The Japanese diet is generally very, very healthy, but often times also very high in sodium. Add to that daily stress and cigarettes (which a lot of Japanese people still smoke), and you have a perfect recipe for high blood pressure. So what to do if you can't lay off the salty, flavorful bowl of ramen after a night of drinking? Easy! Pour some milk in it!

Despite having high sodium content in so much of their staple foods and condiments, Japan still boasts one of the highest life expectancies in the world. But with all that soy sauce and ramen, you have to wonder how people live so long over there. Soy sauce, for example, is loaded with sodium. Loaded. And every household has soy sauce in the kitchen or out on the dining table. Somen noodles, which I though were healthy, have a lot of sodium, even without the sodium rich soy sauce and fish flake based soup. I looked at the back of a packet of somen noodles at a Japanese supermarket and saw that it had a whopping 73% of the daily recommended sodium in one serving of noodles! (In Japan, percentages aren't written on the packets, only how much content by weight.) So most people don't even understand or care to understand how much salt is in their food.

No wonder high blood pressure is becoming more and more of a problem. Besides many Japanese eating more red meat, the daily stress of modern life, cigarettes and lack of exercise are all contributing to a surge in blood pressure for many. But researchers have found that lowering your blood pressure doesn't have to involve giving up your sodium rich meals. All you have to do is add milk. Ramen, one of the saltiest things you can eat, is apparently a lot healthier if you pour some milk in your soup. The rich flavor of the soup will still be there, and many claim it even tastes better, thicker, and a tad milder with milk in it. The milk somehow absorbs the sodium and even gets you full quicker while preventing the dry mouth you usually get after eating a salty bowl of ramen. You can pour milk on your natto (fermented soy beans) and even simmer your canned mackerel in milk to enjoy a nice meal without having to worry about sodium.

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So for those worried about their blood pressure, maybe take some milk with you the next time you go out to eat some noodles!

Green tea, natto beans and milk over rice: