American cuisine is delicious, but it often involves eating too much of unhealthy ingredients. The author of “The Jungle Effect: The Healthiest Diets from Around the World — Why They Work and How to Make Them Work for You”, Daphne Miller, M.D. explains that in America, even other national cuisines have become so Americanized that they have lost their original health benefits. However, in their original forms, some national cuisines are actually quite healthy and taste amazing too.
You can enjoy delicious global foods and experience wonderful tastes, but not filling yourself with unnecessary calories. Here are the 5 healthiest national cuisines that are good for your taste buds, but for your health as well.
You have probably heard of, or even tried the Mediterranean diet, but you maybe didn’t know that the base for this diet is actually traditional Greek food, including dark leafy vegetables, lentils, fresh fruit, olive oil and fish rich in essential omega-3s which are known to lower the risk of developing heart disease, diabetes, and cancer.
A study conducted at Harvard University showed that those who eat a Mediterranean diet are at a 25% less risk of dying from heart disease or cancer. Besides the overall health benefits, this food also keeps you full and satisfied longer and provides you with all the nutrients your body needs. But the secret of health is not only in the kinds of food Greeks eat, but in the portions as well. They usually eat small plates of food, as Miller explains, which include small pieces of meat or some fresh seafood (all low in calories) along with a handful of nuts and olives. Then, when you get the main dish you’re less inclined to eat a lot.
The best choice of Greek food, if you’re eating out, is grilled fish with spinach or some other greens. This dish, according to Miller, has anti-inflammatory properties (thanks to olive oil) and helps lower your blood pressure (thanks to garlic).
Vietnamese cuisine is rich with fresh herbs, vegetables and seafood and the cooks usually don’t use oil in the process of preparation, but water or some kind of broth. They also eat less sauce and more salads. By minimizing fats, the calorie intake is also decreased.
The health benefits of Vietnamese food also come from the spices that have been used in traditional medicine (such as mint, red chili, star anise, cilantro, etc.), and which help with digestion and prevent inflammations that could cause diseases.
If you decide to try Vietnamese food, try pho, a deliciously aromatic broth based soup with noodles and spices packed with antioxidants.
The proof that Japanese cuisine is indeed healthy is, if nothing else, the fact that people on the island of Okinawa have a life span of approximately 100 years.
The food prepared in this area is “rich in cancer-fighting fruits and vegetables” as Miller explains, and it is prepared in a very healthy way. The people here also have a method of eating their food – “eat until you’re 80% full”, not more or less than that. No wonder colon and breast cancer are such a rare phenomenon in Japan.
The foods in Japanese cuisine that are extremely healthy for you include green tea (packed with antioxidants), bok choy and other calcium-rich vegetables, seaweed packed with iodine which improves thyroid function, seafood packed with essential omega-3s and shitake mushrooms (rich in iron, potassium, zinc, copper and folate).
When you go to a Japanese restaurant don’t skip Miso soup, usually made of seaweed and tofu.
Thai food is so healthy and full of antioxidants that people say it even cures cancer. Tom Yung Gung, a soup made with shrimp, coriander, ginger, lemongrass and other spices that Thai chefs ordinarily use, is one of the staples of Thai cuisine and it is a 100 times more powerful than other antioxidants that have been found to inhibit the growth of cancer.
When they realized that digestive and other cancers occur very rarely in Thailand, the researchers at Thailand’s Kasetsart University started studying the qualities of the soup and found that its ingredients have very positive effects on the human body. Ginger helps with digestion, turmeric has anti-inflammatory properties, and lemongrass is already a well known Asian alternative medicine used to cure colds and stomach problems.
Indian cuisine is rich with aromatic spices, including turmeric, ginger, chilies and garam masala. These spices really enhance the flavor of the food, but it is not all about that. It is actually very healthy and it may even prevent the development of some cancers.
A study conducted at the University of California in Los Angeles showed that turmeric (which is the main ingredient in curry) has anti-inflammatory properties, and numerous other health benefits.
Indian foods are also rich in folate and magnesium which help in controlling blood sugar levels.
If you visit an Indian restaurant, a vegetable curry with dal is a dish you must try, but any dish you choose (unless it is fried or made with lots of butter) will be delicious and healthy.