Despite a struggling economy, Italy has been ranked the world’s healthiest nation. The country topped the Bloomberg Global Health index, placing 1st out of 163 countries.
A baby born in Italy can expect to live to at least 80, with the country also containing a ‘blue zone’ in the Barbagia region of Sardinia. In these highlands, there are 10 times as many centurians as in America.
Italy scored an impressive health grade of 93.11 out of 100, whereas the UK scored 82.28 putting them in the 23rd spot and the US scored 73.05 coming in 34th.
Image: Bloomberg Global Health Index
So what makes Italians so healthy?
Italy has “an excess of doctors,” said Tom Kenyon, a physician and CEO of the global relief organization Project Hope. This abundance of readily available healthcare accounts for one reason, but of course, the most likely factor is their Mediterranean diet.
Italy is home to some of the best cuisine in the world. Food is deeply embedded into their culture and the classic Italian diet encompasses plenty of vegetables, olive oil, pasta, lean meats and fresh fish.
This resulted in Italians having lower blood pressure and cholesterol than other developed nations.
Meditteranean diets are considered one of the healthiest and sustainable to follow so it’s no surprise that this is why Italy have scored so highly.
The Mediterranean diet
A meta-analysis of more than 1.5 million healthy adults has shown that a Mediterranean diet not only results in lower risk of cardiac morality but overall mortality as well.
Experts have different opinions towards the specifics of a Mediterranean diet, but the foods central to the diet include:
- Plenty of fruit & veg (7 – 10 servings per day)
- Extra virgin olive oil
- Poultry and fish (red meat is limited to a few times per month)
- Red wine in moderation
- Whole grains (bread, pasta, rice, quinoa – starchy foods are by no means off limits)
- Avoid processed and refined foods
Breakfast in Venice.
The virtues of the diet are no secret as illustrated by the top-scoring Italians. It’s something everyone can benefit from and it’s a sustainable lifestyle change, aiding weight-loss and general health and far away from the fad diets popular for their short-term success.
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