The famous Okinawan dish Goya chanpuru, also spelled Goya champuru, is probably the most representative dish in Okinawan cuisine and a favorite among centenerian Okinawan islanders. The Japanese hold the record for most centenarians in the world and boast the longest life expectancy at birth in the world. The island of Okinawa especially takes front stage as one of the world’s few blue zones.
Blue zones are areas in the world where people are most likely to reach and actually live to be 100 years of age and more. In addition to this, they enjoy good health even well into old age, do not take priority medicines and generally do not suffer from disabilities or debilitating chronic illnesses. Intensive research has been conducted on the matter and the aim was to find out what helps some people reach 100 years of age and still be in good health.
The only plausible explanation for why some areas of the world register such high life expectancies at birth as well as an incredible low incidence of chronic disease in the form of cancer, cardiovascular disease, neurodegenerative diseases etc. was found to be a combination of healthy eating and overall good dietary and lifestyle habits. As far as Okinawan cuisine is concerned, it is believed that a popular traditional dish called Goya chanpuru (alternate spelling: Goya champuru) is responsible for the incredible longevity of Okinawans.
Islanders enjoy this type of dish almost daily and they themselves are firmly convinced that it contributes greatly to their health and longevity. Goya chanpuru is not only highly representative of the traditional Okinawan diet way of eating, but is also a major part of the Okinawan centenarians’ diet. What is goya chanpuru more exactly? Goya chanpuru is a mixed, stir-fry dish typical of the Okinawan diet. ‘Chanpuru’ itself means ‘something mixed, mix’ in Okinawan, while ‘Goya’ refers to a bitter melon variety, Momordica charantia. Goya chanpuru itself is a variation of the dish, with goya being an ingredient used prevalently in Okinawan cuisine.
What does Goya chanpuru contain? Goya champuru is a traditional Okinawan dish and thus contains typical Okinawan ingredients:
1) Bitter melon (goya).
2) Okinawan tofu (soybean curd).
3) Eggs (either chicken eggs or the healthier quail eggs).
4) Thin slices of pork.
5) Vegetables such as soy sprouts, mung bean sprouts, sweet potato slices or carrots.
While the bitter melon is typical of the dish, the other vegetables are optional and are selected according to personal preference. Sweet potatoes, also frequently used in Okinawan cuisine, may be added to the dish. Goya chanpuru with mung bean sprouts or soy sprouts is also known as Mamina chanpuru. It is also common to substitute the pork slices with canned pork or thin goat meat slices. All the ingredients are stir-fried in sesame oil, resulting in the delicious and surprisingly healthy mixed-dish known as Goya chanpuru.
The central ingredient of the dish, goya or the bitter melon, is used abundently not only in Goya chanpuru, but also in numerous other Okinawan dishes. Because of its bitterness, goya is an acquired taste and first-timers might find the vegetable hard to enjoy. Overall, Goya chanpuru is quite the healthy dish, nutritious, delicious and satiating. Here are 4 impressive health benefits and nutrition facts of Goya chanpuru:
1) Rich antioxidant source. Many of the ingredients in Goya chanpuru provide excellent amounts antioxidants. Sweet potatoes and goya (bitter melon), for example, contain generous amounts of vitamin A, beta-carotene and vitamin C, compounds that maintain healthy mucous membranes (eyes, mouth, nose, throat, stomach lining) and protect against free radical damage to cells and tissues. The nutrients are also vital for a strong immune system.
2) Great source of vitamins and minerals. Pork and goat meat are rich in protein and B vitamins, particularly the much-needed vitamin B12. Goat cheese contains good amounts of calcium and helps maintain our gut bacteria healthy. Sweet potatoes and carrots are wonderful sources of vitamin A, goya is rich in vitamin C, while eggs contain vitamins A and D, choline, vitamins B2, B5, B12, phosphorus and all the essential amino acids. The more ingredients you add, the healthier Goya chanpuru becomes.
3) High protein content. Pork meat, goat meat, eggs and cheese are all important sources of protein. Eggs, for example, are one of the few complete protein sources, containing all the essential amino acids. Goat cheese is also an excellent source of quality protein. Pork and goat meat, even in the small amounts required by Goya chanpuru recipes, provide important amounts of protein as well.
4) Good source of healthy fats. Goya champuru recipes call for ingredients such as pork and goat meat, cheese and eggs. All of these ingredients are a rich source of fats, both unsaturated and saturated. Sesame oil is around 80% unsaturated fats and rich in antioxidants, making it particularly healthy for both the nervous and the cardiovascular system. But the fact that only very small amounts of these ingredients are required makes Goya champuru a healthy dish, providing much needed fatty acids that our brain most of all needs.
Overall, Goya chanpuru is a healthy dish, rich in important nutrients and antioxidants. In addition to being packed with vitamins, minerals and antioxidant compounds, the dish is nutritious and satiating due to the fact that it contains carbohydrates, proteins as well as healthy fats from the vegetables, meat and oil used. You can also notice that the dish has a moderate to low caloric value, typical of traditional Okinawan cuisine. If you remember, it was estimated that the average Okinawa islander had a BMI of only 20, a figure complimented by a low-calorie, nutrient and antioxidant-rich diet such as the traditional Okinawan diet. How can you not live to be a 100 years old with such healthy eating?