So much of a healthy life is about forming good habits. For people in many European countries, healthy food, regular exercise and taking time to relax are part of their daily routines. That probably helps to explain their high rankings in Bloomberg’s list of the healthiest countries in 2019, released in February.
Bloomberg ranked 169 nations and regions for their overall health. It found that exceptionally healthy countries generally had healthy eating habits and leisurely lifestyles. TEENS has chosen the top three to share their secrets of success.
As the world’s healthiest nation in the 2019 Healthiest Country Index, Spain follows the so-called “Mediterranean diet”. This diet is heavy on olive oil, seafood, nuts and vegetables.
People often think that healthy food must be boring. Spanish cuisine, spicy and highly varied, proves the opposite. Paella is Spain’s most famous dish. It’s a platter of spiced rice with clams, chicken or rabbit. Paella with fish and shellfish “provides an important nutritional value: vitamin A, zinc, iron … essential minerals for the proper functioning of our body”, BBC Good Food noted.
However, the healthiest thing about Spain may not be the food, but rather the relaxed way that people enjoy it. While dining out, they may stay to talk, keep company and perhaps share a glass of wine. If the conversation gets good, they’ll stay for hours.
Like Spain, Italy’s typical diet also plays a huge role in the country’s health. Rich in vegetables, fruits, fish and healthy oils, their diet is also heavy in healthy grains, which are high in fiber.
Italians also enjoy a moderate intake of alcohol, namely a glass of wine with meals, which is known to have benefits for heart health. Like their neighbors in Spain, Italians also like to take their time at the dinner table.
Besides eating leisurely, Italians typically walk or cycle to their schools and offices. On average, Italians spend less time sitting around than people in other countries. “In good warm weather, walking or cycling may be playing a role in keeping us healthy for longer,” an Italian resident told BBC Travel.
With an extremely long life expectancy and low rates of infant mortality and pollution, Iceland is one of the healthiest countries in the world. So what are Icelanders doing right?
When it comes to eating, Icelanders keep things simple: lots of fresh, pure dishes made up largely of lean lamb, seafood and dairy from grass-fed cows. This diet reduces the risks of some chronic diseases, according to The Italian Tribune. Icelanders also tend to use high-quality olive oils when cooking or preparing salad dressing.
Maybe the most important thing is that Icelanders enjoy the benefits of their island’s natural hot springs. “Hot springs provide Icelanders with a family-centric site of relaxation to catch up on quality time and minimize stress,” wrote Denmark-based digital publishing platform Issuu.
(Translator & Editor: Wang Xingwei AND Ji Yuan)