What Country Has the Healthiest Diet?

Diane Goettel
Diane Goettel

Although in years past there has been speculation that Japan has the healthiest diet in the world, there has been recent buzz in the medical community that the healthiest diet in the world may come from the Mediterranean region. According to the latest thinking about the healthiest cuisine, there are actually a number of countries that, when grouped together, represent the healthiest diet. Although there are a number of countries that border the Mediterranean including countries that are a part of Europe, Asia, and Africa, the countries that are most commonly associated with Mediterranean cuisine are Italy, Spain, Greece, Turkey, and sometimes Israel.

Mediterranean diets, like those in Greece and Italy, use olive oil in their cooking.
Mediterranean diets, like those in Greece and Italy, use olive oil in their cooking.

The hallmarks of this kind of Mediterranean cuisine are the key protein sources in the diet, the kinds of fats that are consumed, and the consumption of healthy portions of vegetables. There are also some in the culinary and medical communities who argue that part of what makes the Mediterranean cuisine the healthiest diet is the practice of frequently drinking a glass of wine with afternoon or evening meals. The important sources of proteins in the Mediterranean diet are often low in cholesterol, such as beans and fish. In terms of protein, beans and legumes are consumed in greater quantities than fish and seafood. Meat is the least common source of protein.

The Mediterranean diet incorporates sources of protein that are low in cholesterol.
The Mediterranean diet incorporates sources of protein that are low in cholesterol.

One of the key sources of fat in the Mediterranean diet is olive oil, which is a cholesterol-free source of fat. It is considered to be a very heart healthy ingredient and is incorporated into many dishes in the Mediterranean diet, even those that are made entirely with vegetables and herbs. In addition to including large portions of vegetables, the Mediterranean diet is also high in whole grains and fruits, which are known to be very healthy diet staples.

The Mediterranean diet emphasizes plenty of fresh vegetables and olive oil.
The Mediterranean diet emphasizes plenty of fresh vegetables and olive oil.

While the Mediterranean diet may be considered to be the healthiest diet by many members of the medical community and culinary community, this is not to say that there aren't many other very healthy diets around the world. Japan, for example, has been discussed in years past as having one of the healthiest diets in the world. This is because Japanese cuisine includes many sources of lean protein accompanied by lots of vegetables and whole grains. Also, one of the keys to Japanese cuisine is small portions, which can help to keep people from adding on extra pounds, which can lead to a number of health issues.

A healthy diet must include high-quality sources of protein, such as dairy products or lean meats.
A healthy diet must include high-quality sources of protein, such as dairy products or lean meats.
Vitamin supplements are not meant to be an alternative to eating a variety of healthy foods.
Vitamin supplements are not meant to be an alternative to eating a variety of healthy foods.
One of the key sources of fat in the Mediterranean diet is olive oil, which is a cholesterol-free source of fat.
One of the key sources of fat in the Mediterranean diet is olive oil, which is a cholesterol-free source of fat.
Some believe that frequently drinking wine in the afternoon helps make the Mediterranean cuisine the healthiest diet.
Some believe that frequently drinking wine in the afternoon helps make the Mediterranean cuisine the healthiest diet.
Diane Goettel
Diane Goettel

In addition to her work as a freelance writer for wiseGEEK, Diane is the executive editor of Black Lawrence Press, an independent publishing company based in upstate New York. She has also edited several anthologies, the e-newsletter Sapling, and The Adirondack Review. Diane has a B.A. from Sarah Lawrence College and an M.A. from Brooklyn College.

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Discussion Comments

Mor

@Iluviaporos - I think the Japanese diet is good, but the Mediterranean diet is also good.

The thing is, there is enough research into nutrition now that it's pretty easy to start figuring out a diet that has the benefits of all the different countries.

You could eat lots of fish like the Japanese, with olive oil and beans from the Mediterranean diet, and red wine from France.

That actually sounds like the beginning of an awesome diet to me.

I also think that the emphasis should be on a wide range of fruits and vegetables, rather than just trying to stick to certain kinds.

If you managed to stick to doing that, I think you'd probably live for a long time.

lluviaporos

Apparently the two things that make the most difference to the Japanese diet are fish and green tea.

Eating fish several times a week is just really good for you, as it is low in fat and contains a lot of healthy nutrients.

While green tea has all kinds of benefits, including antioxidants that might prevent cancer.

That's one of the reasons some of the world's oldest people have come from Japan.

The thing is, it is also a delicious diet, so it's not exactly hard to follow!

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