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Japan's high life expectancy linked to high intake of fish, soybean

Update Date: Mar 30, 2016 12:15 AM EDT

Japanese people are living longer due to their diet consisting of a high intake of fish and soybean products, and a low intake of fat.

Researchers, led by Kayo Kurotani, a senior researcher at the National Center for Global Health and Medicine in Tokyo, analyzed the diet and lifestyle of  36,624 men and 42,920 women aged between 45 and 75 based on a questionnaire  at the beginning of the study, and then again at five- and 10-year follow-ups.

The participants, who had no history of cancer, stroke, heart or chronic liver diseases at the start of the study, were tracked for 15 years.

Japan's government-recommended dietary emphasize five types of dishes: grains, vegetables, fish and meats, milk, and fruits, the study noted.

Researchers found that participants who closely followed Japan's government-recommended dietary guidelines had a 15 percent lower risk of dying during a 15-year time period, as compared to those who didn't, according to a Live Science report.

The overall lower rate of death in the group that followed the guidelines is likely due to the lower rates of death from cardiovascular disease, which includes a 22 percent lesser risk of death due to stroke, according to the study published in The BMJ.

The researchers noted that those who ate a lot of vegetables and fruit, and ate enough fish and meat dishes, fared the best. It was also pointed out that Japanese people consume more fish and less beef and pork compared with Western populations.

James DiNicolantonio, a cardiovascular research scientist at St. Luke's Mid America Heart Institute who was not involved in the study, emphasized that the combination high quality foods low in saturated fats was particularly important, the Independent reported.

The researchers added that since the Japanese study was conducted in a single city, the results might not represent that of the entire Japanese population.

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