Which country has the best diet for older adults?
4th September 2017
This news article is from Handicare UK. Articles that appear on this website are for information purposes only.
Enjoying your older years to the fullest is the intention of many. However, this is very dependent on one’s attitude and health. Though many people may struggle with limited mobility, they can seek to overcome this with installing a straight home stair lift. Another way to manage your health is through your diet, but with so many experts and nutritionists giving a wealth of advice, it can be difficult to know where to start.
Looking at the healthiest countries and their diets is often easier than analysing a food group for its benefits. The Bloomberg Group Health Index grades 163 countries; taking into account variables such as life expectancy, causes of death, high blood pressure, and malnutrition.
Japan is a country with one of the oldest populations in the world. With 26.3% of its population over 65 in 2014 (according to World Health Statistics) it has a high proportion of older residents. The longevity of this country is often attributed to the diet, and the traditional Japanese diet differs from what is seen in sushi bars all over the world.
Often rich in vegetables, fresh fish, rice, tofu, and fruit, the traditional diet leaves Japan with the lowest obesity rate in the developed world at a miniscule 3.6%. Japanese cuisine also uses healthy condiments such as pickled ginger and soy sauce, which can be very strong so are therefore used sparingly.
For those looking to incorporate some Japanese influenced dishes into their day-to-day diet, Lovely Lanvin is a blog to follow. Easy and approachable recipes combined with Shirley’s positive approach makes this blog very welcoming.
The Mediterranean diet is often lauded for its health benefits and yet this rarely translates outside of the country. Pasta dishes and pizza are known for being high in fat, salt, and sugar. The real magic behind an Italian’s diet is simplicity. Good quality ingredients, locally sourced, and dressed with minimal fuss is often the tasty Italian away.
Despite being renowned for their love of carbohydrates, Italians eat pasta little and often, with small portions simply dressed. Traditional Italian pizzas have thin bases, are made fresh, and are rarely slathered in cheese. Even gelato is healthier than its cousin ice cream; mainly as it uses milk opposed to cream and (like many things in Italy) the process of making gelato is much slower, creating a quality product. Certain areas, such as Tuscany, incorporate a lot of beans into their diet, whereas coastal towns rely heavily on fish, with red meat occurring rarely.
For an insight into Italian eating, Elizabeth Minchilli in Rome is a fantastic blog to follow. Covering complex and simple recipes from all over the country, it is easy to adopt a couple of dishes a week. It helps that Elizabeth is instantly likeable with her self-depreciating style:
“I’m interrupting my self-imposed summer break from this blog for an emergency toast update. A few weeks ago, on Instagram Stories, I posted my breakfast, as I repeatedly do much to Domenico‘s dismay. “Who can possibly care what you are having for breakfast?” (It’s just a variation on his “Who can possibly care that you’re having coffee for the millionth time?).
Well, as it turns out, at least when it comes to Ricotta and Tomato Toast, people do care”
The interest in Scandinavian products has been on the rise for years, from the paired-back home aesthetic to the fashion. Now this trend has gone one step further with an increased interest in the Scandinavian diet. Though a healthy lifestyle is more than just diet, with exercise and mental well-being all contributing to a positive outlook, diet has a lot to do with it.
The Swedish often cook from scratch, avoiding processed foods that will contain excess salt or sugar. Their diet consists of foods that are easily and cheaply grown in colder climates, such as grains and oats. The Scandinavian diet concentrates on fish that are rich in omega -3s like herring, mackerel, and salmon as well as vegetables that are often from the brassica family and thus high in antioxidants and vitamin K. It is thought that the Scandinavian diet is easier for British people to adapt to as opposed to the Mediterranean diet.
Johanna K is an illustrator and food writer, whose whimsical blog is a combination between traditional Swedish dishes, glorious illustrations and thoughts about life in general. With a second cook book coming out, the Kokblog is well worth reading for inspiration.
Iceland’s isolation is the secret to the purity of their diet. As a remote island with a very short growing season, the people often hunt the seas and land for their food. The modern government has strict environmental regulations which helps to continue the local and wholesome cuisine. In opposition to the Italians, the Icelandic opt for a diet heavy in lamb, fish, and dairy.
Skyr is one of the most popular foods to have crossed from Iceland. The soft yoghurt-like cheese has been gaining momentum in the UK for a couple of years. Mixed in porridge, with fresh fruit or as a dessert, it has been touted as the healthiest type of yoghurt, high in protein and calcium.
As adopting the Scandinavian diet is a relatively new trend, it is hard to find a plethora of recipes for traditional Icelandic food, however if you head over to the blog Bite of Iceland, Adam and Marta not only have some lovely recipes but also beautiful photography to inspire anyone to try making some of Iceland’s finest food.
The diet in Israel combines element of the Mediterranean with touches of middle eastern and Levantine. Falafel and hummus are enormously popular while rice, lentils, and other grains all enjoy an important position within Israeli cuisine. Lean poultry is the choice of meat, with chicken being a firm favourite, followed by turkey. This meat is often prepared by grilling or barbequing, and Israel’s Independence Day is celebrated by this healthy cooking technique.
As one of the world’s leading citrus producers and exporters, it is no surprise that fresh fruit plays a significant role in the Israeli diet. And with an excess of mango varieties native to the country, the fruit is also often used in their cooking.
The Israeli Kitchen is the blog to check if you are looking for a bank of traditional recipes. With bright and tantalising images it is hard not to be inspired by the healthy recipes on offer.