Japan Today

7 Japanese superfoods to boost your immune system

By Erika Van 'T Veld

Many traditional Japanese foods are filled with antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, and even beneficial bacteria (for optimal gut health). Forget the pills and potions—try these Japanese superfoods to naturally keep your body healthy and your immune system strong by adding these to your next grocery store haul.



Matcha was consumed in Japan long before it was a trending latte flavor—it was first introduced from China by a Japanese Buddhist monk in 1191. Matcha is made from whole, high-quality green tea leaves, de-stemmed and ground down to a powder. The powder is mixed with water so you consume the whole leaf, unlike regular green tea, where the leaves are steeped in hot water then removed.

Matcha is traditionally consumed in tea ceremonies, where the drink is prepared step-by-step with elegance and respect. In modern-day Japan, matcha can be found in assortments of drinks, desserts, candies, and baked goods, and can be recognized by its deep green shade.

Health Benefits

Matcha is packed with antioxidants—up to 137 times more than other types of green tea—which help to reduce cell damage and fight chronic diseases. Drinking matcha may also help protect against heart disease by lowering “bad” cholesterol, and increase your metabolism. Matcha contains a lot of caffeine, about three times more than regular coffee or green tea, so expect heightened brain function, but without the crash: an L-theanine compound also found in matcha alters the caffeine to prevent a crash in energy levels, while also inducing feelings of relaxation.

Savvy Tip

When preparing your own matcha, be sure to use hot, but not boiling, water for mixing (about 80ºC).

2. Miso


Miso is a fermented soybean paste that’s a culinary pillar in Japanese food flavoring. Historically, miso was a luxury ingredient not available to the general population, but today it is found in every Japanese kitchen. Miso comes in a few different types, depending on fermentation duration and secondary ingredients. Shiro (white) miso is all-rounder miso, which is fermented for longer than two months. Shinsu (yellow) miso is mild in taste and fermented for slightly longer than shiro miso. Aka (red) miso, is fermented for up to three years and has a saltier, deeper taste that can easily overpower other flavors. 

Miso is most commonly consumed in Japan as miso shiru or miso soup, when it’s mixed with a fish or seaweed broth and topped with tofu, green onions, and wakame. It’s also commonly used as a marinade or glaze for roasted meat and vegetables. 

Health Benefits

As a fermented food, miso is a great source of probiotics or beneficial bacteria, which increases the health of your gut and enhances your immune system. Miso is also high in protein, in minerals like manganese and zinc, and vitamin E, vitamin K, various B vitamins, and folic acid. Note that miso has high salt content, it is possible to have too much of a good thing! 

3. Yuzu


Yuzu is a citrus fruit that originates in Japan, which tastes like something between a mild lemon and a sharp grapefruit. The inside of the fruit is hardly ever eaten on its own, but the yuzu flavor derived from its juice and peel can be used in numerous ways. 

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© Savvy Tokyo

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The first meaningful article in your recent journalism. Finally something helpful info, instead of panic releasing stuff.

-6 ( +3 / -9 )

it was first introduced from China by a Japanese Buddhist monk in 1191

So, it isn't really a Japanese superfood then, huh?

0 ( +3 / -3 )

You can't 'boost your immune system'. More pseudo science quackery.

9 ( +12 / -3 )

Walk, eat balanced foods and you will be fine, but don’t get political because people are hard headed.

i am going to eat lunch now. Well balanced, salt free.

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

Luddite is right, there is no way to “boost” your immune system. For any reputable media outlet to pander to this fallacy at this time is disgraceful. A healthy balanced and nutritious diet and exercise, yes and by all means highlight the vitamin and nutrition of various foods, though not exclusively, but do not make claims for them that are unjustified and scientifically unsupportable.

7 ( +9 / -2 )

There are some rather angry people out there. And so many people are apparently experts at being experts.

-4 ( +2 / -6 )

Yes, a simply ridiculous claim by scammers. If you really could boost your immune system, wouldn't the company that promises to deliver this be the best ever?

Limit toxins, eat well and live long. Super good advice.

6 ( +6 / -0 )

Sorry...that should read "If you really could boost your immune system, wouldn't the company that could guarantee to deliver this be the best ever?"

5 ( +5 / -0 )

There are some rather angry people out there. And so many people are apparently experts at being experts.

Er no, they're just pointing out that any article with the phrase "boost your immune system" is quack psuedo-science. They're pointing it out now, as the placing of the article at a time where there are so many people anxious and looking to protect themselves, puts them at risk of being scammed. You don't need to be angry or an expert to state that.

Most have also pointed out that all the foods do have some proven health benefits, just no special powers.

4 ( +5 / -1 )

Limit toxins, eat well and live long.

I'm being a bit silly, but shouldn't we consider whether some toxins might be beneficial in preventing the coronavirus? If the virus tends to favor cells that are normally considered healthy (it's a possibility), then should the plan be to reduce the number of those cells.

Sorry, too much time on my hands, and so dreaming of a health diet that involves black pudding, sausages, and a few bottles of wine.

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

Superfoods and boost are just super misleading headers!

Either you have an every day balanced food or not, all the rest is naive belief.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

albaleo, I'll go with your idea of a healthy diet!!!

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Green tea may aid in zinc transport(ionophore) into cells where it is hypothesized to inhibit viral replication:



0 ( +1 / -1 )

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