The World's Healthiest Cuisines Slideshow
September 10, 2015
10 diets around the world that prove calorie-counting isn’t the path to wellness
Photo courtesy of iStock
Photo courtesy of iStock
Most diners at a French restaurant don’t expect a healthy experience, but the daily diet of the French doesn’t always include béarnaise sauce. Eating fresh, high quality food, lots vegetables and a variety of proteins are true mainstays of the French gourmet.
Travel There: In Brittany, France’s dramatic northwestern coast, take an intimate French cooking class with Michelin-starred Chef Gilles Charpy at Domaine de la Bretesche, a boutique Relais & Chateau property.
Taste It: Bouillabaisse Recipe from Prevention
The Japanese not only have some of the lowest obesity rates among developed countries, they can also pride themselves on their longevity, a factor that has made the inhabitants of certain the tropical island famous. Okinawan culture celebrates and reveres the elderly, but islanders also swear by their healthy diet, which is largely vegetarian with small amounts of seafood and even less dairy. They have another secret weapon: the bitter melon.
Travel There: An under-the-radar tropical destination, Okinawa offers amazing diving and snorkeling, and The Busena Terrace is the ultimate resort to unwind at while exploring the Ryuku Islands.
Taste It: Bitter Melon with Scrambled Eggs and Rice Recipe from Nibbledish
Italian cooking isn’t all carbs—it can’t be, since Italy has one of the world’s lowest rates of diabetes at an incidence of 1.3, according to the WHO. Servings of pasta are generally just a small course during a traditional Italian meal, accompanied by lots of vegetables. And then there’s the ubiquitous olive oil, a proven omega-3-rich, heart-healthy ingredient. Incidentally, the country of San Marino, located in Emilia-Romagna region of Italy, also scored highly on our list.
Travel There: Fittingly, a hotel by the name of Stella D’Oro provides a good introduction to the Emilia-Romagna coastal city of Rimini.
Stay Home: Pasta Fagioli con le Cotiche Recipe from Life in Abruzzo
The Chinese province of Macau has the world’s longest life expectancy, according to the CIA World Factbook, so it would seem that its denizens do not partake in the region’s burgeoning Vegas-style, over-the-top casino scene. Greater China and Hong Kong also have significantly low heart disease and diabetes rates, probably due to the cuisine’s emphasis on whole grains, vegetables and soy.
Travel There: The Venetian Macao, the sister casino-resort to the one in Vegas, houses no less than six Chinese restaurants among more than 20 international places to dine.
Taste It: Healthy Chinese-Inspired Recipes from Eating Well
Photo courtesy of iStock
It may come as a surprise that Caribbean cuisine is in fact healthy, but a handful of Caribbean islands scored well on all of the health factors, especially Bermuda, Anguilla and the Cayman Islands. The traditional Caribbean diet is extremely rich in fish and seafood as well as starchy root vegetables like yams and cassava. Hot peppers are a key ingredient in many island dishes, and capsaicin has been linked to lowering blood pressure and increasing metabolism.
Travel There: The Fairmont Southampton is set on one of Bermuda’s famous pink beaches, but since foreigners can’t rent cars there, check with the concierge about busing it to a local restaurant to get a taste of true Bermudian food. http://www.fairmont.com/southampton
Taste It: Bobby Flay’s Sweet Potato Pudding Recipe (A dish Bahamians serve on Guy Fawkes Day in November) from the Food Network
Swedish cuisine is another seafood-heavy diet, especially salmon, one of the healthiest types of fish. The country’s tradition of pickling means that vegetables are available throughout the year and the typical rye bread is full of fiber, but perhaps the reliance on cooking methods like smoking, poaching, drying and fermenting also means that fewer fried foods end up on the table.
Travel There: The Rica Hotel is located in Gamla Stan, Stockholm’s Old Town, which is ground-zero for some of the city’s best dining.
Taste It: Swedish Salmon Gratin Recipe from MyRecipes.com
Although Singapore is marked by the highest levels of heart disease and diabetes on the list, it landed on the list because it claims incredibly low rates of obesity and has #4 highest life expectancy. The cuisine is a hybrid of Malay, Chinese, Indian and Indonesian influences known as Nonya, which uses spices like ginger, turmeric and chilies, known for their anti-inflammatory properties and other health benefits.
Travel There: A classic, The Raffles Hotel has a handful of dining options plus its Long Bar invented the Singapore Sling.
Taste It: Singapore Chili Crab Recipe from Eating Well
With both Switzerland and Liechtenstein frontrunners for healthiest cuisines, we decided to group these similar cuisines together. One wouldn’t think that the Alpine diet’s heavy reliance on cheese, bread and cured meats would lead to such reduced obesity, heart disease and diabetes rates, but the cuisine does tend to skew towards fresh local foods that are seasonal and harvested from smaller farms.
Travel There: Stay at the Victoria-Jungfrau Grand Hotel & Spa in Interlaken and discover how the Swiss stay so fit by hiking some of the 300 miles of mountainous trails nearby.
Taste It: Pumpkin Muesli Recipe from Self
For a country so obsessed with ham and pork, a surprising amount of vegetarian dishes comprise what people eat in Spain, from popular tapas like garlic mushrooms (champiñones al ajillo) to roasted veggie medleys like escalavida. Similar to most Mediterranean diets, the olive oil, whole grains, legumes and fresh produce equal a wholesome cuisine.
Travel There: Catalonia and Andorra are some of the statistically healthiest regions of Spain—start out at stylish Hotel Claris in Barcelona’s city center.
Taste It: Andalusian Gazpacho Recipe from Fine Cooking
Another Mediterranean cuisine, Israel’s is marked by the abundance of fresh vegetables like eggplant, tomatoes and zucchini in the region. It may be that the country’s low heart disease rates and longevity also have to do with the incorporation of the traditional Jewish “seven species”—seven super-healthful ingredients that include grapes, olives and pomegranates—all rich sources of nutrients and anti-oxidants.
Travel There: In the coastal party town of Tel Aviv, Art Hotel provides easy access to the pedestrian mall of Ben Yehuda and the beach.
Taste It: Israeli Couscous Salad with Grilled Summer Vegetables Recipe from Cookstr