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In a lot of ways, Japan’s equivalent to the hamburger is the beef bowl, or “gyudon” as the locals call it. Tasty, fortifying, and cheap, beef bowls are so prevalent and popular in Japan that they essentially have their own strata in the personal food pyramids of many college students and bachelors.

Realizing that much of its customers’ bodies are literally made out of beef bowls, Japan’s largest gyudon chain is now embarking on a research project to investigate what happens after three months of eating the dish.

While there are those who’re partial to the citrus-seasoned beef of Sukiya or swayed by the free miso soup that comes with every beef bowl at Matsuya, the largest gyudon chain, by far, is Yoshinoya. As a matter of fact, Yoshinoya has been the beef bowl standard-bearer for so many years that the company has recently started tweaking its menu to be a little healthier.

Compared to some Western fast food options, beef bowls actually don’t seem too terribly unhealthy. The standard variety consists of a bowl of rice topped with stewed onions and strips of beef. There’s a lower quantity of meat than what you’re likely to find in a typical hamburger, and the meal is devoid of any deep-fried components like French fries. Still, the beef isn’t the leanest, and while it’s nice to have some veggies, your body would probably appreciate having a little more variety than just onions.

In other words, there are points to be made on both the pro and con sides of the gyudon health debate, and to see which ones are more valid Yoshinoya is starting a new research project in which it will partner with outside institutions for the first time. Among the areas it will be investigating are the effects on blood-sugar level after eating a beef bowl and the overall effects on the body after eating gyudon for three months. The data gathered will be used by Yoshinoya to aid in developing new menu items that better fit with the health attitudes of diners.

The fist organization Yoshinoya will be teaming up with is Kyoto’s Doshisha University. It’s unclear just how frequently the test subjects will be eating beef bowls over the three months, but we imagine researchers will have no trouble finding volunteers on a college campus.

Source: Nikkei Keizai Shimbun via Jin
Top image: Yoshinoya (edited by RocketNews24)