The 4 Healthiest Diets Across The World (& Why)
There is no shortage of diet information out there, and no shortage of people seeking guidance about what and how to eat. The importance of what a person eats, how they eat, and what that means for their overall health now and in the future has never been more in focus.
In certain areas of the world, the typical diet is not exactly on par with optimal health. A perfect example of this is a typical Western diet. With lots of processed foods, high added sugar content, and larger-than-life portions, the Western diet is low on the list of healthiest diets across the world.
That being said, people in America can still benefit from the cuisines of other countries by adopting certain food options, or even overhauling their typical diet completely and replacing it with healthier, wholefood options. With all that said: which diet in the world is the best when it comes to your overall health? Read on to learn more.
Who has the healthiest diet in the world?
There is a plethora of conflicting evidence when it comes to eating healthily. Trends change, which means that certain things you’re told to eat (or not eat) change with them.
For example, people used to avoid fat like the plague, but have since realized that the best approach is more about choosing the right type of fat than avoiding it entirely. Fish has also been hailed as a viable health food, but reports of mercury levels and microplastics found in most sea-dwelling creatures have since stripped fish of the top spot. It’s confusing, to say the least, to figure out what you should be eating for overall health and longevity.
According to recent research published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, a number one diet may actually exist (keep reading below to find out what it is!). The report actually found that any type of elimination diet that has you removing nutrients such as fats or carbs is totally off the table for the title of “healthiest diet ever,” simply because all people are different, and the way their bodies use and respond to certain foods varies significantly.
What is the best diet for overall health?
The best diet is one that includes wholefoods and avoids ultra-processed foods. It’s as simple as simple can be when you really think about it – but it’s not always easy in a fast-paced world to eat this way consistently. That being said, prioritizing wholefoods is really the only option if you want to eat a diet that’s best for your health.
Many diets include wholefoods, but do so in different ways simply based on location. Because eating locally sourced foods is the best way to get the most out of the nutrients, areas of the world that practice the healthiest eating all do so with a different selection of wholefoods.
What are the healthiest diets people can try?
Read on for four of the overall healthiest diets across the world!
1. The Mediterranean diet
The above-mentioned report found that the only true “healthiest diet in the world” is one based entirely around wholefoods such as fruits, vegetables, legumes, and lean and low-processed protein sources. The prime example of this diet does have a name: the Mediterranean diet (or the pesco-Mediterranean diet in some places!).
As well as focusing on wholegrains, vegetables, legumes, fruits, nuts, and seeds, this diet implements the use of herbs and spices to punch up the flavor, as opposed to sauces or other flavorings that may be doing more harm than good for your health.
2. The flexitarian diet
The flexitarian diet is a good one to try regardless of your location, because it is more a style of eating than a case of making specific food choices and sticking with them. Flexitarians tend to focus the majority of their diet on plant-based meals, while being open to eating high-quality animal-based foods once in a while. Instead of eliminating foods such as lean meats or dairy products altogether, they are eaten in moderation.
The principles involved in the Flexitarian diet are:
- Eating fruit, vegetables, wholegrains, and legumes for the majority of meals
- Consuming protein from plant sources as much as possible
- Allowing yourself to use animal products moderately
- Focusing on natural and unprocessed foods
- Avoiding added sugars
Instead of restricting themselves, people on the flexitarian diet allow themselves to eat what they want in moderation, but focus mainly on plant-based foods.
2. The Nordic diet
The Nordic diet involves eating foods that are sourced from Nordic countries like Sweden, Norway, Iceland, and Finland. The diet itself is focused on reducing certain things such as sugar and fat, but adding in other healthier options, such as high-fiber choices and seafood. That said, the Nordic diet also has some flexibility, because most foods that are limited are not cut out completely.
For example, people on the Nordic diet should be eating fruits, vegetables, wholegrains, nuts, seeds, seafood, spices, and canola oils every day or almost every day. Foods such as eggs, cheese, yogurt, and meats are eaten only in moderation, and red meats and animal fats are indulged in only on rare occasions.
While most foods can be eaten on the Nordic diet, there are a few caveats: processed foods, fast food, added sugars, and anything with additives should be cut out altogether.
4. The Japanese diet
Like the Mediterranean and Nordic diets, the Japanese diet focuses on wholefoods such as fish, seafood, and other plant-based foods. Those on a Japanese diet limit their animal proteins and tend to avoid added sugars and fat. Another great aspect of the Japanese diet is that it has a heavy focus on seasonal ingredients and small portions. Poor portion control is a large aspect of unhealthy eating, and the Japanese diet strays away from overeating by replacing larger portions with satiating foods that are good for the body.
All four of the above healthy diets have things in common: they focus on wholefoods and plant-based options, and avoid the consumption of added sugars, fats, or processed foods. These similarities between the diets are what make them the healthiest in the world, because it’s been proven that added sugars and processed foods are heavily linked to many health problems such as heart disease, obesity, and diabetes.
So, eating the healthiest diet in the world doesn’t necessarily require you to follow any specific plan, as long as you’re eating with your health in mind and steering towards fruits, vegetables, wholegrains, plant-based options, and the moderate consumption of natural animal products.