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Which Country Has The World’s Best Diet (And How Can We Learn From It)?

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Which Country Has The World’s Best Diet (And How Can We Learn From It)?

In our modern world, nothing quite highlights the privileges we posses like the availability of food and the overconsumption present in our society. Those who have access to grocery stores rarely take the time to reflect on just how fortunate they are to have such an abundance of food at their disposal. This creates a dangerous complex and the byproducts are issues like morbid obesity, diabetes, and heart disease.

The overabundance of food in restaurants and at stores raises a question: are these first-world conveniences hurting us more than they are helping us? Sure, we all need to eat everyday, but is the accessibility factor actually responsible for unhealthy outcomes in countries like America?

An important study spanning decades

The Lancet Global Health recently posted a journal based on a decade-long study of the diets of almost 4.5 billion adults across 187 countries. Their findings are both important and surprising. Those who live in high-income countries often do not realize that the vast number of food-related conveniences at their disposal can actually be a dangerous thing.

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    According to this research, which contains data that spans two decades, people from countries in Africa such as Chad, Mali, and Cameroon have the healthiest overall diets. Other low-income countries such as India and China have consistently healthy diets as well.

    The study found that although the worldwide consumption of healthy foods has increased during the last two decades, so has the the intake of unhealthy foods such as processed meals and excessively sweet drinks. In countries like America, people have grown accustomed to getting exactly what they want, exactly when they want it. Thus, supply and demand creates an avenue for overconsumption and excessive waste. These concepts are ideologies of the psychology of grocery stores.

    The findings of this study propose that nations have been increasing their consumption of unhealthy foods at different rates. A large number of high-income nations are showing decreased rates of consuming unhealthy foods, but they are still far behind most African countries in terms of truly healthy eating. These countries have had healthy diets for generations and practice much more restraint when it comes to leading balanced lifestyles.

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    An article from The Telegraph identifies the best of the healthy and worst of the unhealthy:

    Countries with the healthiest diets:

    • Chad
    • Mali
    • Cameroon
    • Guyana
    • Tunisia
    • Sierra Leone
    • Laos
    • Nigeria
    • Guatemala
    • French Guiana

    Countries with the most unhealthy diets:

    • Armenia
    • Hungary
    • Belgium
    • USA
    • Russia
    • Iceland
    • Latvia
    • Brazil
    • Colombia
    • Australia

    So how does America truly stack up? America is easily one of the most unhealthy places in world, ranking near the top of the “unhealthy diets” list.

    America is experiencing an ongoing health crisis. One in four deaths in the United States is related to heart disease, which is commonly a byproduct of poor diet, and 735,000 Americans have heart attacks each year. Aside from cardiac issues, obesity is a massive problem in the United States as well.

    A little more than one third of children and adolescents are overweight or obese. Rates of obesity have more than doubled in children and quadrupled in adolescents in just the past 30 years. Childhood obesity is certainly an issue we must face.

    Beyond poor diet choices, millions of Americans are dependent on alcohol and 81.3 million Americans smoke tobacco products or use smokeless tobacco regularly.

    Think about how overconsumption may be a part of your life. Focusing more on healthy foods at proper portions instead of constantly indulging is a step in the right direction. I’m by no means implying that you should give up all of your favorite foods and snacks cold turkey. Focus on a lifestyle that is balanced.

    A great way to lead a healthier lifestyle is by introducing new healthier meals into your diet. The following African-inspired dishes are an excellent jumpstart to a healthier mindset. (All recipes courtesy of Eating Well).

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    Three African dishes that are healthy and delicious

    Moroccan-Style Stuffed Peppers

    “Aromatic savory-and-sweet stuffed peppers are a satisfying supper, thanks to lean beef, brown rice and bell pepper in each bite. Serve with rainbow chard sautéed with olive oil, garlic and parsley.”

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      Ingredients:

      • 1 8- to 10-ounce bag microwavable brown rice or 1 2/3 cups cooked brown rice
      • 4 medium-to-large bell peppers, tops cut off and seeded
      • 1 pound lean (90% or leaner) ground beef
      • 1/2 cup currants
      • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
      • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
      • 2 1/2 cups low-sodium vegetable juice, such as V8, divided
      • 1/4 cup chopped fresh mint, plus more for garnish
      • 1 teaspoon freshly grated orange zest
      • 3/4 teaspoon salt
      • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

      1. Heat rice according to package directions. (If using cooked rice, skip to Step 2.)

      2. Place peppers upside-down in a microwave-safe round casserole dish just large enough to fit them. Add 1/2 inch water to the dish and cover with a lid or inverted dinner plate. Microwave on High until the peppers are tender but still hold their shape, 3 to 6 minutes. Drain the water and turn the peppers right-side up.

      3. Meanwhile, cook beef and garlic in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat, breaking up the beef with a wooden spoon, until no longer pink, 4 to 6 minutes. Stir in currants, cumin and cinnamon and cook for 1 minute. Stir in the rice and cook for 30 seconds more. Remove from the heat and stir in 1/2 cup vegetable juice, cup mint, orange zest, salt and pepper.

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      4. Spoon the beef mixture into the peppers. Pour the remaining 2 cups vegetable juice into the dish and cover. Microwave on High until the juice and filling are hot, 2 to 3 minutes. Serve the peppers with the sauce and garnish with mint, if desired.

      Kumquat Tagine

      “A tagine is a slow-cooked Moroccan stew (traditionally served over couscous)—but here it’s quicker and (dare we say it?) tastier, thanks in large part to the bright spike of kumquats.”

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        Ingredients:

        • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
        • 2 onions, thinly sliced
        • 4 cloves garlic, slivered
        • 1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
        • 2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs, trimmed of fat, cut into 2-inch pieces
        • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
        • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
        • 3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
        • 1/2 teaspoon salt
        • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
        • 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
        • 1 14-ounce can vegetable broth
        • 12 ounces kumquats, seeded and roughly chopped (2 cups)
        • 1 15-ounce can chickpeas, rinsed
        • 1 1/2 tablespoons honey

        1. Preheat oven to 375°F.

        2. Heat oil in an ovenproof casserole or Dutch oven over medium heat. Add onions; cook, stirring often, until softened, about 4 minutes. Add garlic and ginger; cook for 1 minute, stirring constantly.

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        3. Add chicken; cook, stirring often, for 8 minutes. Stir in coriander, cumin, cinnamon, salt, pepper and cloves; cook until aromatic, about 20 seconds. Stir in broth, kumquats, chickpeas and honey. Bring to a simmer.

        4. Cover the pan and transfer to the oven. Bake, stirring occasionally, until the chicken is cooked through and the broth is bubbling and somewhat reduced, about 1 hour.

        Grilled Salmon with North African Flavors

        “Our version of the classic North African herb paste known as chermoula serves as both a marinade and a sauce for this richly flavored salmon. If it is too cool to grill outdoors, you can roast the salmon at 450 degrees F for 12 to 15 minutes.”

        MF4448

          Ingredients:

          • 1/4 cup low-fat or nonfat plain yogurt
          • 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
          • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
          • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
          • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
          • 3 cloves garlic, minced
          • 1 1/2 teaspoons paprika
          • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
          • 1/4 teaspoon salt, or to taste
          • Freshly ground pepper, to taste
          • 1 pound center-cut salmon fillet, cut into 4 portions
          • 1 lemon, cut into wedges

          1. Stir together yogurt, parsley, cilantro, lemon juice, oil, garlic, paprika, cumin, salt and pepper in a small bowl. Reserve 1/4 cup for sauce; cover and refrigerate. Place salmon fillets in a large sealable plastic bag. Pour in the remaining herb mixture, seal the bag and turn to coat. Refrigerate for 20 to 30 minutes, turning the bag over once.

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          2. Meanwhile, preheat grill to medium-high.

          3. Oil the grill rack. Remove the salmon from the marinade, blotting any excess. Grill the salmon until browned and opaque in the center, 4 to 6 minutes per side. To serve, top each piece with a dollop of the reserved sauce and garnish with lemon wedges.

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          Robert Parmer

          Freelance Writer

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          Last Updated on November 22, 2021

          Thanksgiving: It’s About The Simple Things

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          Thanksgiving: It’s About The Simple Things

          Thanksgiving, a day of pure gluttony, football, and possible uncomfortable situations with family members that you may or may not like. Oh, yeah, and the whole “know and reflect on what it is to be thankful and grateful.”

          During the holiday season many people forget what this time of year is bout and are too worried about getting the “early-bird” deals on Black Friday and making sure that they have the perfect gifts for their loved ones. I am sort of a “Grinch” when it comes to the holiday season, mostly because of that mentality by many of the poeple around me.

          But instead of being grinch-like this holiday season, I decided to simplify things and get back to what this time of year is actually is about; being thankful for what I have and what I can give.

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          Simplify

          I’m not a “minimalist” in any real sense, but in the last few months the talks of Patrick Rhone and others have got me to rethink my stance. Can you really have too much stuff?

          Absolutely.

          And with all that stuff comes the burden and the weight of it on your back.

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          If you feel that the things around you are out of control, maybe it’s time to simplify and be thankful and grateful for what you have and use. Here are a few things that you can do to simplify:

          • You know those gadgets in the drawer that you said you were going to sell? Well, time to get the listing on eBay and sell them. Or, send them to a place like Gazelle. Even if they are old and won’t get money, you can at least recycle them.
          • Get rid of things you don’t need. Like old books, clothes, tools, etc. Have something that’s been laying around forever with no use? Donate it to a charity or church. If you aren’t using it, someone else could be.
          • Find your productivity tools and stick with them. Use tools and gadgets that serve multiple purposes so you can simplify your tool set.

          Be Mindful

          You don’t have to be a master Buddhist or meditator to be mindful (although, it can definitely help). Being mindful comes down to being cognizant of the present and not keeping yourself in the past or future. It’s about living in the moment and being aware of yourself and everything around you. It’s just being.

          Without getting too “California” on you, it is super important to be mindful during the holiday rush. Rather than worrying about the things that you forgot at your house on the way to relatives or thinking about the next stop in your endless holiday travels, just breath and think about what you are currently doing.

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          Spend the time with your family and friends and don’t crush the moment. Try not to concentrate so hard on getting the perfect photo of the “awesome moment” of the day and actually miss the awesome moment.

          Being mindful over the holidays will help you be with your families, friends, and yourself allowing you to enjoy your time.

          Reflect

          As the year is coming to a close (yes, it really is that close!) it’s a great time to start reflecting on what you have accomplished and what you haven’t. Within the next few weeks we will have a more throrough reflection article here at Lifehack.org, but reflecting every now and then over your holiday break is a great way to see where you have been doing well in your life and where you need to improve.

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          Reflection shouldn’t be used to “get down” on yourself. Reflection should be used to take an honset inventory of what you have accomplished, how you handeled situations, and what you can do better. If you journal everyday (a daily form of reflection) it may be a good time to start going over some of the things that you have written and start to put together a year’s end journal entry. I mean, how else will you write your autobiography?

          But, seriously, reflecting on yourself makes you aware of your successes and faults and helps you plan and make goals for the coming year. It makes you a better person.

          So, while you are stuffing your face with bird, stuffing, and mashed taters’, remember that the holidays are much more than the superficial things. Use this holiday to become a better person.

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          Featured photo credit: Libby Penner via unsplash.com

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