All over the world, African countries still have the healthiest diets ever. This is because as a developing continent, most parts have not become so advanced in technology to the point that it affects the ‘naturality’ and quality of food. Most Africans still grow their foods naturally and eat them fresh (for the most part). As subsistence farmers, they grow what they eat. They get their foods, fruits and vegetables straight and fresh from their farms/gardens. I guess going green is not just an environmental term, it also has to do with the food we eat.
Industrialization in the food sector has made things convenient at some level. Nevertheless, it seems to be devaluing the worth of our food in recent times. Lifestyle is also a determinant factor to what we consume. Ever since the industrial revolution, health conditions like obesity, chronic heart diseases, stroke, hypertension and diabetes have almost become an epidemic. As it is said, “you are what you eat”. So it is no fairy tale when we incite that a healthy meal is equal to a healthy person.
Around the world, there are countries who can still boast of rich and nutritious healthy meals. It is worth it to mention that the West African countries most especially take the cake when it comes to countries with the healthiest diets in the world.
So, what makes a diet healthy? Preservation and conservation of the nutritional values of the diet. If the components of the food have absolutely nothing to offer nutritionally, then the meal is far from being healthy. It is mere garbage in disguise. That’s why terms like ‘junk’ foods exist. HEALTHY DIETS are the answer to an overall improved health. They are foods that are not drenched in chemicals and preservatives. Foods that keep the body in excellent conditions and fight diseases.
According to Dr Fumiaki Imamura, of the University of Cambridge, healthy diets play a “crucial role” in reducing the non-communicable diseases which by 2020 will account for 75% of all deaths. Countries that have healthy diets automatically have high life expectancy rates.
According to a recent ranking, these are the regions of the world with the healthiest diets.
1. The Mediterranean
These are the sea people. The Mediterranean diets are one of the world’s known healthiest diets. Their cuisine is replete with seafoods, natural herbs and vegetables – Nature typified and served on a plate. Olive oil is their main source of fat. They also love nuts, cereals and dairy foods. With it, they naturally preserve their vegetables. Studies have shown that conditions like dementia, cardiac diseases and obesity can be managed by adopting the Mediterranean healthy diets. Some of the Mediterranean countries include Isreal, Tunisia, Croatia, Malta, Morocco, Egypt, Algeria, amongst others.
As a nation that also borders on the Mediterranean sea, France has one of the healthiest diets in the world. French people LOVE cheese, bread and meat. Surprisingly, they do not have the high rate of heart health cases as expected from countries that ingest saturated fats like they do. It was discovered that the secret lies in the amount of cheese/fats they consume at a time. This proves dietitians right when they say that the idea of a healthy and balanced diet is to eat everything in moderation. The fatty food sources are richly augmented with fruits, beans, vegetables and pulses.
The Nordic region consists of countries in Northern Europe and North Atlantic – Sweden, Denmark, Norway, Finland and Iceland. They have one of the world’s healthiest diets too. In a recent research by the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, it was found that Nordic diets reduce inflammation as it relates to “chronic conditions and an increased risk of colon cancer”. Their meals largely consist of rye bread, berries, apples, cabbage, root vegetables, oily fish, fermented milk and cheese. They share the same health benefits with the Mediterranean region- High in fibre and low in calories.
Ever wondered what the secret to the high life expectancy rate of the Japanese is? It’s simple, healthy diets. In 2005, there was a national sensitization in Japan that encouraged the intake of less saturated fats, high carbs and processed foods. The Asian country takes lots of water and teas. Japanese meals largely consist of carbohydrates, vegetables, fruits, fish and meat. Their longevity is basically attached to their diets.
5. West Africa
West Africa has a variety of healthy foods that are ingenious to individual nations. However, they share some healthy staple foods such as rice (wholegrain foods), yams, fish, nuts, beans, pulses, fruits and vegetables. As much as the quantity of food consumed per meal is debatable, the saving grace of the people in this region is the activity level and the consumption of less processed food products.
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A University of Cambridge research confirms that “the consumption of healthy foods including fruit, vegetables, whole grains, fish and food high in fibre and omega 3 found in diets in West Africa ranked the highest”.
Some of the countries with the healthiest diets in the world include:
2. Sierra Leone
4. The Gambia
7. Ivory Coast