Travelling the world is one of life’s greatest pleasures. If you live in Hong Kong, short-distance trips to Asian countries including Japan, Korea and Thailand are amongst the most popular holiday destinations. And as we foodies well know, one of the highlights of travelling is tasting the local cuisine. But as the end of a holiday approaches, do you sometimes feel guilty about all the delicious (and often high-fat and high-calorie) food you’ve chowed down?

It’s normal to eat a lot and enjoy your food when you’re on holiday. What matters is the choice of food. For example, in Japan, it’s better to avoid eating barbecued items, which are high in calories, at every single meal. Instead you could lean towards eating something lower in calories like sushi rolls to balance your daily intake. In other words, eat in an alternating pattern: a high-calorie meal followed by a lower-calorie meal.

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The life expectancy of the Japanese always ranks first. This could be due to their higher consumption of fish and fermented products than other countries. Sashimi is one of the signature dishes in Japan. It is thin slices of raw fish, served with soy sauce and wasabi. Sashimi, especially from oily fish, is rich in polyunsaturated fats called omega-3 that exert several health benefits like protecting the heart and promoting good eye health. It is also low in calories. A slice of sashimi is around 30–40 calories, or around 50 calories for a piece of salmon sushi, made with rice. In addition, it is rich in nutrients such as selenium and vitamins B6 and B12. Selenium is an antioxidant that helps to scavenge free radicals and protects us from cancer. Vitamin B6 and B12 are nutrients that are essential for cell growth. So sashimi is not merely a low-calorie food choice, but its nutritional content is also beneficial to your health.

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Soy products are incorporated into many Japanese dishes, with soy protein providing lots of health benefits. For instance, consider edamame, or soybean pods. This is a high-quality protein as it provides all the essential amino acids we require. Edamame is also rich in dietary fibre and low in carbohydrates. This helps to relieve the glucose level and bad cholesterol in blood. It is suggested to consume edamame before a high-fat or high-carb meal as the presence of dietary fibre can help to reduce the transit time so that blood glucose does not rapidly surge, thus decreasing the chance of developing diabetes and insulin insensitivity. Fermented soybean products like natto and miso are also common in Japanese dishes, and they bring probiotic benefits that are essential to our body. By incorporating the right amount of probiotics into our diet, nutrient absorption is aided and pathogenic bacteria in the gut are combated, ensuring optimal gut health.

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Green tea is a must-have in Japanese cuisine owing to its potent antioxidant qualities. Thanks to its component catechin, this antioxidant can help to prevent the development of cancer and heart disease. So the next time you visit a Japanese restaurant, be sure to take a big sip of green tea!

If you have unconsciously gained some weight after the holiday season, it’s not too late to join an Eatology programme and lose the extra pounds before Easter rolls around. Eatology has become well known for its healthy meal programmes and high-quality ingredients. If you find it difficult to make up your mind about which programme to choose, Eatology’s customer service team can offer some useful advice. Email for more information.

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