Saturday, January 9, 2010

Okinawa: The island of pork

The original inhabitants of the Ryūkyū Islands, of which the island of Okinawa is the largest, are believed to have the highest life expectancy in the world.

One of the staples of their diet is sweet potatoes. The carbohydrate percentage of a sweet potato is about 20; that is, each 100 g of sweet potato mass has about 20 g of carbohydrates. Sweet potatoes have a medium-high glycemic index, and are often avoided by those with impaired insulin sensitivity, and certainly by diabetics.

The other main staple of their diet is pork, as you may have inferred from the title of this post. The quote below is from the first of the three links provided below the quote.
Pork appears so frequently in the Okinawan diet that to say "meat" is really to say "pork." [...] It is no exaggeration to say that the present-day Okinawan diet begins and ends with pork.

So, what is the secret of the Okinawans’ longevity? Maybe it is the diet. Maybe it is the lifestyle. Maybe it is the fact that their mothers and fathers are Okinawans (the heritability of longevity has been estimated to be about 33%, and to be higher among females than males). Here are some interesting points that are worth noting:

- Their diet is not only of meat, but includes plenty of it.

- Their diet is not particularly low in saturated fat, and maybe it is high in it.

- Their diet is not particularly low in dietary cholesterol, and maybe high in it, since they eat the pig whole, including the parts (e.g., organs) rich in dietary cholesterol.

- Their diet is not a no carb diet, not even a typical low carb diet, but it seems to be very low in refined carbs and sugars.