In his latest book, The Five Factor World Diet
, fitness and nutrition author Harley Pasternak writes about countries with healthy traditional diets. He selected the countries based on which ones have the longest life expectancies and lowest obesity rates. His rankings aren't scientifically rigorous, but they may shed light on how other countries eat well and manage to stay healthy.
Here are 3 countries that made the list:
Obesity rate: 1.5%
Life expectancy: 82 years
Pasternak praises Japanese cuisine for its focus on cruciferous vegetables like cabbage, broccoli, bok choy and kale. The main sources of protein in the Japanese diet--fish and soy--are also heart healthy. Finally, the Japanese eat plenty of complex carbohydrates in the form of nutrient-rich buckwheat noodles. Some Japanese practice calorie restriction, eating only until they feel 80% full.
Obesity rate: 6.6%
Life expectancy: 81 years
Most people know about the so-called French paradox: The French regularly indulge in high-fat foods like cheese and chocolate without packing on the pounds. Pasternak attributes this to small portion sizes and the fact that they seldom snack. Vegetables also play a starring role in meals even when the main course is a meat dish. While the French also aren't afraid to use butter, they tend to prepare meals by baking, roasting and braising--all low-fat ways of cooking.
Obesity rate: 10%
Life expectancy: 79 years
Pasternak believes the country's diet has something to do with its relatively good health. Pasternak says South Koreans enjoy a low-fat diet that features tofu, noodles, fish and nutritionally rich fermented vegetables known as kimchi. Though barbecued beef is a favorite dish, South Koreans eat it sparingly, consuming just 16 pounds of beef per year compared to the American average of 67 pounds.
For more of the world's healthiest diets check out Forbes
or The Five Factor World Diet