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The Japanese Way: Long-Living Japanese Eat Much More Fish Than Americans

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Reporting from Japan for this NY1 series on Japanese nutrition and healthcare, Health Reporter Erin Billups looks at the Japanese tradition of eating fresh vegetables and raw, fresh fish.

TOKYO, JAPAN—The average Japanese woman can expect to live 87 years, the longest life expectancy in the world.

The World Health Organization says Japanese men live to about 80.

The U.S. doesn't even make the top ten.

The secret to long life in Japan starts with their diets—one of the most important elements, says this salesman, is fish.

"I might be biased about fish, but I would say fish is largely responsible," says Yoshinobu Yoshihashi, Senior Vice President at Yoshizen Corporation.

Yoshihashi runs a shop at Tsukiji Fish Market, the largest wholesale fish market in the world.

Even as diets change in Japan, fish and fresh vegetables are still a central part of the cuisine.

The average Japanese person consumes more than double the amount of seafood than the Average American.

During a rapid auction, licensed bidders buy a majority of fish and vegetables for grocery stores and restaurants, in a matter of minutes.

"By eating vegetables, the body condition becomes very good, and also, you know, as a plus, it helps with meat and fish digestion and absorption," says Yoshiharu Kondo, President of Masayoshi Fruits & Vegetables, Inc.

Many of the fish and vegetables bought here at the crack of dawn are prepared in meals served all around Tokyo later that day.

Tourists come from all over to get a taste of fresh Japanese dishes.

Nick Mangkalakiri is from Los Angeles, California.

"This one came up as highly recommended," Mangkalakiri says of the shop Sushi-Bun.

Sushi-Bun is one of several restaurants located inside the fish market that are known and prized for continuing the tradition of serving the freshest, in-season food.

"You can tell it's very, very fresh" Mangkalakiri says.

"Overseas and frozen—no such thing," says the chef at Sushi-Bun.

Maki Isogai is the fifth generation owner of the restaurant.

"We just do what our parents or grandparents did, the same things. Nowadays, we’re losing the traditional style," Isogai says.

Sellers at Tsukiji say they are seeing a difference.

"The old days were not like this. Walking through was very difficult—that many customers were here. What I observe now is sad," says fish shop owner Kazuo Miyauchi. ClientIP: UserAgent: CCBot/2.0 ( Profile: TWCSAMLSP