The world is a large place full of multiple cultures and foods, and people say one of the cheapest and easiest ways to travel is by trying different cuisines. It can, however, be overwhelming figuring out which cuisine helps us stay in line with our healthy eating while also offering variety. While we already made a list of the top 10 healthiest countries in the world, this list compiles the top 10 healthiest world cuisines and foods you can find globally, showcasing the healthy variety of new and tasty foods to introduce into your diet:
- Japanese – Japanese culture tends to eat well in small portions with colorful vegetables. The cuisine involves a lot of green vegetables such as cabbage, negi (green onion), and nasu (eggplant). As a culture, the Japanese strive on eating very healthy and using seasonal ingredients and flavors. When preparing their meals, the Japanese carefully select which ingredients are in season; during Springtime, for example, they will include a variety of bitter vegetables and or/seasonings. When eating, they tend to have a variety of light condiments with their meals such as wasabi, soy sauce, miso soup, and tsukemono (pickles). Most Japanese drink green tea with their meals, which is loaded with antioxidants.
- South Mediterranean (Italian and Greek) – Most of the dishes are rich in olive oil, which has been shown to be great for heart health. The Mediterranean diet is a great way to decrease any inflammation in the body caused by diseases while also being a good way to lose weight since it’s loaded with good saturated fats, vegetables, which bolster health and metabolism. An example of a simple and healthy Mediterranean dish would be a Greek salad or lemon basil shrimp (whole wheat) pasta.
- Indian – Indian food is high in both grains and fiber. Their cuisine incorporated the healthy fat found in legumes in addition to many health boosting spices and herbs that lower blood pressure and provide anti-inflammatory benefits. One popular and healthy dish is Lobhia, and consists of black-eyed beans covered in a tomato sauce with tons of herbs and spices. Another popular dish is chicken masala which is chicken, chili, yogurt which provides a good probiotic, ginger, onion, and garlic. To make your Indian food even healthier, just stay away from eating too much white rice, and opt instead for a healthier whole grain.
- Korean – Korean cuisine includes a variety of great healthy vegetables. One of their main dishes Kimchi contains cabbage, radish, and ginger; it is also fermented and loaded with probiotics for better gut health. Korean basic seasonings are the healthy combination of red pepper, green onion, bean paste, garlic, ginger, sesame, and vinegar. Similar to the Japanese food culture, Korean cuisine has a variety of light and healthy side dishes during each meal, such as miso soup, kimchi, steamed vegetables covered in chili paste. Most Koreans eat a vegetable with every meal.
- Ethiopian – Ethiopian cuisine is made up of grains, spicy peppers, lentils, cabbage, kale, tomato, lamb, and eggs. As a whole, Ethiopians do not consume pork. One popularly healthy Ethiopian food is called injera, which is a bread very high in both fiber/protein. Another dish is lentil edamame soup, high in fiber content which is great for dietary purposes such as irregular bowel incontinence.
- Nordic Scandinavian – The Scandinavian diet is rated as one of the healthiest diets in the world. In Sweden, the rate of obesity falls below 10% and neighboring Scandinavian countries fall within the same percentage range. The Scandinavian diet is quite simple and often people cook it from home and from scratch. Danish cuisine is highly nutritional in foods that are enriched in vitamins, minerals, proteins, poultry, and fish. They include fish like Herring and Salmon into their meals which are high in Omega-3s. The Scandinavian diet also includes a lot of cabbage, root vegetables such as carrot or beet. They tend to include whole-grain rye bread into their diets, and eat a plethora of Brussels sprouts which are high in vitamin C and K. Berries such as lingonberries and cloudberries are popular and often eaten as dessert. Most of their dishes include spices/herbs like chives, thyme, cardamom, and parsley.
- Vietnamese – Most Vietnamese cuisine is low in fat, containing a variety of vitamin-enriched vegetables in dishes such as Pho, jam-packed with flavorful vegetables and a light broth with your choice of either pork, beef, or chicken. After lunch or dinner, rather than a heavy pastry, fruit is usually presented as desert. There are many exotic and super healthy varieties, such as “fruit of paradise” known as the fruit with the highest concentration in vitamin A. Studies have also found that it may contain more lycopene than tomatoes.
- Thai – Thai cuisine is typically low in saturated fat. Many dishes are high in fiber and protein, consisting of tofu, eggs, leafy green vegetables, and carrots. Also it is cooked with lean meats. Authentic Thai food is usually a far cry from what is depicted in Western restaurants and is usually made with fresh vegetables and produce. Thai cuisine is a mixture of healthy spices, sweetness, and tanginess which brings out all of the flavors. Thai cuisine is usually cooked with coconut oil/coconut milk and is usually very spicy, increasing metabolism.
- Spanish – Spanish cuisine includes a lot of dried fruits and nuts, which are high in fiber content. Like the French, wine is a big part of their diet. Known for their small dishes called tapas, they consume a lot of olive oil, sardines, chickpeas, and chicken in their meals. In Spanish culture, it is common to take a siesta (nap) daily, improving sleep hours, and therefore also improving overall health.
- West African – Countries like Nigeria, Liberia, Mali, and Guinea are entering the conversation of the healthiest cuisines. They introduce lean meats, vegetables such as okra, swiss chard, bell peppers, legumes, and cabbage into many of their dishes. Yam is high in potassium, vitamin c, and manganese. Plantains are high in fiber and vitamin A. One popular West African dish is vegetable stew, which contains nuts and spices like raisins, chickpeas, sweet potatoes, and cinnamon.
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