What Makes Japanese Snacks So Healthy?
Not all Japanese snacks are healthy, but many Japanese snacks are considered a healthy alternative to some western snacks. This is because they are often made with high-quality ingredients that are quite different from what we would typically find in grocery stores in the US and Europe.
For example, popular Japanese snacks such as rice crackers are typically made with white rice flour and not wheat flour. High gluten levels found in wheat flour can be hard on your digestive system and make you feel bloated, unlike rice flour.
Japanese snacks also often include carefully sourced natural ingredients that are free from chemicals and additives. Below are our recommendations for ten healthy Japanese snacks you can try at home including:
- Hoshi Imo Japanese Dried Sweet Potato Snack – a dried Japanese sweet potato snack with a slightly chewy texture and sweet flavor
- Calbee Miino Salted Green Broad Beans Chips – tasty alternative to potato chips made from broad beans
- Marusan Ariake Nori Seaweed Sheets – crunchy high-quality toasted nori sheets sourced from the Ariake Sea
- Umeboshi Japanese Pickled Plums Honey Flavor – a sour and tangy tasting immunity-boosting superfood that packs a punch!
- Hoshigaki Ichidagaki Dried Persimmons – a seasonal delicacy and 100% natural sweet snack made from dried persimmon fruit
- Natural Japanese Dried Scallops – tender, low-calorie seafood snack full of umami flavor
- Ton's Brand Sakanuts – popular high-protein, low fat Japanese snack made of roasted almonds, peanuts, and dried sardines
- Japanese Kobe Beef Jerky– premium jerky product made from authentic Kobe beef
- Sato Cut Mochi Japanese Rice Cake – delicious and chewy Japanese rice cake, low in saturated fat and cholesterol
- Knorr Cup Soup Corn Cream– nourishing and creamy low-calorie instant soup made with sweet corn
Hoshi imo is a dried Japanese sweet potato snack made during a natural process that is similar to making hoshigaki. The sweet potato is steamed, peeled, and sliced, before being left to dry in the sun. Once the sugars appear on the surface as a white dusting, the hoshi imo is ready to eat.
Hoshi imo has a slightly chewy texture and sweet flavor. It is rich in flavor, fiber, vitamins B, C, and E, and is free from cholesterol. Sweet tasting with a smooth texture, this particular snack uses only dried sweet potatoes grown in Ibaraki, the largest producing area of sweet potatoes in Japan. Ibaraki has the ideal conditions for growing sweet potatoes thanks to its fertile soil and dry climate.
Low in carbohydrates and calories, these tasty chips made from plain fried whole broad beans from leading Japanese potato chip manufacturer Calbee are the perfect guilt-free substitute for potato chips.
Lightly salted in flavor and crispy in texture, this healthy snack uses the whole bean to ensure the nutrients such as protein and dietary fiber are retained. The high-quality fava beans used to make Miino are grown almost entirely without the use of pesticides, before they are harvested and the pods are peeled by hand to ensure only the best beans are used. Once the beans pass through quality control, they are shipped to factories where they are fried and seasoned using Calbee’s unique methods.
These crunchy toasted nori sheets make a delicious snack by themselves, or you can use them to make temaki-sushi (hand wrapped sushi). These nori sheets areproduced by Marusan, one of the oldest Japanese companies solely dedicated to nori products, having been founded 130 years ago.
The seaweed is sourced from the Ariake Sea in Southwestern Japan, famous for its high-quality and rich umami flavor. In addition to using nori to make sushi rolls, you could use it as a wrap for sandwiches too.
As for health benefits, nori contains sodium, protein, magnesium, and calcium, and helps to prevent strokes and heart disease by lowering cholesterol levels. Nori also helps your thyroid to function, thanks to its iodine content, and regulates and purifies blood.
If you like a snack that packs a punch, then try these Japanese pickled plums – a sour and tangy tasting immunity-boosting superfood typically consumed during the wintertime. Umeboshi is also a popular ingredient used in vegan dishes thanks to the umami flavor it gives to salad dressings, marinades, and stir-fried vegetables.
Umeboshi is quite versatile and can be eaten whole, ground into paste, or in vinegar. In Japanese cuisine, it is often used as an ingredient in onigiri (Japanese rice balls), bento lunch boxes, ochazuke (steamed white rice partially steeped in green tea or dashi broth), and tempura.
The natural citric acid that occurs during the long pickling of umeboshi is known for its alkalinizing effect on the body, neutralizing fatigue, stimulating digestion, and promoting the elimination of toxins. Umeboshi is also considered to be a popular hangover cure in Japan and contains essential vitamins such as vitamins A, C, B1, B2, E and K, as well as minerals such as iron, copper and zinc which all contribute to your overall health.
This healthy seafood snack is made from dried scallops sourced from the Sea of Okhotsk north of Hokkaido, Japan’s most northern island. The scallops are boiled with salt then dried in the sun to create a tender umami snack full of flavor. They are a popular Japanese bar snack and are often eaten when drinking beer.
Known as hotate hoshi kaibashira in Japanese, these low-calorie dried scallops are believed to be a good source of taurine and vitamin B12 which helps to relieve fatigue and prevent anaemia, as well as a good source of iron.
This popular Japanese snack has been sold in Japan for more than 35 years and features a mixture of roasted almonds, peanuts, and dried sardines. Each bag of Sakanuts is rich in calcium and magnesium, which is essential for strong bones and promoting a healthy heart.
The roasted almonds are mixed with peanuts that have gone through a process to remove the oil and fat resulting in a high protein, low fat snack. The dried sardines are flavored with sesame to provide a complementary taste to the crispy and crunchy nuts. The sardines found in Sakanuts come from the Seto Inland Sea, particularly the small island of Ibuki in Kagawa Prefecture, which is famous in Japan as the largest producer of sardines and anchovies.
This premium-quality wagyu jerky is made from authentic Kobe beef, packed full of umami flavor to create a delicious meaty and chewy snack. This jerky is juicy and tender to eat, allowing you to savor the taste and marbled texture of Japan’s top brand beef. This wagyu jerky had been aged in a special cellar using salt to preserve the beef and is free from additives. Like a fine wine, the jerky holds more flavor as it has had more time to mature.
Kobe beef comes from Japanese Tajima black cattle raised in Hyogo Prefecture, and is known for its flavor, tenderness, and fatty, marbled texture. It is considered to be one of Japan’s best-loved delicacies and is famous around the world. According to the official Kobe Beef Association, Kobe beef was actually first eaten by an Englishman in Japan in the 1800s who bought it from some local farmers. At that time meat was not really eaten by Japanese people, but Kobe beef quickly became popular after that with foreign ships entering Kobe port.
Enjoy one of Japan’s most famous and chewiest delicacies with these delicious mochi rice cakes. Made from 100% Japanese glutinous rice, the Sato Cut Mochi Rice Cakes are individually wrapped to preserve the mochi’s freshness and keep them dry. Each of the 8 square-shaped blocks of rice cakes has little cuts on the surface to make the mochi nice and plump when you roast them.
You can enjoy eating these mochi cakes in a variety of ways, with kinako (roasted soybean powder), wrapped with bacon or nori seaweed, adding it into a soup, or with sweet azuki red bean paste. To make crunchy mochi you can cook it in a pan or toaster oven, or if you prefer your mochi soft and sticky, put it in the microwave. Mochi is quite a healthy snack because it is low in saturated fat and very low in cholesterol.
For a warming winter treat with just 76 calories per serving, try this creamy corn-flavored cup soup from Knorr. A quick bite that can be made instantly by just mixing the contents with hot water, this rich and nourishing soup is made with high-quality corn harvested at the peak of its sweetness and powdered within 24 hours in order to take advantage of the delicious flavor. It be eaten as a standalone snack or as an accompaniment or side dish as part of a larger meal.
This popular seasonal delicacy is a premium product only available to purchase from Japan during December to March each year. Hoshigaki is a completely natural snack formed from dried persimmons that are made during a process which takes around four to six weeks in total.
During this process, the persimmons are left to hang in a sunny space where they remain undisturbed for about a week before they are carefully massaged each day for a few weeks until a powdery white sugar has formed on the surface.
Sweet-tasting and low in fat, this soft and chewy snack can easily be enjoyed by itself with a cup of green tea or added to desserts. The Ichidagaki persimmon is sweeter than other varieties and comes from Nagano prefecture where it has been grown as a regional specialty for more than 500 years.
The Best Place to Buy Healthy Japanese Snacks Online
You can easily find all of the snacks mentioned in this article through the Japanese Taste online store, who specialize in shipping high-quality made in Japan products directly to your door.