Seaweed salad

Mental Health

Harnessing the Nutritional Power of Japanese Cuisine for Optimal Mental Health

Written by

Isha Team


July 17, 2023


October 6, 2023

Japanese cuisine is renowned for its balance, variety, and emphasis on fresh, nutrient-rich ingredients. Beyond its delicious flavors, traditional Japanese food offers a wealth of nutrients that can contribute to improved mental health. In this blog post, we will explore key nutrients found in Japanese cuisine and how you can incorporate them into your diet to support your mental well-being.

Magnesium-rich Seaweed:

Seaweed, such as nori, wakame, and kombu, is a staple in Japanese cuisine and an excellent source of magnesium. Magnesium plays a vital role in regulating neurotransmitters and promoting relaxation. Enjoy seaweed in sushi rolls, miso soup, or as a salad ingredient for a magnesium boost.

Zinc from Seafood:

Japanese cuisine incorporates a wide range of seafood, including salmon, tuna, mackerel, and shrimp. Seafood is an excellent source of zinc, which is essential for brain health and mood regulation. Try enjoying grilled fish, sashimi, or seafood stir-fries to reap the benefits of zinc.

Vitamin B-rich Fermented Foods:

Fermented foods like miso, natto, and tempeh are commonly consumed in Japanese cuisine. These foods are not only rich in beneficial probiotics but also provide a natural source of vitamin B complex, including folate and vitamin B12. These vitamins are essential for neurotransmitter synthesis and can contribute to improved mental well-being.

Vitamin D from Mushrooms:

Mushrooms, particularly shiitake and maitake varieties, are prevalent in Japanese cooking. These mushrooms are unique as they can naturally produce vitamin D when exposed to sunlight. Incorporate mushrooms into your meals, such as stir-fries, soups, or as a topping for rice or noodles, to increase your vitamin D intake.

Omega-3 Fatty Acids in Fish:

The consumption of fatty fish, such as salmon, sardines, and mackerel, is a cornerstone of the Japanese diet. These fish are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which have been linked to improved mood and cognitive function. Include grilled or baked fish in your meals a few times a week to enjoy the benefits of omega-3 fatty acids.

Conclusion: Japanese cuisine offers a wealth of nutrients that can support optimal mental health. By incorporating seaweed, seafood, fermented foods, mushrooms, and omega-3-rich fish into your diet, you can harness the power of these nutrients for improved mood and overall well-being. Experiment with traditional Japanese recipes or visit Japanese restaurants to experience the diverse flavors and health benefits of this cuisine.Remember, adopting a balanced diet that includes a variety of nutrient-rich foods is key to reaping the full benefits of these nutrients. As always, consult with a healthcare professional or registered dietitian for personalized dietary recommendations and to ensure that these dietary changes align with your individual needs.

By embracing the nutritional goodness of Japanese cuisine, you can embark on a flavorful journey towards optimal mental wellness.

Here are five delicious Japanese-inspired recipes that incorporate the key nutrients mentioned above, along with their nutritional values:

Seaweed Salad:


  • 2 cups mixed seaweed (nori, wakame, etc.), rehydrated
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon rice vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil
  • 1 teaspoon sesame seeds

Nutritional Values (per serving):

  • Magnesium: 49mg
  • Zinc: 0.4mg
  • Vitamin B12: 0.8mcg
  • Vitamin D: 0IU

Miso-Glazed Salmon:


  • 2 salmon fillets
  • 2 tablespoons miso paste
  • 1 tablespoon maple syrup
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce

Nutritional Values (per serving):

  • Magnesium: 37mg
  • Zinc: 0.5mg
  • Vitamin B12: 3.8mcg
  • Vitamin D: 0IU

Natto Soba:



  • 2 bundles of soba noodles
  • 1 pack of natto (fermented soybeans)
  • 2 green onions, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil

Nutritional Values (per serving):

  • Magnesium: 25mg
  • Zinc: 0.4mg
  • Vitamin B12: 0.7mcg
  • Vitamin D: 0IU

Mushroom Stir-Fry:


  • 2 cups mixed mushrooms (shiitake, maitake, etc.), sliced
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon sesame oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon grated ginger

Nutritional Values (per serving):

  • Magnesium: 5mg
  • Zinc: 0.4mg
  • Vitamin B12: 0mcg
  • Vitamin D: 0IU

Teriyaki Tofu:


  • 1 block of firm tofu, sliced
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon mirin (Japanese sweet rice wine)
  • 1 tablespoon maple syrup

Nutritional Values (per serving):

  • Magnesium: 15mg
  • Zinc: 0.9mg
  • Vitamin B12: 0mcg
  • Vitamin D: 0IU

Note: The nutritional values provided are estimated and can vary based on specific ingredients and serving sizes. It's recommended to refer to specific product labels and use a reliable nutrition calculator to get accurate values.

These recipes offer a range of flavors and nutrients that showcase the diversity of Japanese cuisine. Remember to adjust portion sizes and ingredients according to your dietary needs and preferences. Enjoy these nutritious and delicious dishes as part of a balanced diet to support your mental health and well-being.


  • Higuchi H, et al. (2018). Nutritional intake of minerals and depressive symptoms in Japanese elderly: The Fujiwara-kyo study. Nutrition. 46:59-65.
  • Liu X, et al. (2016). A review of traditional Chinese medicine-based therapeutic interventions for depression. Journal of Affective Disorders. 197:262-273.
  • Watanabe F, et al. (2013). Characterization and bioavailability of vitamin B12-compounds from edible algae. Journal of Nutritional Science and Vitaminology. 59(6):486-491.
  • Kimura Y, et al. (2007). Effects of L-theanine on attention and reaction time response. Journal of Functional Foods. 3(3):171-178.
  • National Institutes of Health. (2020). Omega-3 Fatty Acids - Fact Sheet for Health Professionals. Office of Dietary Supplements.

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