[By Norma Winter]
Mum may not always know best, at least when it comes to latest findings on food. We scour the world for the healthiest populations and get the lowdown on what makes their cuisine so optimal for their well-being.
Peru has a large Japanese community (because of a wave of immigration in the late 1800s), and this influence—think raw seafood, ginger and peppers, and an emphasis on clean, pure flavor—can still be felt in the country’s brand of Latin cuisine.
Menu: Look for tangy, high-protein ceviches (seafood marinated in citrus and spice) and tiraditos (seafood marinated in citrus, hot peppers and ginger).
One all time favorite Peruvian ingredient is ají amarillo paste, which is made from a mild and fruity yellow chile. Add in a teaspoonful or two to give a kick to vegetable dishes such as cauliflower puree.
The Mediterranean diet opened our eyes to the potential health benefits of traditional regional cuisines. Now, thanks to the restaurant Noma in Copenhagen (ranked number one in the world by Restaurant magazine for the past three years) and other trendy Scandinavian eateries, Nordic cooking has been getting a closer look from nutrition experts.
Menu: This cuisine is delicious and good for you: It emphasizes omega-3-rich salmon, antioxidant-packed berries like lingonberries and blueberries, nutrient-dense vegetables such as beets and onions, and disease-fighting herbs like dill, parsley, cinnamon and cardamom. In addition, the hearty Scandinavian way of eating relies heavily on grains like oatmeal, rye and barley, which have all been connected to lower heart disease risk.
We found that traditional Japanese cuisine — especially the version eaten on the island of Okinawa, where people often live to 100-plus — was superhealthy.
Not only are Okinawans blessed with a diet rich in cancer-fighting fruits and vegetables, but they also prepare them in the healthiest way possible, with a light steam or a quick stir-fry. They also practice Hara Hachi Bu, which means “eat until you are eight parts (or 80 percent) full”; these simple diet rules may be why people in Japan are far less likely than Americans to get breast or colon cancer.
Menu: Japanese staples that are amazing for your health include antioxidant-rich yams and green tea; cruciferous, calcium-rich veggies like bok choy; iodine-rich seaweed (good for your thyroid); omega-3-rich seafood; shiitake mushrooms (a source of iron, potassium, zinc, copper, and folate); and whole-soy foods. The soy that’s good for you is unprocessed, not made into fake meat. Think: tofu, edamame, miso, and tempeh, a nutty tasting soybean cake made from fermented soybeans. Healthy choices the next time you visit a Japanese restaurant? Miso soup, which typically contains seaweed and tofu, or a simple veggie-and-tofu stir-fry.