History and characteristics of Okinawan longevity food

Asia Pac J Clin Nutr. 2001;10(2):159-64. doi: 10.1111/j.1440-6047.2001.00235.x.


Okinawan food culture in the Ryukyu island is one of the world's most interesting culture because its consumers have the longest life expectancies and low disability rates. It is a product of cultural synthesis, with a core of Chinese food culture, inputs through food trade with South-East Asia and the Pacific and strong Japanese influences in eating style and presentation. The Satsamu sweet potato provides the largest part of the energy intake (and contributes to self-sufficiency), there is a wide array of plant foods including seaweed (especially konbu) and soy, and of herbaceous plants, accompanied by fish and pork, and by green tea and kohencha tea. Infusing multiple foodstuff and drinking the broth is characteristic. Raw sugar is eaten. The concept that 'food is medicine' and a high regard accorded medical practice are also intrinsic of Okinawan culture. Again, food-centered and ancestral festivities keeep the health dimensions well-developed. Pork, konbu and tofu (soy bean-curd) are indispensable ingredients in festival menus, and the combination of tofu and seaweed are used everyday. Okinawan food culture is intimately linked with an enduring belief of the system and highly developed social structure and network.

Publication types

  • Historical Article

MeSH terms

  • Diet / history*
  • Feeding Behavior*
  • History, 19th Century
  • History, 20th Century
  • History, 21st Century
  • History, Early Modern 1451-1600
  • History, Medieval
  • Japan
  • Longevity*
  • Nutritional Physiological Phenomena