Which diet is healthier, the Mediterranean or the Japanese?




For decades, concern about what we eat and the quality of the nutrients we eat have been part of the collective interest. Although it is no less true that, if we pay attention to the dietary habits of certain sectors of society, the acquisition of eating habits correct is still a pending issue.

What we eat has multiple implications. Scientific evidence and
World Health Organization
They place increasing emphasis on the role of diet in the prevention of chronic diseases.

In addition, the ability of some foods to protect and prevent against different diseases both physical level like mental level it is widely recognized in the scientific literature. Over the past 50 years, numerous studies have evaluated the associations between food, food, or nutrient groups and chronic diseases.

The conclusion: a general consensus on the role of diet in the etiology of most common chronic diseases, including the obesity, cardiovascular disease, various cancers, and type 2 diabetes mellitus, among other. All negatively affected by overfeeding.

Similarly, there is a growing interest in investigating the role that diet has on mental and neurological diseasess. Diet is an essential determinant of health, although it is difficult to quantify the extent to which it prevents disease.

Mediterranean diet or Japanese diet?

Surely, associated with the Mediterranean diet, we are all familiar with the percentage distribution of nutrients recommended by the nutritional pyramid of the
World Health Organization
to have a balanced diet. The distribution that he proposes is, approximately, a 55-60% slow-absorbing carbohydrates, a 12-15% protein and a 25% fat, mainly unsaturated. These percentages are normally spread over three meals a day.

If we transfer these data to the daily amount of energy that a healthy adult needs with normal physical and intellectual activity, the recommendation is that a man consume around 2,300 calories per day average. In the same circumstances, a woman should ingest around 1950 calories. Obviously all of this could be modified based on individual characteristics.

In Japanese dietary culture, it is customary to eat small amounts of food with an important variety of them, several times a day, being able to consume up to 30 different foods each day. Of course, always in small bites or portions.

Not only the frequency varies. When comparing the contents of the Japanese and Mediterranean diets, we detected other interesting differences. For example, in the Mediterranean diet we found in a significant way the presence of dairy products, eggs, legumes, coffee or unsaturated fats such as those provided by extra virgin olive oil. As for the Japanese diet, the presence of algae (rich in proteins of plant origin, vitamins and fiber that benefits intestinal transit), soy derivatives (also very rich in protein), or green tea as a substitute predominate. of the coffee.

They also have similarities to take into account. Both ways of eating share be healthy, varied and sustainable diets. Both also incorporate basic foods such as rice, fish, vegetables, fruits and vegetables typical of the regions of each country.

Consuming local products not only provides consumers with the recommended daily doses of vitamins and minerals as well as fiber and proteins to be able to lead a physically and mentally healthy life. Simultaneously, it helps to maintain local economy and conserving the environment. Among other things because it avoids the contamination derived from the means of transport and the consumption of plastic containers and wrappings or other materials that are difficult to recycle.

Both the Mediterranean diet and the Japanese diet should be understood not only as a set of foods, but also as cultural models, healthy and respectful with the environment, which have been passed from generation to generation for centuries. Not surprisingly, both populations are from the longest living in the world, and, in addition to living longer, they live better.

Cristina Ruano Rodriguez. Research doctor and associate professor in Nutrition, Pharmacology and Health, University of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria.

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