Looking to eat healthier? Look to these international influences for inspiration
We all look for healthier ways to eat from time to time, or just expand our food horizons. If you’re looking to shake things up a bit, consider incorporating some of these healthy eating habits from other cultures around the world.
GREECE. The health benefits of the Mediterranean diet are frequently documented in medical journals and the general media. Traditional Mediterranean cuisine includes lots of fruits, veggies, whole grains, and legumes, plus small amounts of meat, fish, dairy and olive oil.
MEXICO. Traditional Mexican culture includes almuerzo, a midday feast that’s the largest meal of the day. Recent research suggests that eating a big meal late in the evening could be a culprit behind gaining weight. Consider making breakfast or lunch your biggest meal of the day.
SWEDEN. Swedish cuisine tends to go lighter on the veggies, but it still has several healthy elements. Rye bread is a staple — and it’s loaded with fiber, which helps keep you fuller longer. Try making a sandwich on rye for a fiber-rich alternative to white or whole-wheat bread.
INDIA. Indian cuisine features tons of spices, which add great flavor, appealing color and several health benefits. Spices like turmeric, ginger and red pepper may help to lower cholesterol. Frequently used aromatics like onions and garlic can also lower your risk of heart disease.
ETHIOPIA. Injera, a traditional Ethiopian flatbread made of teff flour, is high in fiber, vitamin C and protein. Traditional Ethiopian cuisine emphasizes root vegetables, beans and lentils, and it’s light on dairy and animal products.
JAPAN. Japan’s Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare and Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries recommend an inverted-pyramid style of food consumption, with whole grains on the top, and sugar and sweets on the bottom, supplemented by regular exercise and hydration. Japan is home to one of the densest populations of people aged 100 years or older in the world, the island of Okinawa. Residents here also have less cancer, heart disease and dementia than Americans. They rely on fresh food, mostly vegetables, to surpass the life span of most of the world.
ICELAND. People in Iceland consume an average of 250 grams of seafood per day, according to the United Nations, compared to 60 grams in the United States. As a result, Icelanders are getting much more heart-health-boosting omega-3 fatty acids. According to the American Heart Association, omega-3 fatty acids can reduce your risk of heart attack, stroke and death from coronary heart disease.
SOUTH KOREA. The bacteria in fermented plant products contribute to healthy gut bacteria and ease inflammatory responses in the body. In South Korea, kimchi, fermented cabbage and radish, are served at every meal.