The Japanese place great emphasis on food’s appearance, using small portions and seasonal and colorful vegetables for plate appeal. The smaller portions promote limited calorie consumption, while bright vegetables provide a good balance of key vitamins and minerals. The Japanese also eat comparatively high quantities of seafood rich in omega-3s, which promote heart health and reduced cholesterol. Some studies show promise in Omega-3s for fighting cancer, depression, and ADHD.
The Chinese prefer to chow down with chopsticks, which encourages slower eating. Eating slowly allows a person to feel full more quickly and reduces the amount of food consumed. Studies have shown a higher rate of obesity and heart disease among those who eat more quickly. The Chinese also typically eat vegetables with every meal, even breakfast. Their diet also includes high levels of legumes, such as beans, peas and lentils. Most legumes are high in protein, fiber, B vitamins, iron, zinc, magnesium, and potassium.
The French are committed to eating with pleasure and pleasing their palates. Studies show the French associate food more with pleasure than with health, which may sound counterintuitive to healthy eating, but has actually worked out well for them. The French have a lower rate of obesity and heart disease than the US. By not denying themselves the foods they love, they enjoy those foods in reasonable and moderate portions as part of an overall balanced diet.
Traditional Ethiopian dishes are rich in root vegetables, beans and lentils. Heavier dairy products are used much more lightly than in typical American fare. Ethiopians also eat a traditional flatbread made from teff flour, which is high in fiber, vitamin C, and protein. Protein helps promote healthy bones, muscles, cartilage, skin, and blood. Fiber lowers cholesterol and blood sugar, and helps maintain healthy weight.
Indian cuisine is rich in a variety of spices that add delicious flavor, appealing color, and some amazing health benefits. Many of the frequently used spices in Indian dishes, such as turmeric, ginger, and red pepper may help to reduce cholesterol levels. Aromatic spices such as onions and garlic can lower lipid levels in the blood, which can reduce the risk of disease.
Mexican culture is all about lunch. Their traditional culture emphasizes almuerzo, a mid-day meal that is the largest of the day. Recent studies have suggested that the body is less receptive to insulin later in the day when Americans traditionally eat a large meal. As a result, late eating can result in weight gain even when the same amount of calories are consumed.
Italians frequently enjoy a glass of wine with dinner, and when used in moderation, wine consumption has been shown to have health benefits. Wine may increase longevity and lower the risk of heart disease. Red wine is also associated with anti-aging, lower risk of depression, and lowered risk of breast cancer. Remember to stick with drinking that glass of wine with a meal however, because drinking other than at mealtime may raise the risk of cardiovascular disease.
The Greeks practice portion control because the Mediterranean diet tends to include dishes made with olive oil, cheese and meat, all foods that should be consumed in moderation. A lot of Mediterranean cuisine is full of fruits, veggies, grains, and legumes, with small amounts of meat, dairy, and olive oil. Rounding out their healthy diet are dishes made with fish which is high in cancer-fighting omega-3 fatty acids.
Scandinavian cuisine is awash with healthy elements, such as omega-3-rich fish, rye bread, and whole wheat bread. While Americans are very familiar with the benefits of whole wheat bread, many may be surprised to learn that whole grain rye flour is just as nutritionally dense as whole wheat flour. Rye is also dense in fiber and, as a result, keeps people feeling fuller for longer than even bread made with whole wheat flour.
While the standard American diet is often bashed for too much processed food, many Americans are choosing healthier options. Many cities are promoting locally grown foods as healthier, fresher, and nutritionally richer options. Locally grown fruits and vegetables tend to contain fewer pesticides and are not treated with chemicals to prolong shelf life. Go local to promote optimal health.
Turkish diets include rice and wheat cereals as a staple of their diet. Crushed wheat, known as burghul, is a staple of the traditional Turkish meat pies. Burghul is cooked like rice with spices, water and milk. Lamb is a preferred meat, and consumption of high-fat meats like pork is strictly limited. Curd is frequently used along with meat because it’s rich in calcium and contains healthy bacteria which promotes digestive health.
Ecuador is hard to beat for the quantity and quality of fresh fruits available. The even have multiple varieties of bananas, each with their own unique flavor. There are many open air markets with fresh mangos, pineapples, avocados, grapes, and papayas, all grown organically. Vegetable options are also plentiful, with choices like broccoli, carrots, onions, tomatoes, cabbage, and cauliflower grown year round. Most Ecuadoran cuisine includes an abundance of fresh, locally grown produce, and vegetarian dishes are quite popular.