The importance of proper nutrition is spreading all over the world and a good diet, in addition to being made up of healthy foods, must also be varied.
Eating healthy, together with attention to prevention and constant movement, is one of the pillars of a healthy life. However, it is not always easy to identify which foods are good for us, the most suitable cooking methods, or the balance between carbohydrates, proteins, fats, and vitamins that makes our diet healthy.
The Best Diets for Our Health
The Mediterranean Diet:
For heart health and longevity, the Mediterranean diet is certainly the best known in the world. This food model, of reference in Italy, favors the consumption of natural and fresh foods, free of additives and chemical preservatives. In particular, it involves the consumption of complex carbohydrates (pasta and bread), fruit, vegetables, for the supply of fiber, and limits the intake of simple sugars (glucose, lactose and sucrose) for better metabolism control. The latest studies have shown that those who follow this diet also have protective effects on the brain.
Adhering to a healthy model such as the Mediterranean diet can lead to a significant improvement in health and this is demonstrated by a study conducted up to 2008 on about 1,500,000 people which showed a 13% reduction in both Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s, 6% of cancer mortality, 9% of cardiovascular disease and 9% of mortality. The Mediterranean Diet is also a predominantly raw food diet, almost all dishes are cooked at low temperatures for a long time, and many condiments such as olive oil are added to raw dishes.
The main foods of the Mediterranean diet:
- Vegetables and fresh fruit
- Bread and pasta, in modest quantities
- The bread is whole meal and the pasta not only of durum wheat but also of various cereals
- vegetabels occupy an important space
- Little meat, predominantly white
- For fish, blue fish is preferred.
- Extra virgin olive oil is used for the dressing, preferably raw
- Wine accompanies meals in moderate quantities
But let’s remember that the real pillar of the Mediterranean diet is represented by daily physical exercise. The best solution for burning fat is an aerobic activity, which can be performed by various means and methods. Walking, cycling or mountain biking, jogging in parks, aerobic machines, aerobics and step classes, and swimming can be performed. All these activities should be performed regularly 3 or 4 times a week for about 1 hour.
THE NORDIC DIET
A second model of healthy eating linked to a well-defined area is that of the so-called Nordic diet. In this case, we refer to a diet based on foods produced in Northern European countries, capable of improving the body’s lipid profile and insulin sensitivity, lowering blood pressure, and reducing body weight.
Among the most used foods, we find cereals, fruit, vegetables, eggs, oil, and fish of various types, while meat, cheese, sweets, and alcohol are rarely served. Compared to the Mediterranean diet, rapeseed oil is used in the Nordic diet instead of olive oil, for geographical and climatic reasons.
Why is it good?
As in the case of the Mediterranean diet, the Nordic diet is considered particularly healthy because, on the whole, it tends to make foods of plant origin prevail over those of animal origin. A recent study published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition showed that this diet has an impact on abdominal fat genes : in fact, it turns off genes related to belly inflammation.
Furthermore, following the Nordic diet has been shown to help you lose weight and reduce the risk of contracting type 2 diabetes. Finally, the researchers point out that this diet also has a positive impact on the environment, as it tends to prefer non-food imported and encourages a reduction in meat production.
The Okinawa Diet
What is that? Although low in calories, this nutrient-dense diet favors fruits and vegetables over meats, refined grains, sugar, salt, and whole milk products. It appeared in a very specific historical context since its followers lived on the island of Okinawa, one of the poorest regions of Japan before the Second World War. The Confucian precepts – that you stop eating before you are completely satiated and that you share as much as possible with your neighbor – have played a big role in the eating habits of the island.
The main foods of the Okinawa diet:
Sweet potatoes, rice (less than mainland Japanese), leafy greens, green or yellow vegetables (e.g. bitter melon), soy foods (tofu, soy sauce). Okinawans ate only small amounts of seafood, lean meat, fruit, and tea.
Maintain Your Health and Shape for A Long Time
As you have understood, the secret revealed by this ranking to combine shape and health comes down to a balanced diet! The idea is to reduce consumption of refined sugars, saturated fatty acids (butter, cream, fatty meats and cold cuts) in favor of foods rich in nutrients (mainly plants) and unsaturated fatty acids (fatty fish, oilseeds and virgin oils). Eating healthy also means avoiding processed products, additives and pesticides (by turning in particular to organic products). A healthy diet is a raw, varied, and mainly vegetable diet if we are to believe this classification.
Healthy Diets: What Characteristics Do They Have In Common?
According to the researchers, a healthy diet, therefore, has concrete benefits on our body: it reduces the risk of cardiovascular diseases, acts as a good prevention practice for even serious diseases such as tumors, contributes to slow and healthy aging. What are, however, the elements that unite these diets?
- A high consumption of unrefined grains ;
- Moderate consumption of proteins , with preference for those of vegetable origin;
- The use of fish and lean meat as an alternative protein source;
- A healthy lipid profile : in fact, the typical foods of these diets tend to be rich in mono and polyunsaturated fats, as well as omega-3 to the detriment of saturated fats, which are very marginal;
- A low calorie density determined by the prevalence of foods of plant origin.
These combined elements ensure that following a healthy diet contributes to providing our body with everything it needs, reducing the risk of chronic diseases linked to aging, and promoting, on the other hand, a healthy lifestyle.
Among the good practices to be implemented for long and healthy life, there is also that of carrying out periodic checks. In particular, those who already suffer from heart problems or have found familiarity should not underestimate the 360 ° prevention that starts from the diet and also includes regular visits with a specialist.
Countries With The Healthiest Eating Habits
Chad, Sierra Leone, and Mali: these are the countries where the best diet for health is followed, according to scientific research by the Medical Research Council. Surprised? The study shows that in high-income countries, such as those part of the European Union, junk foods are often consumed, present in greater quantities than healthy foods. It is therefore not surprising that Belgium takes third place in the ranking of the least healthy diets on the planet, preceded by Hungary and Armenia.