Diet secrets from the world's healthiest countries!
Although bread and cheese are staples in the French diet, residents of the country generally consume foods differently than Americans, opting for smaller portion sizes eaten at mealtimes, rather than snacks or binges. (iStock)
Want to live a long, healthy life? Move to South Korea.
In a study from Imperial College London, published in the journal the Lancet in late February, researchers projected the life expectancy for men and women born in 35 industrialized countries in the year 2030. The study authors used 21 different forecasting models to analyze death rates across various age groups over the past 50-plus years, resulting in predictions that they believe are the most accurate statistics available.
The good news: The study predicts life expectancy will increase in all 35 countries. South Korea is expected to take the top spot for both women and men, with projected life expectancies of 90.8 and 84, respectively.
The bad news: The USA came in dead last in its cohort, with the lowest predicted life expectancy out of all high-income industrialized countries — an average of 83.3 years for women, and 79.5 years for men.
Although the study doesn’t dig deep into why citizens of certain countries can expect longer life spans than others, co-author James Bennett tells The Post that high-ranking countries do have some commonalities, such as access to health care, low smoking rates and healthy diets.
Below, the life-extending staples that keep these top countries ticking.
Bennett cites Korea’s traditional diet as one reason why its citizens are expected to live so long.
That’s thanks in part to kimchee, a popular Korean condiment that’s served with most meals. The fermented vegetable mix is packed with gut-healthy probiotics — which can help your body fight off disease — as well as filling fiber and antioxidants.
Other South Korean staples include bibimbap, a popular dish of rice, vegetables, red pepper paste, egg and a small amount of meat.
Plus, says Bennett, South Korea’s recent economic growth has made health care more accessible “across the whole population,” leading to “huge gains” in its life expectancy standing.
France isn’t exactly known as a health-food mecca — the country is synonymous with baguettes, croissants and healthy pats of butter. Still, its citizens tend to live long lives, with a projected life expectancy of 88.6 years for women and 81.7 for men for those born in 2030.
“What’s fascinating is that many of the foods that Americans avoid, like foods that are high in carbs or saturated fat, are things you see in a French diet,” says Danielle Rehfeld, a personal chef who specializes in global cuisine.
But the French generally consume foods differently than Americans, opting for smaller portion sizes eaten at mealtimes, rather than snacks or binges.
It also helps that they tend to see meals as social events.
“It’s not just what you’re eating, it’s how you’re eating,” says nutritionist Rosenthal. “If you’re eating while you’re watching TV, you don’t realize how much food you ate — you’re unconscious.”
And staying connected with friends and family has been shown to aid in healthy aging — as does the easy access to health care and social services that the French enjoy.