The Ryukuan people, the indigenous people of the Ryukyu Islands stretching between Japan and Taiwan, are known for their longevity, which has been attributed to a combination of diet, exercise and lifestyle practices. Although closely related to Japanese culture, the Ryukyuan’s distinctive culture has historically also been influenced by China.
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Known as a peaceful people, their culture and tradition of close family and community life, plenty of exercise through physical labour, martial arts, dance and walking, all contribute to a way of life and dietary habits that make them one of the longest living and healthiest in the world.
Following the Ryukuan Diet also means consciously choosing nutrient-rich, low calorific-dense foods such as soy, fruits, vegetables, sprouts, broth-based soups, seaweed, grains, lean poultry and fish. Instead of merely counting calories consider calorie density, or calories per gram. This is the basis of the diet, eating enough to feel satisfied without consuming so many calorifes that store fat and weight. Foods with the lowest calorific density seem naturally to have the highest nutritional value. One popular Ryukuan dish that characterises calorie density, is nutritious and filling soba noodle soup!
Although rice is a staple food, pork, seafood, seaweed, miso (fermented soybean) pastes and black sugar feature prominently in their native cuisine. Their diet is well balanced in protein, fats, carbohydrates and rich in vitamins, minerals and antioxidants.
Domesticated pigs have been an important part of the Ryukyu Islanders’ diet, especially in the Okinawa Prefecture. Providing rich animal protein, some researchers conclude it may be part of the secret of their longevity. All parts of the pigs are utilised in the local cuisine, including spareribs, used in Okinawa soba, a very popular noodle dish.