How does your diet stack up against the world’s healthiest?
In line with the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals, new research from the Socio-Demographic Index has revealed the healthiest countries in the world.
We’ve looked at the top of list and found what makes their diet so unique and nourishing. Even the UK made the top 5!
Top of the list, Iceland, has been ranked as the healthiest place in the world to live. Strict environmental regulations set by the government as well as their geographical isolation has helped Iceland produce some of the purest food on the planet, as well as some of the healthiest and happiest people.
Fish is a key part of the Icelandic life – Wild salmon, haddock, herring and cod are all key staples in their diet.
Fish is full of essential fatty acids like Omega 3 which has a variety of benefits as Dr Marilyn Glenville, UK’s leading nutritionist and author of ‘Natural Alternatives to Sugar’, explains:
Essential fats are important for your health generally but they slow down the rate at which the stomach empties, so making carbohydrates even more slow-releasing. They can make you feel fuller for longer and also control hunger.
The country with the most diverse diet in the top 5 is Singapore, with influences from China, Malaysia and India making up its multicultural population.
One thing that all Singaporean food has in common is spice!
There are many healthy properties of spices, which can make you look and feel great. Lily Soutter, nutritionist and weight loss expert at www.lilysoutternutrition.com, explains the benefits of ginger and turmeric:
Ginger can give you that healthy glow, radiant skin and glossy hair. This is because ginger stimulates circulation, allowing more vital nutrients to reach each organ. Ginger is also a great anti-nausea agent, a perfect tonic if you’re not feeing up to snuff. This bright yellow spice is best known for it’s potent anti-inflammatory benefits. It is the Curcumin within turmeric, which has been used to treat inflammatory conditions like arthritis as well as playing a role within cancer prevention and protecting against heart disease.
We’ve always known that Sweden is one of the happiest places on the planet, but now it’s official that it’s also one of the healthiest.
The Swedish eat high quality dairy products and they are well known for producing healthy fermented dairy products. One of the them which is similar to yogurt is filmjölk but uses different beneficial bacteria to yogurt. 70% of our immune system is in our gut so these beneficial bacteria are crucial to our health. They also have good quality complex unrefined carbohydrates in the form of rye and pumpernickel breads which we know are important for health.
The smallest country in the top 5, Andorra, sits in between France and Spain and is one of the happiest in the world.
Their diet is full of fruit and vegetables, but also … red wine. Despite it’s tiny population, only beaten by the Vatican state, Andorra drinks the most wine in the world!
Red wine is full of antioxidants and can reduce the risk the risk of heart disease. Shona Wilkinson, nutritionist at Superfood UK, explains the benefits of red wine:
Red wine is known for having a high content of a powerful antioxidant called resveratrol. Resveratrol helps prevent cardiovascular health conditions such as high cholesterol by protecting blood cells and platelets. It also has a slight blood thinning property which helps prevent blood clots which are associated with heart disease and strokes.
Surprisingly, the UK made the top 5!
More than ever, we are eating seasonal home-grown produce, which may be why we’ve come fifth. Shona says:
Eating foods when in season means that you’ll be eating the way nature intended it. Summer fruits and vegetables tend to contain higher amounts of water, which dilutes their nutrient content. Compare this to winter fruits and veggies and you’ll find they’re richer in nutrients such as vitamin C and contain more valuable fibre.
For the winter months Shona suggests stocking up on beetroot, broccoli, cranberries, tangerines and brussel sprouts.