What Are The Key Features of The Okinawa’s Blue Zone Diet?

Okinawa, often referred to as the 'Japanese Hawaii,' is a captivating archipelago celebrated for its relaxed ambience, palm-fringed beaches, and balmy climate.

The Blue Zones, Okinawa

What is The Blue Zone Of Okinawa?

In the past, Okinawa was known as the land of the immortals in Chinese expeditions. Today, these islands are renowned as one of the famous Blue Zones. If you’re unfamiliar, Okinawa, often referred to as the ‘Japanese Hawaii,’ is a captivating archipelago celebrated for its relaxed ambience, palm-fringed beaches, and balmy climate.


Japan boasts a significant number of semi-supercentenarians (individuals over 110 years old), with seven per million people. Leading this demographic within the country is Okinawa, where the count reaches 35 semi-supercentenarians per million. Despite enduring centuries of challenges, including wars and natural disasters, Okinawa has consistently upheld its reputation for promoting extraordinary longevity. 1,2

What are the key features of the Okinawan diet?

The older generation of Okinawans predominantly adheres to a plant-based diet throughout their lives. Their meals include nutrient-rich and low-calorie options such as stir-fried vegetables and miso soup. They also prioritise consuming simple, non-processed foods. This approach promotes a positive ecology of friendly bacteria in the intestines, including beneficial lactic acid bacteria.

Typical Daily Diet of Okinawas

Okinawan centenarians practice “hara hachi bu,” a Confucian-inspired adage that translates to eating until 80% full. This deliberate calorie restriction slows down the body’s metabolism, reducing the production of damaging oxidants and promoting a lean physique, contributing to their extended lifespan.2

Top longevity foods of Okinawa long-livers

The Okinawa diet is traditionally rich in vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and legumes, with an emphasis on locally grown produce. Importantly, Okinawans historically consumed less fish, salt, sugar, and overall calories compared to other populations, even within Japan.2,3

Shaped by adversity, Okinawa’s centenarians embrace a diet rich in highly nutritious foods, favouring:

Soy Products: Tofu, miso soup, and edamame offer heart protection and cancer defence.

Mugwort: Despite the bitterness, it’s valued for malaria defence and used in local dishes.

Goya (Bitter Melon): Key in stir-fried dishes, known for anti-diabetic properties.

blue zones recipes longevity healthy

Green Tea: Unique variety protects against age-related issues like heart disease.

Turmeric: Anti-cancer, anti-inflammatory properties contribute to lower Alzheimer’s rates.

Brown Rice: Nutrient-rich with a naturally sweet flavour.

Seaweeds (Kombu and Wakame): Low-calorie, nutrient-dense flavour enhancers.

Sweet Potatoes: Okinawan *imo (*purple potato), has antioxidants, and a low blood sugar impact.

Shiitake Mushrooms: Immune-boosting with over 100 compounds.

Garlic: Prevents chronic diseases, a valuable addition to overall health.

The diet of Okinawa

How to eat like Okinawa’s centenarians?

Incorporating elements of the Okinawa diet into one’s lifestyle involves eating a variety of vegetables, whole grains, and beans, and favouring fish over red meat. It also suggests consuming fewer calories, being mindful of portion sizes, and avoiding processed and sugar-laden foods.4, 5

Note that preparation techniques in Okinawa often involve boiling, steaming, or stir-frying rather than frying in oil.2

Healthypedia FAQ

Japan has a high number of semi-supercentenarians (those over 110 years old) – seven per million people. And Okinawa is the leader of this race, compared to the rest of the country, with 35 semi-supercentenarians per million.

Hara hachi bu – a reminder that keeps Okinawans from eating too much. Okinawan centenarians never forget to say out loud ‘hara hachi bu’ before each meal. They follow this practice, meaning they eat until they are 80% full, as a Confucian-inspired adage.

That diet is predominantly plant-based and emphasises fresh vegetables. Okinawans consume lean sources of protein, such as tofu, while minimising their intake of processed foods.

Link is copied