Japanese Diet: Understanding The Japanese Food Pyramid

food pyramid Japan diagram

The human body depends on nutrients from the foods we consume.  Oftentimes, we end up eating more and more of the foods we like and less and less of the ones that are good for us.   The Japanese Food Pyramid has a breakdown of the foods that are considered to be the basic building blocks of a healthy lifestyle in terms of food.  Depending on where you live, some foods are simply more accessible than others, and decisions have to be made regarding what is right for you and what can prove to be trouble.  

The Japanese Food Pyramid was assembled by the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare and Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries of Japan.  This food pyramid is broken down into food categories that are considered to be the most necessary and those that the body needs in moderation in a day.  

Japanese Food Pyramid


Exercise and Tea/Water

At the top of the inverse Pyramid you will see that having an active lifestyle is very important along with drinking water.  Tea is also important with so many health benefits, especially Japanese Green Tea.  Green tea has flavonoids which are a group of phytochemicals that have anti-oxidative and anti-carcinogenic properties.  They are many different varities of Green Tea to try such as Macha, Gyokuro, Hojicha and Sencha.

mornig green tea by Kanko*
Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic Licenseby Kanko* - Japanese Green Tea

Grains and Vegetables

The base of the pyramid is made of Grains such as rice, bread, noodles and pasta.  In order to build a strong base for the pyramid, the recommendation is to eat 5 to 7 servings of these types of grains each day.  Popular types of Japanese food that belong to this category are sushi(rice), Soba noodles, Shirataki noodles and Ramen Noodles

Chilli Beef Ramen - Wagamama Filnders La by avlxyz
Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic License by avlxyz - Ramen Noodles

The next most important food on the pyramid is what we all know to be important and that’s vegetables.  The recommendation from the Japanese Food Pyramid is that individuals consume between 5 and 6 servings of vegetable dishes every day.  A couple vegetables to try are Wakame(A Healthy Sea Vegetable commonly used in Miso Soup), Nori(used in sushi) and Tsukemono which are Japaese preserved vegetables like Daikon, 

If you start with these two food groups, you can most likely consume them together when eating noodles soups since many are acommpanied with many types of vegetables.

Meats and Fish

Next in line is Meats and Fish at 3 to 5 servings.  Japan is probably the most famous country known for eating fish because of Sushi and Sashimi and yes there is a difference between the two.  You will notice that eggs are considered a part of this group and are popular in Japan.  So whether you have your eggs for breakfast, in a noodle soup or as part of a nice stir fried rice dish, you can definitely work them into your diet without much trouble.

Sashimi by Charles Haynes
Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic Licenseby Charles Haynes - Sashimi

Milk and Fruits

Once you’ve managed to plan for the hard core foods in your diet – the grains, vegetables and meats – you can start to accent your meals with milk, dairy products, as well as fruits.  The pyramid recommends that the diet include 2 servings of milk and 2 servings of fruit. It is interesting to see how little fruits is recommended.  A couple Japanese fruits to try are persimmons, ringo apples and Japanese pear nashi.

Japanese Persimmon


Without a doubt this food pyramid is different than that of other countries. Overall you will notice how this food pyramid correlates strongly with a traditional Japanese meal at dinner time.  

We encourage you to go ahead and give this food pyramid a shot. It can provide nothing but benefits in terms of health.  Oh one last thing from the pyramid, you can enjoy snacks and beverages moderately.  Its all about having a balance lifestyle!