Shari-yasai, a sushi-like dish using pickled daikon in place of vinegared rice, is offered at Kurasushi in Itabashi Ward, Tokyo. (PHOTO / THE JAPAN NEWS)
TOKYO - Restaurants and retailers are trying to reduce the carbohydrates in their foods with an eye on the increasing number of people who are trimming carbs from their diets to lose weight or avoid lifestyle-related diseases.
Bread, rice and noodles are among the foods that are high in carbohydrates.
Kura Corporation, the operator of conveyor-belt sushi restaurant Kurasushi, began offering so-called shari-yasai at the end of August, with fish pieces topped on pickled daikon or other vegetables instead of the vinegared rice normally used in sushi.
“This is healthier than vinegared rice. Daikon is crisp and tasty,” said a 72-year-old woman as she popped a piece of shari-yasai into her mouth at the Kurasushi outlet in Itabashi Ward, Tokyo.
Restaurant chain Gusto began using Chinese noodles with spinach and chlorella algae kneaded in for some of its recipes. The low-carb dish costs ¥100 more than normal noodles, but it is “selling better than the company expected,” according to a spokesperson, as the special noodles have about 25 percent fewer carbs.
FamilyMart Co. cooperated with gym operator Rizap to develop low-carb pasta and desserts that it sells at its stores. Lawson Inc. has displayed the amount of carbohydrates contained in its sandwiches and other products since April in response to the many customers who are concerned about their carbohydrate intake.
According to a survey by Fuji Keizai Co., the “carb-free” market in 2016 is estimated to be ¥343.1 billion, up about 40 percent from 2012.
Amid the growing popularity of low-carb foods, it should be noted that excessive restriction of carb intake may negatively affect one’s health.
Hajime Haimoto, a doctor who chairs the Japan Low-Carbohydrate Diet Society, said: “Cutting down on carbohydrates will help prevent diabetes and obesity, but what’s important is balanced diet and exercise.”