French stay slender and despite a pasta heavy diet in some regions, Italians remain some of the healthiest people out there. Have you ever wondered why that is?
Hello! Canada turned to nutritionists and asked them to compile some the best foods and diet tips from around the world. Here’s the results! Hopefully you’ll find more than enough to help you in your day to day.
“This is one of the healthiest diets in the world,” says the UK’s leading nutritionist Dr Marilyn Glenville who specializes in women’s health. “The fish is supplying important Omega 3 fatty acids, which are known to reduce the risk of heart disease and strokes. Both the cruciferous vegetables and fermented soya have been shown to reduce the risk of breast cancer as they have a balancing effect on hormones. The Japanese also eat lots of seaweed (sea vegetables) that contains important trace minerals like selenium and iodine for healthy thyroid function. Sushi, the most popular dish in Japan, provides energy but it’s also low in fat and high in omega acids that keeps blood healthy. In general, many Japanese vegetables are unprocessed which means greater levels of vitamins and minerals.” The Mediterranean
The diets in this region are loaded with fruits, veggies, grains, olive oil and seafood. All of these foods are loaded with vitamins and minerals. And yes, it is true that Mediterranean dishes often include meat or cheese but you’ll notice those elements are used in moderation. “High amounts of olive oil lower the levels of total blood cholesterol and fight inflammation. The Mediterranean diet also emphasizes fish high in Omega 3 fatty acids and foods containing antioxidants that can reduce the risk of memory loss and decrease brain function, as we get older,” says Sharon Morey, nutritionist at Quest Vitamins.
The French diet is certainly rich and appears to be high in fat and carbs. Something worth noting is that the French tend to drink red wine with their dinners which is high in resveratrol. “This powerful antioxidant is produced in plants to defend them from invading microorganisms. It can not only protect you from damaging free radicals but it also boosts cell replication. By promoting a healthy, inflammatory response in our body it delays the premature ageing process. A recent study shows that there has never been a drug in the history of pharmaceuticals that speeds up cells regeneration like resveratrol. Another study suggests that it can turn an additional weight into calorie burning ‘brown’ fat,” explains Michela Vagnini, nutritionist. Dr Marilyn Glenville adds: “The French and Italians eat more saturated fat than we do and yet their heart disease rate is lower than in the US and the UK. But they also eat plenty of unsaturated healthy fats contained in olive oil, oily fish, nuts and seeds. Even though they eat a fair amount of pasta and bread (both starchy carbohydrates), when these are eaten with protein such as fish and are combined with oil, this lowers the glycaemic index of the starchy carbohydrates making them healthier.”
The Indian diet contains, hands down, my favourite spice combinations. This is a good thing as these spices go a long way to boosting health. “Turmeric has significant anti-inflammatory effects and helps relieve the symptoms of IBS. Ginger is very effective in easing discomfort in the stomach. It also promotes the elimination of excessive gas from the digestive system and soothes your gut,” explains Adrienne Benjamin, nutritionist. Indians are also known to drink Lassi. “Made of fermented milk and often flavoured with mint or mango, this healthy beverage is rich in ‘friendly bacteria’ and aids digestion,” adds Adrienne.
I have to admit, when looking for diet tips, Iceland would not be on the top of my go-to list. But given the following facts, I think I should reconsider. They use few pesticides and most things are grown locally. Aside from that, they have a diet that utilizes seafood and lean lamb. Their dairy is often of a higher quality, as well due to ancient Nordic knowledge of food preservation. High-quality yogurts with beneficial bacteria are a must in an Icelander’s daily diet. Fresh fish is high in Omega 3 fatty acids, which help keep our hearts and brain healthy. They can help reduce the risk of dementia and Alzheimer’s as well as heart disease and strokes,” says Dr Marilyn Glenville.
The Ethiopian diet is low in fat and comprised mainly of grains. Teff – a whole grain high in fibre, iron, protein and calcium is used to prepare most of the dishes. “Grains are crucial in promoting digestive health and reducing the risk of bowel cancer,” says Dr Glenville. The most famous Ethiopian salad, Azifa, eaten with brown rice or pita bread, consists of green lentil. “Lentils, which are high in fibre and protein but low in fat, are also classed as phytoestrogens with a balancing effect on hormones, both for men and women,” she adds.
“Using chopsticks can help you to slow down while eating, which may ultimately decrease the amount of food eaten. Digestion starts in the mouth and as we chew we are releasing salivary enzymes like amylase that begin the breakdown of food, specifically carbohydrates. The more you chew your food, the smaller the particles will be as they pass into the stomach and the easier they are to digest, meaning you will be getting more nutrients from your food from easier absorption. You will find green tea in every Chinese house, which is their favourite hot drink. It eliminates toxins, aids digestion and curbs cravings. It can also fight free radicals, which cause cancer and heart disease,” says Elouise Bauskis.
I can think of a few ways to make some of these diets work for me. Who’s up for a green tea? Did you spot any tips you could use?