It’s no secret that America has some health problems. Between the heart disease and the cancer rates, America has a long way to go before it can consider itself “healthy.” This health crisis surely has some relation to our eating habits, which typically range from bad to awful, depending on the day. Seriously, Americans are eating pizza for breakfast and hosting eating competitions where participants down dozens of hot dogs — hot dogs with a grotesque laundry list of artificial ingredients.
If you ask a citizen of any other country what they think about American eating habits, they’ll probably laugh out loud. But if you ask any American about foods abroad, they’ll rant and rave.
We would, too. While America lacks a “traditional” cuisine, civilizations worldwide are brimming with centuries-old recipes and time-honored dishes that are far from lacking in flavor or intrigue. We aren’t sure about you, but we’ve never been exhausted by the endless options for flavors of curry or varieties of phở.
For these healthy dishes and more, check out our list of some of the healthiest dishes offered around the world.
Beans are a vegetarian’s life saver because of how much protein they can provide. They’ve been known to cause bloating and, yes, flatulence, but honestly beans and rice made the Cuban way are so delicious we don’t even mind.
There’s a reason they’re so popular: The health factor of this traditional dish cannot be beat.
Beans for breakfast?! Egypt knows what’s up. Egyptians traditionally gorge themselves on Ful Mudammas, a dish made with fiber-rich fava beans and healthy fat superfood tahini.
Savory breakfasts get a pass more often than not in America, but we could all take a tip from North Africa and give it a try. The dish has virtually no cholesterol, while still adding lots of fiber, iron, manganese, magnesium, and phosphorus. Pair the beans with a whole grain pita or hard boiled eggs for an extra nutritional boost!
In addition to protein, the bread is chock full of nutrients, including calcium, manganese, phosphorous, iron, copper, aluminum, barium, thiamin, and vitamin C. Yeah, that’s a long list.
Even if you never make it to Ethiopia, try visiting an Ethiopian café or two. It’ll outdo your croissant every time.
These salads have made it as a trend across the Atlantic and around the world. We’re glad they have: It’s a role model for healthy salads, winning over America’s failure to create a healthy salad every time. Traditionally, the dish is made with tomatoes, hard-boiled eggs, Niçoise olives, anchovies, and olive oil. However, the anchovies have often been given a pass in favor of the more popular tuna.
No matter what fish you use, the salad is a nutritional mother lode. Low-fat varieties of seafood are paired with the healthiest fat sources around: olive oil and eggs. Sounds good to us!
The coziest dish and the simplest to make, Indian curry is one of those foods we’re grateful is good for us. The brown rice is a hearty whole grain and the curry sauce itself usually douses a healthy source of protein like chicken or chickpeas.
The sauce itself has a long list of benefits as well, since it’s made with metabolism-boosting spices and comforting coconut milk. Some varieties even use extra yogurt for an added protein boost.
A staple of Middle Eastern food, tabbouleh is the perfect side dish for any number of dinner mains. The fresh herbs involved keep it flavorful and enticing, while the bulgur and tomatoes add healthy grains and important vitamins.
They come in bowls, in salads, and sold raw on Japanese city streets. Traditional soba noodles have been a staple in Japan for centuries — maybe that’s how the Japanese stay so healthy? Undoubtedly, the Japanese eat their fair share of white rice. But soba noodles are a fantastic nutritional bolster to the simple grain. They provide thiamine and eight essential amino acids missing from rice.
The Japanese eat soba noodles most often in a warm broth, which is low-calorie and good for the gut. In the soup, they add lots of fiber-rich vegetables and flavorful herbs.
Yes, tacos can be healthy! They can actually be quite good for you — just so long as you lay off the sour cream. Tacos are a delicious combination of carbohydrates from the tortilla, protein from whatever meat you choose to fill it with, and vegetables for added flavor and crunch.
Fish tacos and grilled chicken tacos are among the healthiest, but there’s nothing wrong with indulging in some red meat every now and then!
Speaking of red meat — lamb is one of our favorites. It’s got lots of the rare nutrient selenium, alongside its plethora of protein, vitamin B12, zinc, and niacin. The gamey meat is cooked in a stew called tagine, which usually involves chickpeas (another nutritional winner), apricots, almonds, and vegetables. There’s not a single thing in it that’s bad for you, and the flavor is like no other. The unique combinations of spices keep your palette enticed for the whole meal.
This is the Russian term for buckwheat groats. Sounds more appealing in Russian, doesn’t it?
Regardless of the title, the dish is crazy good for you. It’s like oatmeal, but better — it’s got antioxidants to wage war on free radicals, knocks down your inflating blood pressure, and even has its own reservoir of powerful protein to keep you full and nourished for longer.
How do you eat this foreign food? Simply boil it and add whatever flavorful ingredients you want. Many add butter or another fat to add nutritional value, while others prefer spices and seeds. You are an artist and the kasha is your canvas; add whatever foods you please!
You can’t really go wrong with paella. Not only are the Spanish winning at portion control with their tapas-style meals, but they also know how to pack as much nutrition as they can into one flavorful pot of rice. The grain’s carbohydrates are balanced out by olive oil and seafood, two staples of the legendary, life-preserving “Mediterranean diet.” Like other Mediterranean dishes, it carries a host of benefits, remaining low in saturated fats and high in fiber and omega-3s.
Sweden houses more healthy people than many other countries in the world (and, ironically, is one of the countries with the best health care). We could learn a thing or two from their diet, starting with their buffet-style platters of crackers, cheese, fish, and vegetables. The Swedes typically eat rye or another bitter form of bread and eat many of their vegetables raw. They spread the slices with small amounts of cheese, moderate amounts of herbs, and large amounts of healthy white fish. The result is intensely flavorful and highly nutritious.
While this dish is popular worldwide, it actually originated in Tunisia. The dish is typically served for breakfast, but (like most breakfast food) can really be enjoyed at any time of day. It’s made of eggs poached inside a spice-infused, sizzling tomato sauce, and often involves an addition of sautéed vegetables. Eggs pack on good cholesterol, protein, and dozens of other essential nutrients, while the tomatoes give you the fiber and riboflavin your body craves.
The best part? You can eat it right from the skillet!
Grilling is one of the healthiest ways to cook meat. The slabs of meat mixed with large slices of veggies are an enticing and easy-to-make main course.
Turkish kebabs come in many varieties, including “steam kebabs” and the famous “shish kebabs”. They’ve become quite popular in the US as well, but often nutritionally wrecked by sugary sauces and marinades. Take a tip from the Turks and keep it simple. Add spices such as thyme and cumin before you char your chicken and ditch the honey-barbecue sauce for good. Once you taste their authentic cuisine, you’ll never go back.
They’re crunchy, crafty, and crazy colorful. Vietnamese spring rolls often contain poached shrimp, rice noodles, and raw vegetables, making them low-calorie and nutritious. The noodles provide carbohydrates while the shrimp is a healthy way to get your protein. To flavor the rolls, fresh herbs are typically added, alongside some hot peppers if you’re daring.
Pair them with peanut sauce to get your healthy fats and dig in to as many as you want. The more shrimp in your diet, the better!