Wednesday, June 19, 2013

The World's Healthiest Diets

After living in an international dorm in college Ayren Jackson-Cannady, the author of this article, says she "should have been studying her Parisian roommate's eating habits instead of just coveting her style." Because in nations with low obesity rates, women know how to eat right and enjoy every bite. So she got his idea to try different international diets for a week each and see what happened. Here is what she did -

Despite baguettes and Brie, French women have the lowest average body mass index in Europe. "It's true that the French eat for pleasure, but they enjoy cream, cheese, and wine in moderation," says Mary Brighton, RD, a health and food blogger who lives in Pau, France. 

Slimming Secrets 
Eat slowly. The length of the average French meal has decreased in recent years, but it still clocks in at a leisurely 42 minutes. 
Make lunch the main event. French breakfasts are small, but lunch is a big deal and might include soup, salad, a chicken entrĂ©e with at least one vegetable, and a light dessert, like sorbet. Supper is lighter and later, usually eaten around 8 or 9. 
Treat yourself.  The French enjoy a petite treat at the end of each meal -- a piece of dark chocolate, an espresso, or an after-dinner drink.

It's no surprise that the obesity rate in Japan is less than 4 percent: The country's traditional diet has long been touted as one of the healthiest in the world. "People who live in the Okinawa region of Japan, specifically, are four to five times more likely than Americans to live to 100," Dr. Miller says. 

Slimming Secrets
Start with soup. Miso soup is part of most meals, including breakfast. A study of more than 5,000 people found that women who ate soup five to six times a week were more likely to have healthy BMIs than those who sipped it less frequently. 
Brighten up your plate. There's a proverb in Japan that says, "Not dressing up the meal with color is like sending someone out of the house without clothes." The Japanese try to incorporate five hues -- red, blue-green, yellow, white, and black -- into every meal. 
Stop while you're ahead. Japanese people don't belong to the clean-plate club. In Okinawa, there's a popular saying, "Hara hachi bu," which means "Eat until you're 80 percent full." 
People in Sweden, Norway, and Denmark have long had one of the lowest obesity rates in Europe. Only 13.4 percent of the Danish population and 10 percent of Norwegians are obese, and Icelanders have a 50 percent lower death rate from heart disease and diabetes than North Americans, Dr. Miller says. 

Slimming Secrets 
Better your bread. In Scandinavia the most beloved loaf is rye. "There are two types of fiber: soluble, found in rye, and insoluble, found in wheat," explains Katherine Tallmadge, RD, the author of Diet Simple. "Both make you feel full, but the soluble kind also lowers cholesterol and glycemic response, causing less glucose in the bloodstream, which means fewer blood sugar spikes and cravings." 
Go fish. Danish people consume more than twice as much fish as Americans, says Arne Astrup, MD, PhD, the nutrition department head at the University of Copenhagen. "Seafood is lower in calories and fat than other protein sources," Scritchfield says. And much of the fat in the fish that's popular in Scandinavia -- herring, tuna, salmon, mackerel, and cod -- is heart-healthy omega-3s.
Hit the farmers' market. But not just in the summer. The Nordic diet is full of cold-climate vegetables -- cabbage, cauliflower, kale, and brussel sprouts -- and mushrooms.

In one study, people who consumed the traditional diet of the Mediterranean (key elements include produce, healthy fats, whole grains, lean protein, and red wine) for 25 weeks lost an average of 8 percent of their body weight

Slimming Secrets

Get an oil change. Extra virgin olive oil, a cornerstone of the Mediterranean diet, may help control your appetite. A study from the University of California, Irvine, found that the oleic acid it contains triggers the production of a hunger-curbing compound in the small intestine. 
Spice things up. Mediterranean cooks are all about fresh herbs -- basil, dill, bay leaf, fennel, and mint -- and spices. These weight-loss secret weapons pack serious flavor, allowing you to cut back on high-cal ingredients. 
Use meat sparingly. Supersized steak dinners are uncommon in the traditional Mediterranean diet; meat plays a supporting role and is used to add flavor. 

She dropped five pounds, planted an herb garden on my balcony, has meatless Mondays (Thursdays, too), and her pantry is stocked with dark chocolate so rich that I don't want to stuff the whole bar in my mouth (mine actually is too! I love me dark chocolate!)


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