We all try to lead with our best foot forward when it comes to healthy eating, but which countries are taking home the gold when it comes to nutrition? Here are some of the most nutritious places around the world.
Traditional Greek cuisine emphasizes unsaturated fats, vegetables, fish, grains, and legumes. It also includes staple ingredients of many Mediterranean cuisines like fresh fruits and vegetables, olive oil, and yogurt. Additionally, Greek cuisine contains very little meat, which reduces the consumption of saturated fats. This means the nutritional value of their food is very high, especially in omega-3s from common ingredients such as peppers, chickpeas, and sardines.
According to a study performed by the medical journal The Lancet, Israel has the lowest number of diet-related deaths in the entire world (Type 2 diabetes, high cholesterol, etc.). The country’s citizens have a diet rich in legumes, fish, eggplants, and olive oil. The careful spicing of their foods not only adds flavor but also adds nutritional value by boosting the metabolism and aiding in digestion. Some common ingredients such as tahini and mint also include boosts in vitamins A and C, folic acid, zinc, calcium, and manganese. Studies have even shown that the diets of Israelis improve with age, meaning that adults in their 50s and 60s are eating even healthier foods.
Sweden is second among the Nordic countries in terms of life expectancy, largely due to the country’s diet which is low in carbs and high in the right kinds of fats. Rather than containing large quantities of fruits and vegetables, the Swedish diet instead emphasizes rich dark bread, dairy, fish, and berries. These foods, which are rich in fiber and antioxidants, work together to burn fat. The food quality is high as well, with Swedish meat and dairy products coming from animals that have eaten well during their lives. And, according to Culture Trip, 50 percent of Swedes enjoy daily long walks, and almost 30 percent of people living in the cities regularly walk to and from work.
Thanks to a combination of exercise and diet, Japan has one of the oldest populations in the world and one-third of Japan’s living population is older than 65. The Japanese diet is rich in fruit and vegetables and staples such as green tea, seaweed, soy foods, yams, and shiitake mushrooms. These foods have plenty of benefits such as being rich in calcium, iron, zinc, copper, antioxidants, and omega-3s. The eating practices in Japan also contribute to the overall nutritional health of its citizens. Many foods are often steamed or quick-fried and citizens adopt the Japanese practice of Hara Hachi Bu (eating until you’re 80% full) which has been shown to reduce the prevalence of disease and promote overall longevity.
Considered to be one of the most nutritious and healthiest countries in the world, the citizens of Spain put an emphasis on freshness and locality when it comes to cuisine. The Spanish diet focuses on fresh vegetables, olive oil, beans, seafood, and oily fish. A big reason that Spanish cuisine is so healthy is also due to their portion control. Tapas dishes are a common style of eating and these small portions of tasty and healthful foods leave you full and satisfied within calorie limits. The Spanish diet is high in fiber and low in fat, with certain foods like Gazpacho packing extra health benefits such as cancer-fighting lycopene and antioxidants.