Wondering if the old British diet is actually doing you any favours? Maybe we should be looking internationally for some inspiration to stay in shape.
We asked five nutritionists to pick their top healthy diet tips from around the globe to get you looking good and feeling great in time for summer.
Dr Marilyn Glenville said: “This is one of the healthiest diets in the world. The fish is supplying important Omega 3 fatty acids, which are known to reduce the risk of heart disease and strokes.
“Both the cruciferous vegetables and fermented soya have been shown to reduce the risk of breast cancer as they have a balancing effect on hormones.
“The Japanese also eat lot of seaweed that contains important trace minerals like selenium and iodine for healthy thyroid function. Sushi, the most popular dish in Japan, provides energy but it’s also low in fat and high in omega acids that keeps blood healthy.
“In general, many Japanese vegetables are unprocessed which means greater levels of vitamins and minerals.”
Dr Glenville says: ”When it comes to food, Icelanders keep things simple – fresh seafood, lean lamb. Most foods are grown and produced locally with hardly any pesticide use. Dairy products are often higher quality than ours as the first Nordic settlers to Iceland had a good knowledge of food preserving.
“High-quality yoghurts with beneficial bacteria are a must in Icelanders’ daily diet. Fresh fish is high in Omega 3 fatty acids, which help keep our hearts and brain healthy. They can help reduce the risk of dementia and Alzheimer’s as well as heart disease and strokes.”
“Just like Icelanders, Swedes eat high quality fermented dairy products that are crucial when it comes to digestion and immunity and 70% of our immune system is in our gut,” Dr Glenville said. “Although vegetables don’t play an important role, Scandinavian cuisine still has healthy elements.
“Berries, which are very high in antioxidants, are the favourite fruit in Sweden – usually picked up locally and used in desserts, they are a great source of vitamins.
“Swedes eat plenty of high quality complex unrefined carbohydrates in the form of ryebread, which is served alongside the main meal. Rye is full of fibre and keeps us fuller for longer.”
Sharon Morey, a nutritionist at Quest Vitamins, said: “Seafood, olive oil, vegetables, fruit and grains – all these healthy foods, packed with vitamins and minerals, have been linked to a reduced risk of heart disease and diabetes.
“Although Mediterranean dishes usually contain some cheese and meat, they are used in moderation. High amounts of olive oil lower the levels of total blood cholesterol and fight inflammation.
“The Mediterranean diet also emphasises fish high in Omega 3 fatty acids and foods containing antioxidants that can reduce the risk of memory loss and decrease brain function as we get older.”
Elouise Bauskis, nutritionist at Nutricentre, said: “Using chopsticks can help you to slow down while eating, which may ultimately decrease the amount of food eaten. Digestion starts in the mouth and as we chew we are releasing salivary enzymes like amylase that begin the breakdown of food, specifically carbohydrates.
“The more you chew your food, the smaller the particles will be as they pass into the stomach and the easier they are to digest, meaning you will be getting more nutrients from your food from easier absorption.
“You will find green tea in every Chinese house, which is their favourite hot drink. It eliminates toxins, aids digestion and curbs cravings. It can also fight free radicals, which cause cancer and heart disease.”
Adrienne Benjamin, nutritionist at Proven Probiotics, said: “Indian cuisine includes spices, which not only add flavour and appealing colour but also great health benefits.
“Turmeric has significant anti-inflammatory effects and helps relieve the symptoms of IBS. Ginger is very effective in easing discomfort in the stomach. It also promotes the elimination of excessive gas from the digestive system and soothes your gut.
“To refresh themselves, Indians drink Lassi – a traditional, yoghurt-based drink. Made of fermented milk and often flavoured with mint or mango, this healthy beverage is rich in ‘friendly bacteria’ and aids digestion.”
“Ethiopian cuisine is low in fat and high in nutrients with grains being the main component,” Dr Glenville said. “Teff – a whole grain high in fibre, iron, protein and calcium – is used to prepare most of the dishes. Grains are crucial in promoting digestive health and reducing the risk of bowel cancer.
“The most famous Ethiopian salad, Azifa, eaten with brown rice or pita bread, consists of green lentil. Lentils, which are high in fibre and protein but low in fat, are also classed as phytoestrogens with a balancing effect on hormones, both for men and women.”
Michela Vagnini, nutritionist at Nature’s Plus, said: ”Apart from cheese and baguettes French also tend to drink red wine with their dinner, which is packed with resveratrol.
“This powerful antioxidant is produced in plants to defend them from invading micro-organisms. It can not only protect you from damaging free radicals but it also boosts cell replication. By promoting a healthy, inflammatory response in our body it delays premature ageing process.
“A recent study shows that there has never been a drug in the history of pharmaceuticals that speeds up cell regeneration like resveratrol. Another study suggests that it can turn an additional weight into calorie-burning ‘brown’ fat.”
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