What is the Macrobiotic Diet?

T Thompson

The macrobiotic diet is high in natural, unrefined foods, low in saturated fats, and rich in essential fats. The term "macrobiotics" was first used in the writings of Hippocrates, with "macro" and "bios" being the Greek words for "great life." It is based on the Far-Eastern philosophy of holistic living, in which the body's opposing forces of "yin" and "yang" are balanced, and emphasizes living in harmony with nature.

A macrobiotic diet includes barley.
A macrobiotic diet includes barley.

Grains and vegetables are considered to have the least pronounced yin and yang qualities, and therefore are the most commonly used in the macrobiotic diet. The foods that are considered extremely yin or yang are avoided when possible.

Onions, which are included in a macrobiotic diet.
Onions, which are included in a macrobiotic diet.

The basic macrobiotic diet includes the following balance of foods:

Nuts are included in a macrobiotic diet.
Nuts are included in a macrobiotic diet.

50 percent whole grains: brown rice, wheat, barley, oats, corn, etc.

Avocados should be avoided in the macrobiotic diet.
Avocados should be avoided in the macrobiotic diet.

25 percent seasonal vegetables

Grains are commonly eaten in the macrobiotic diet.
Grains are commonly eaten in the macrobiotic diet.

Corn can be part of a macrobiotic diet.
Corn can be part of a macrobiotic diet.
  • Eat regularly: broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, collards, mustard greens, onion, kale, radishes, turnip greens
  • Eat occasionally: mushrooms, snow peas, celery, iceberg lettuce, string beans.
  • Avoid: peppers, potatoes, tomatoes, eggplant, asparagus, spinach, avocado, beets, and zucchini.
Kale should be a regular part of a macrobiotic diet.
Kale should be a regular part of a macrobiotic diet.

10 percent protein foods - soy products, fish, legumes, etc.

The macrobiotic diet can be severely deficient in calories.
The macrobiotic diet can be severely deficient in calories.

5 percent fruits, nuts, seeds, and drinks.

Beets are to be avoided in the macrobiotic diet.
Beets are to be avoided in the macrobiotic diet.

Excluded foods: Alcohol, Coffee, Sugar, Spices, Meats, Eggs, Cheese

The macrobiotic diet has many health benefits, and has been linked with improvements in many medical conditions, including serious illnesses such as cancer and AIDS. It is also recommended to patients with a high risk of cancer or heart disease, since it is a high fiber, low-fat diet that includes a wide range of vegetables and soy protein.

For anyone considering the macrobiotic diet, it is important to use moderation, since an extreme macrobiotic diet can be deficient in essential vitamins such as B12, calcium, iron, and vitamin D, and can also be severely deficient in calories. This diet is not suitable for children or women who are pregnant or nursing, and a vitamin supplement is probably a good idea for anyone considering trying out a macrobiotic diet for any length of time.

Broccoli and cauliflower are suitable for a macrobiotic diet, while peppers are not.
Broccoli and cauliflower are suitable for a macrobiotic diet, while peppers are not.

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