Nutrition Secrets from Around the World
6 habits that can ramp up your health
When it comes to healthy eating, people can stand to learn a thing or two from other cultures. The following countries have lower rates of obesity or longer life expectancies. Here, some of their nutrition habits that are worth trying.
Iceland: Spread on grass-fed butter.
The average citizen of this Arctic country consumes 13 pounds of yellow butter, made from hormone-free milk, each year. They spread it on cod jerky for a snack, or on thin slices of steamed brown bread topped with fish, herbs, and pickled vegetables for an open-faced sandwich. Recent research reveals that full-fat dairy products may actually protect against heart disease and stroke, and a Swedish study found that it’s associated with a lower rate of obesity.
Korea: Cook with fermented foods.
Korean cuisine uses kimchi and jang, a type of fermented soybean paste. These foods are high in gut-friendly probiotics, which may help boost the immune system.
Italy: Sit down with your meals.
A study of 34 countries found that Americans spend the least amount of time at meals, but have the highest rate of obesity. Ohane Cohane, a New-Yorker-turned-Italian-hotelier, says that living la doce vita has transformed her eating habits. “When I lived in New York, I might have scarfed a sandwich on the subway. But Italians are more mindful,” she says. “I consume less than I did in the city because I sit down at a table three times a day, and I really chew and enjoy every bite.”
Jamaica: Eat from the earth.
A principle of Rastafarianism, a social and religious movement, is livity, the idea that plants, animals, and humans are all connected. That’s why Rastas eat minimally processed, often vegan foods as part of their Ital wellness philosophy. They believe in growing their own food in a holistic way.
Greece: Sip red wine and drizzle on local honey.
Both contain disease-fighting antioxidants. Greece is one of the world’s Blue Zones, areas where their citizens are more likely to live to 100. They follow a Mediterranean diet of olive oil, fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and fish.
Japan: Have fish for breakfast.
Their traditional breakfast consists of grilled or broiled fish served with miso soup, steamed rice (or rice porridge), and dishes like nori (dried seaweed) or natto (fermented soy beans). The result is a low-calorie meal high in healthy omega-3 fats, antioxidants, and fiber, says Sharon Palmer, RD, a dietitian and author of The Powerful Plants Diet. Try salting and broiling a salmon fillet and serving it with rice for your morning meal.