Over 100 countries have Food-Based Dietary Guidelines which outline nutrition, food availability, culinary cultures and eating habits of each individual country.
Like many things in life, we can always learn something from our neighbours. So, let’s have a look at the Top 3 “Healthy Countries” and see if we can learn a thing or two from their Food Guidelines.
This pizza and pasta loving country came in at number one! Did you know that tomatoes were once thought to be toxic? It wasn’t until the invention of pizza that it began its journey to becoming the beloved ingredient it is today. With all the health benefits of tomatoes we learnt about in the first “Colours of the Rainbow” blog – could this love for tomato-based cuisine be what makes Italy the healthiest country in the world?
Italy’s Dietary Guidelines are simple and straight to the point – highlighting the importance of cereals, legumes and lots of fruits and vegetables. Many believe that it is also Italian’s love for extra virgin olive oil – high in monounsaturated fats that may reduce the risk of heart disease, as well as polyphenols which act as potent antioxidants – and their love for fresh produce, appears to be the key to their healthy lifestyle.
An interesting fact about Iceland is that it is the only country in the world, without ANY McDonalds. Maybe that’s one of the reasons they come in 2nd! Iceland’s dietary guidelines focus on the intake of fish and dairy products, which is believed to contribute to their healthy lifestyle and long life expectancy. Consuming fish provides us with Omega 3’s which are important for a healthy heart and joints.
As you may know water is extremely important for our health and vitality. This is one thing we can learn from the Swiss. Switzerland’s Dietary Guideline Pyramid has water- based beverages (tap water, bottled water, tea) in the largest part of the pyramid at the bottom. Water is followed by fresh fruits and vegetables, grains and cereal products, proteins and healthy fats as the next most important dietary requirements. Culturally, what stands out, is the Swiss people's’ love for sports and outdoor activities. Keeping active is essential for our health and happiness!
Fun Fact: Did you know that Antigua & Barbuda as well as Fiji’s Dietary Guidelines are in the shape of a pineapple?
Fun Fact: Did you know that Australia was classified as the 5th “Healthiest Country in the World” in 2017? We also came in as 9th in the “Top 10 Happiest Countries” in the world!
- Food & Agriculture Organization of the United Nations.Food-based dietary guidelines. Food & Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. [Online] United Nations, 2018. http://www.fao.org/nutrition/nutrition-education/food-dietary-guidelines/en/
- John Helliwell, Richard Layard, and Jeffrey Sachs Associate Editors: Jan-Emmanuel De Neve, Haifang Huang and Shun Wang. World Happiness Report 2017. World Happiness. [Online] 2017. http://worldhappiness.report/