As incomes steadily increase globally, traditional diets have been displaced by diets that are usually animal-based with a high content of “empty calories” or refined sugars, refined fats, and alcohol. Dietary transition coupled with the expansion of urbanization and lower physical activity have been linked to the global growth in the prevalence of obesity, overweight and life style-related non-communicable diseases. The challenge is in how to reverse the trend of high consumption of less healthy food by more healthful and more environmentally sustainable diets. The increasing recognition that each individual has specific needs depending on age, metabolic condition, and genetic profile adds complexity to general nutritional considerations. If we were to promote the consumption of low-energy and low salt but nutritious diets, taste becomes a relevant food quality. The Japanese traditional diet (Washoku), which is characterized by high consumption of fish and soybean products and low consumption of animal fat and meat, relies on the effective use of umami taste to enhance palatability. There may be a link between Washoku and the longevity of the people in Japan. Thus Washoku and umami may be valuable tools to support healthy eating.
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