For those of us who have lived our entire lives in the same country, our own Western diet is all we’ve ever known. We’ve eaten the same foods, struggled with the same health issues, and only in the last few years have we begun to experience an influx of cuisines and food cultures from around the world.
And boy have we been missing out!
You’d be amazed by how healthy some people around the world are thanks to their diet. For example, did you know that Japan has the longest lifespan of any country in the world? Not only that, but one region of the country—the island of Okinawa—has a higher life expectancy than the rest of the country . Can you guess what causes this? You got it: their diet!
Countries that follow diets different from the modern Western diet tend to be healthier overall, have fewer long-term and chronic health problems, and still enjoy a broad variety of foods. That’s not to say that each diet is perfect, but there’s something that can be drawn from each in order to improve our diet.
By pulling bits and pieces—also known as “the healthiest foods”—from each country, you can improve your own eating habits drastically. You can still enjoy all your favorite flavors, and even some new ones, all the while upgrading the nutritional quality of what you put in your body. It will take some getting used to, but the outcome is going to be a healthier, happier you. It’s healthy eating at its core, along with plenty of international culture.
So sit back, relax, and enjoy this culinary journey of health through some of the healthiest countries around this wonderful world of ours!
Our first featured country is India. Take a trip to India, and you’ll find all sorts of fascinating and delicious ingredients you may have never tried before!
Indian food is rich, spicy, flavorful, and incredibly diverse, with hundreds or even thousands of varieties on their basic dishes. At its core, it also has a lot of healthful ingredients.
Here are a few staple ingredients that make a HUGE difference:
Indian cuisine is known for its many, many spices, all of which contain medicinal properties . Few, however, are as potent as turmeric!
Turmeric, the bright yellow root that adds both its color and flavor to hundreds of Indian dishes, is renowned for its various uses. Indian traditional medicine uses it to heal gastrointestinal problems, speed up wound recovery, combat rheumatic disorders, treat rhinitis, and kill off intestinal parasites.
Studies have proven that turmeric—specifically curcumin, the active antioxidant ingredient in the spice—offers a lot of benefits to your health.
First off, it’s a natural anti-inflammatory agent, which can help to decrease chronic disease, cardiovascular health problems, atherosclerosis, cancer, metabolic syndrome, and more. Curcumin’s anti-inflammatory properties are considered on par with many anti-inflammatory drugs , but with none of the side effects.
It’s also a natural antioxidant, which can neutralize free radicals and can have a chemopreventative effect in the body , inhibiting the enzymes that contribute to inflammation. It may also one day proven to an effective anti-cancer treatment (with further research).
Other benefits may include:
Improved brain function 
Reduced risk of heart disease 
Improved response in rheumatoid arthritis patients 
And the list goes on!
Ginger is another potent and tangy spice added into Indian cuisine. It’s not only incredibly flavorful, but you’ll find that it offers some pretty amazing health benefits.
According to one systematic review of multiple studies , ginger is an amazing spice to use to combat obesity. It has the ability to:
Reduce lipogenesis, also known as the metabolic formation and storage of fat
Increase thermogenesis, raising the internal temperature in your body
Boost your metabolism, specifically increasing lipolysis (fat-burning)
Improve digestion and decrease stomach upset
Prevent intestinal fat absorption
All of these things combine to make ginger a truly potent and effective spice.
But ginger is also a powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory. It’s loaded with zingerone, an antioxidant that works like curcumin in turmeric (see above) to decrease your risk of cardiovascular disease, inflammation, and more.
If you want to be healthier, it’s time to add more ginger into your diet!
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Indian food is famous for being spicy, and a lot of that fame comes from the multiple varieties of red hot chili peppers that are added into the dishes.
Red chili peppers aren’t just good for setting your mouth on fire—they’re also amazing for your health. Here are just a few of the things they can do :
Fight inflammation, thanks to the anti-inflammatory properties of capsaicin
Reduce pain associated with inflammatory conditions, including arthritis and psoriasis
Provide pain relief both topically and internally
Reduce blood cholesterol and triglyceride levels
Decrease the risk of blood clots
Lower heart attack and stroke rates
Clear congestion in the nasal passages
Boost your immunity to disease
Prevent stomach ulcers
Raise your internal temperature and metabolism to help you burn more fat
Lower Type 2 Diabetes risk
It’s worth the burn to improve your health!
Legumes are among the healthiest foods on the planet.
Let me repeat that. They’re not just one the healthiest proteins, despite the fact that they’re loaded in amino acid. They’re one of the healthiest FOODS around!
Legumes are low in fat but right in protein and fiber. They also contain a small dose of carbs, but the high fiber content of legumes means the carbs will be slowly absorbed and slower-acting in your body. They won’t raise your blood sugar levels but will provide you with a steady burn of energy for hours to come.
It would take FOREVER to list all the health benefits of legumes, but all experts agree  that eating more legumes is the key to a healthier diet and a healthier you.
Indian cuisine leans heavily on legumes. Chief among them chickpeas, but lentils, peas, and many varieties of beans are also consumed. In fact, a lot of Indian dishes are vegetarian (no meat) but contain only legumes with veggies, aromatics, and spices galore.
This high legume intake is one of the primary contributors to better overall health among Indians. If you want to be healthy, it’s time to eat more legumes!
Mangos are a delicious tropical fruit that also provide a lot of amazing health benefits . They’re loaded in fiber, Vitamins A and C, folate, Vitamin B6, iron, calcium, Vitamin E, zinc, and antioxidants like mangiferin and gallotannins that provide a wide range of health benefits. They’re also amazing for your digestive health and can play a role in combating obesity. Eat them whenever you can find them in season!
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