Healthy Food Choices When Dining in Japanese Restaurants

Eating healthily at a Japanese restaurant is not a daunting task at all. Did you know that the Japanese have the highest life expectancy in the world per the World Health Organization?  You can credit the diet of the Japanese for that, as the people born in the Land of the Rising Sun are known to consume a lot of vegetables, seafood and legumes.

Appetizers

Still, you’d have to know which dishes to eat and which meals to skip if you don’t want Japanese food to ruin your diet plans, right? One of the first things you ought to do when in a Japanese restaurant is to ask for a Miso soup. This is an excellent appetizer since it comes from soybeans which are rich in protein. It is also very low in fat.

Miso soup will help suppress your appetite, so you won’t find yourself overeating later on.  This appetizer is also rich in powerful compounds called isoflavones that have been linked to limiting the production of fat cells in the body.

Edamame is another solid choice for an appetizer. These are fresh soybeans that make for a good start to your meal. Since you have to free the soybeans from their pods, you won’t be eating them too quickly. Likewise, the beans are rich in fiber, protein and Omega 3-fats.

You are not only limited to Miso soup and edamame when it comes to appetizers. You can also try mixed vegetables and cucumber salad. Or ask for a tossed salad with miso dressing which is an appetizer commonly served at Japanese restaurants.

Vegetarian Dishes

Like the Chinese, the Japanese are fond of vegetables. They don’t treat vegetables as a mere complimentary ingredient to fish and meat.  For instance, seafood sunonomo is a dish with plenty of vegetables. Sunonomo pertains to any dish that is cooked in vinegar and makes for a great side dish.

People who love tempura but wary of the calories should opt for vegetable tempura. Tempura is not greasy unlike deep-fried dishes like French fries. Vegetable tempura is delicious and crunchy, and is only fried for a minute or so thus won’t carry as much calories like other deep-fried food.

However there are also vegetarian dishes which you’d rather skip, like the fried veggie dumplings.  The fried veggie dumplings served in P.F. Chang’s for instance, can reach up to 280 calories without sauce. As an illustration, you need to walk for 78 minutes in order to burn that much calories.

The rule of thumb is to avoid entrees that are described as steamed or roasted.  Thus when you see any of the words on a dish you are interested in, better find another meal to satisfy your cravings.

Sushi and Sashimi

Sushi is a popular Japanese dish that is also a healthy choice. This is a dish featuring thin slices of raw fish rolled over white rice. Whether you ordered for maki sushi or tuna sashimi, you’re bound to keep calories away with this dish. Sushi is particularly high in minerals and carbohydrates because it is made from rice. It is also very rich in Omega 3 fatty acids.

The problem would be the dip, as dipping sauces can increase your fat and calorie intake. Dipping sauces will eliminate any health benefit you get from eating raw food.

Sashimi, on the other hand, is the thin slice of raw fish. You could choose from salmon sashimi, squid, or tuna sashimi. Regardless of the fish you choose, you’re bound to get lots of protein and less fat from sashimi.

Shabu-Shabu and Sake

You should also share shabu-shabu with your family or friends who dined with you at a Japanese restaurant. Shabu-shabu is a dish that consists of meat and vegetables dipped into a simmering broth.

Instead of drinking beer, why don’t you have a serving of sake? This is a traditional Japanese liquor that comes from fermented rice. Aside from giving you a true Japanese dining experience, saka is also lighter in terms of calories than wine and beer.

Eating Strategies

Use chopsticks when eating at a Japanese restaurant. Not only does give you a true Asian dining experience, it would also make you eat less because you’ll have a harder time grasping the food. This is of course assuming that you are not used to having chopsticks instead of spoon and fork.

Using chopsticks also leads you to eating more slowly, helping you enjoy the food more. And because of the slower pace of eating, there’s a good chance you’ll decide that you are full. You can then stop your eating and prevent you from getting more calories.

Finally, remember that Japanese dishes are rich in salt.  You can ask the staff at Benihana to reduce the salt in the foods you ordered, or perhaps opt for another menu item without Japanese sauce.