Cardiovascular disease still remains to be the second most common cause of death in Japan. Its rate of type 2 diabetes and levels of blood pressure and cholesterol is comparable to that of the United States. However, if all countries were ranked based on their heart disease incidence, the Land of the Rising Sun would be in the bottom rung.
To be more specific, according to the data of World Life Expectancy, Japan has the third lowest heart disease mortality rate in the entire world at 31.2%. United States has 80.5%.
How are the Japanese able to take care of their heart? There are actually 3 reasons:
1. They eat plenty of fish. And when we say plenty, we mean PLENTY. They are one of the world’s biggest consumers of fish, and an average Japanese chows down around 150 pounds of fish in a year or almost a pound every-single-day.
Aside from providing them with enough protein so they eat less during the day, the fish is also a vital source of omega-3 fatty acid chain, a type of unsaturated fatty acid that can bring down the risk of chronic inflammation of the body. It also controls the build-up of plaque by lowering cholesterol levels, among others.
Plaques can clog arteries and blood vessels, thereby slowly cutting off the proper supply of blood to different areas of the body including the heart. In turn, this increases a person’s blood pressure. Too much plaque may also lead to a blood clot, which may lead to heart attack if it bursts.
2. They exercise. For many of us, exercise is merely an afterthought. We do it whenever we have the time, and usually we don’t. On the other hand, exercise in Japan is a lifestyle.
Every morning, around 6:30, men and women, regardless of age, wake up and join the raijo taiso (morning exercise). Drills are broadcasted over radio stations, and the exercise lasts for about 15 minutes. Companies with a very early clock time have learned to embrace the same drills before employees proceed to their work of the day. These morning exercises are definitely not mandatory, but many still adhere to them.
3. They make sure they can combat obesity as early as possible. Japan has one of the lowest rates of obesity in the world with less than 4% of men and women having a body mass index (BMI) of more than 30. Of course, both exercise and diet play a role, but you also need to give credit to its very controversial federal policy called metabo law.
The law specifies that men and women who are between 40 and 74 years old should never go beyond the mandated waistline: 33.5 inches for men and 35.4 inches for women. Those who can’t meet the guidelines are required to undergo counseling while companies that can’t help their employees lose weight are heavily fined.