questionnaires about their health, including information on their food intake, at the beginning of the study, and then again at five- and 10-year follow-ups.
Using these questionnaires, the researchers calculated how closely the participants stuck to the dietary guidelines, according to the study. Those who followed the guidelines more closely had a 15 percent lower risk of dying during the follow-up period, compared with those who stuck to the guidelines less closely.
The overall lower rate of death in the group that followed the guidelines is probably due to the lower rates of death from cardiovascular disease, and in particular, stroke, the researchers wrote. The people who consumed a lot of vegetables and fruit, and ate enough fish and meat, seemed to fare the best, the researchers said.
The researchers also noted that Japanese people consume more fish and less beef and pork than Western populations do.
“Our findings, together with previous reports, suggest that a dietary pattern of high intake of vegetables and fruits, and adequate intake of fish and meat, can significantly decrease the risk of mortality from cardiovascular disease in East Asian populations, particularly from [stroke],” the researchers wrote.