Diversifying Nutrient Sources

Ya stands for yasai (vegetable). Sachiaki Takamiya shares that Japanese people prefer to include as many vegetables as they can in their meals because each vegetable contains different types of nutrients; having various types of vegetables can provide enough nutrients to keep the balance in people’s bodies. 

Nick: But moving on to vegetables, so the ya in yasashii represents vegetables?

Sachiaki: Yeah. So ya is yasai which means vegetables. Any kind of vegetables are part of ya.

Nick: And Japan has a range of unique vegetables such as daikon, goya, few ones that people might not know of is renkon and gobo. 

So Japan does have this unique range of vegetables, but Japanese also know the importance of eating a diverse range of vegetables.

Sachiaki: Yeah. So when we say vegetables, we have root vegetables, leafy vegetables, green vegetables, or yellow vegetables, but it's good to include as many different kinds of vegetables as you can. 

Because each vegetable contain different types of nutrients. So even though for example, you know, broccoli is considered to be a superfood, so some people want to eat broccoli a lot.

But if you're eating only broccoli, it gives you only certain type of nutrient. But if you include other vegetables, then they provide you different sort of nutrients.

Even though there are some vegetables which are not considered to be a superfood, they might contain some nutrients, which are lacking in other vegetables. So just having like a various type of vegetable will provide enough nutrients in your body to keep the balance.

Nick: Okay, so you're sort of diversifying your nutrient sources in a sense. And you have mentioned that Japanese basically eat, I guess, Japanese who eat well eat vegetables with every meal. 

And I remember you told me the shock you experienced when you either went to America or the UK and you had basically a meat heavy breakfast.

Sachiaki: Yeah, that was actually in Australia. I had breakfast with sausages and eggs without any vegetables. And I was very surprised because usually in Japan, we have vegetables for breakfast, too.