The macrobiotic diet has gained popularity not only for its weight loss results but also for its holistic approach to wellness and disease prevention. Most of the recommended foods on the diet are high phytoestrogen foods, which have been shown to fight cancer. However, further studies are needed to directly link a macrobiotic diet to cancer prevention and treatment.
Macrobiotic Grain Bowl with Steamed Veggies, Adzuki Beans, Kimchi and Ginger Tahini Dressing
- Prep Time: 10 minutes
- Cook Time: 40 minutes
- Total Time: 50 minutes
- Yield: 2 1x
For the Bowl
- 1/2 cup Lundburg Organic Brown Rice
- 3 cup chard, roughly chopped
- 1 cup squash, diced
- 1 cup broccoli florets
- 1 cup Eden Organic Black Beans
- 1 oz Emerald Cove Pacific Kombu
- 1/2 cup Eden Organic Kimchi Sauerkraut, chopped
For the Sauce
For the Bowl:
- Bring 1 cup water to a boil for rice. Once boiling, add rice, return to boil, cover then reduce heat and simmer 40 minutes. Remove from heat and allow to sit covered an additional 10 minutes then fluff with fork
- Thoroughly rinse and drain beans, then transfer to a pot with kombu, cover with water, bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer 15-20 minutes then drain and rinse
- Place a steamer basket in a pot with water and bring to a boil
- Add broccoli, cover and steam 4-5 minutes then remove, keeping water in pot
- Add squash, cover and steam 4-5 minutes then remove, keeping water in pot
- Add chard, cover and steam 3-4 minutes, then remove
For the Sauce
- In a high speed blender, combine all ingredients and puree until smooth
- Serving Size: 1 bowl
- Calories: 519.6
- Sugar: 4.6
- Sodium: 2034.5
- Fat: 10.2
- Saturated Fat: 1.3
- Unsaturated Fat: 6.8
- Trans Fat: 0.1
- Carbohydrates: 92.7
- Fiber: 25.3
- Protein: 19.6
- Cholesterol: 0
Keywords: gluten free, dairy free, vegan, egg free, oil free
The diet is predominantly plant-based with a ratio of 20-30% whole grains, 5-10% beans and 40-60% vegetables, with the addition of fermented foods and sea vegetables. It focuses on low fat, high fiber, high complex carbohydrates and avoids nightshades and animal products. These compositions vary based on individual needs and health status. Followers of the diet are encouraged to shop locally, eat in season and always choose fresh, organic foods when possible (1).
Whole grains that are encouraged include brown rice, barley, millet, oats, wheat, corn, rye and buckwheat. A regular consumption of sea vegetables is also promoted in the forms of nori, wakame and kombu, all of which have the potential to make bean digestion easier. Fruits, white fish, seeds and nuts should be consumed less often than the other recommended foods, limiting them to just a few times per week (2).
Foods to be avoided on the macrobiotic diet include meat, poultry, animal fats, eggs, dairy, refined sugar, artificial sweeteners and chemical additives. Genetically modified or conventionally grown produce are both discouraged (2).
But, like so many modern diets, this is more than just a way of eating: The macrobiotic diet is a way of living. The food recommendations are accompanied by a spiritual philosophy focusing on the whole self, increased physical activity, stress reduction and reduced exposure to pesticides and electromagnetic radiation. Michio Kushi, one of the largest proponents of the diet, describes macrobiotics as “the universal way of life with which humanity has developed biologically, psychologically, and spiritually and with which we will maintain our health, happiness, and peace (2).”
Macrobiotic Diet vs Average American Diet
A comprehensive study comparing the macrobiotic diet to the established Recommended Daily Allowances (RDA) and the average American diet was conducted to evaluate the anti-inflammatory potential of this diet. The average American diet was based on the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey known as NHANES. Calories, macronutrients, micronutrients and Dietary Inflammation Index scores were evaluated between the three diets.
The Dietary Inflammation Index (DII) is a recently developed tool to categorize diets based on their inflammatory characteristics. A high DII score is indicative of a pro-inflammatory diet while a low or negative score is indicative of an anti-inflammatory diet. It was developed based on well-established inflammatory markers (3).
In comparison to the average American diet based on NHANES, the calorie composition of the macrobiotic diet was shown to be lower in percentage of calories from fat and high in percentage of calories from carbohydrates. Additionally, the average American diet is composed of approximately 4 times more saturated fat and 2 times more sugar than the macrobiotic diet. The high fiber focus of the macrobiotic diet makes it 4-5 times higher than the average American diet and the focus on whole foods provides a higher amount of most of the 28 evaluated micronutrients (4).
When compared to the RDA, the macrobiotic diet met or exceeded the RDA of most marconutrients and micronutrients, with the exception of Vitamin D, B12, Calcium and lycopene. This is presumed to be due to the exclusion of meat and nightshades (4).
Using the DII, it was established that the macrobiotic diet is much more anti-inflammatory than the average American diet, putting it in the 25th percentile for inflammatory properties. To contrast, the average American diet is in the 75th percentile for inflammation (4).
Research has shown that a reduction in inflammation is essential to cancer prevention. It has proven especially important to focus on foods with anti-inflammatory properties to achieve this inflammatory balance (5). Further, cancer prevention recommendations include a high vegetable and high whole grain diet, similar to the focus of the macrobiotic diet (6, 7). Additionally, the low calorie focus contributes to weight loss. As overweight and obesity have been linked the chronic inflammation, this characteristic is another step toward disease prevention in the macrobiotic diet (8).
While a direct link to cancer prevention has not been scientifically established for the macrobiotic diet, other health benefits have been proven. Studies have proven the macrobiotic diet’s ability to lower serum lipid levels and blood sugar (1). Positive effects on body weight, lipid values, oxidative stress and insulin secretion have also been observed (9). These studies indicate a potential for the macrobiotic diet to be used in disease prevention.
While there have been multiple studies showing the health promoting promise of the macrobiotic diet, there are also a few health concerns among nutrition professionals. The macrobiotic diet tends to be low calorie and does not adequately meet all recommended vitamin and nutrient requirements. As we mentioned, the diet has been found to be low in Vitamin D, B12, calcium and lycopene. Additionally, it is high in both phosphorus and sodium due to the high intake of pickles, fermented foods, whole grains and sea vegetables. The combination of low-calcium and high-phosphorous can have a negative impact on bone and cardiovascular health (10).
Our macrobiotic bowl is based on a classic macrobiotic diet. If you have trouble digesting beans or are lectin sensitive, try cooking them in the pressure cooker or soaking overnight and rinsing well before cooking. We like Eden Organic beans, as they are packed with kombu, a seaweed that has been shown to help break down beans to make them more digestible. To further this benefit, we add another sheet of kombu in this recipe. Since the macrobiotic diet calls for seaweed with each meal, this is an added bonus. For folks avoiding histamines, skip the kimchi. If you’re grain-free, try it with cauliflower rice or some roasted sweet potatoes.
1–2 times per week
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