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Macrobiotic Diet

From the Greek for "great life," macrobiotic dieters believe that the key to a long, healthy life is a balanced diet.

By Zeel Editorial Staff, Last updated: August 15, 2012

Macrobiotic Diet Overview

From the Greek for "great life," macrobiotic dieters believe that the key to a long, healthy life is a balanced diet. Macrobiotics have spiritual ties to Eastern traditions, proposing that all ingredients harness specific energies that are either "yin," "yang," or—ideally—a balance of the two.

Yin foods are fresh, cold, and sweet, and promote passive behaviors in the people who eat them. Fruit, sugar, and honey are particularly yin. Yang foods, on the other hand, are salty, spicy, hot, and cause aggressive behavior. Red meat, poultry, and cheese are very yang.

The goal for macrobiotic dieters is to eat food that is not too yin or too yang. Foods that are particularly "balanced" and macrobiotic-friendly are brown rice, whole grains, beans, vegetables, and sea vegetables, such as seaweed.

When invented: Macrobiotic diets have been around in some shape or form since at least the 19th century - some historians say the underlying methodology can even be traced to Hippocrates.

Macrobiotics did not become popular in the United States until the mid-1960s.

Who invented it: George Ohsawa is credited as the official founder of macrobiotics, even though the idea was developed much earlier. But it was Michio and Aveline Kushi - Japanese-born macrobiotic devotees—who really established the diet in the U.S.

As the story goes, when Aveline migrated to the United States from Japan in 1951, she was shocked at how unhealthy Americans were. Aveline opened one of the first health food stores on U.S. soil to provide healthy, macrobiotic foods.

Length of diet plan: The macrobiotic diet is meant to be a lifelong commitment.

Celebrity Devotees

Madonna has said that her personal chef cooks strictly macrobiotic meals. Gwyneth Paltrow also follows the macrobiotic lifestyle, raving about the diet's advantages in her e-newsletter GOOP. Another reported fan is Renee Zellweger, who went macrobiotic in order to shed the weight she put on for her role in Bridge Jones's Diary.

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