What is a macrobiotic diet and how will it change my life?

A macrobiotic diet is so much more than just another variation of a vegetarian diet, though it might look the same at first.

While a macrobiotic diet is generally vegetarian in nature, it consists of wholegrains, cereals, cooked vegetables and just a touch of meat and fish.

Think of it as a heart-healthy Japanese diet - without the tempura!

Adherents of the macrobiotic diet prefer locally-grown, natural, organic foods prepared and eaten in simple ways, such as baking, boiling and steaming. Chemically-processed foods are not allowed - this includes items such as coffee, chocolate, refined flour and preservatives.

According to Great Eastern Life, the essential aim of a macrobiotic diet is to balance the yin and yang in one's diet, so spicy foods or other stimulating/concentrated foods that might upset nature's delicate balance (such as alcohol) are not allowed.

Brown rice and grains such as barley, millet, oats and quinoa are considered to be very "balanced", and play a large role in a macrobiotic diet.

Vegetables from the nightshade family, however, including tomatoes, eggplant, avocados, peppers, potatoes, are considered extremely yin. Thus, they are often excluded or used sparingly.

How does it work?

The emphasis on unprocessed foods, as well as fruit and vegetables, means that a macrobiotic diet can be excellent for your health, especially when it comes to your heart. The macrobiotic diet is low in saturated fats and bad cholesterol, thus lowering your risk of heart disease.

Some followers of a macrobiotic diet claim that the diet is effective in treating cancer. There is no scientific proof, but low-fat, high-fibre diets that consist mainly of plant products are thought to reduce the risk of disease and some forms of cancer.

In fact, the link is so strong that the National Centre for Complementary and Alternative Medicine in the United States has funded a pilot study to determine whether a macrobiotic diet may prevent cancer.

I'd like to give it a try

Because processed foods are frowned upon, vitamin and mineral supplements are not allowed within a macrobiotic diet.

Nutritionists recommend that you seek advice before embarking on a macrobiotic diet to ensure you balance the yin and yang, as well as the nutritional elements of your diet to avoid vitamin or mineral deficiencies.

To get started, try incorporating these top 10 macrobiotic superfoods into your regular meals: