Many of us are on an endless search for the healthiest diet to follow, and while there’s no one right way of eating for everyone, we can find similarities between many healthy styles of eating.
With everything we know now, it would be ignorant for us to disregard the role that diet and nutrition play on our health. Down to our core, we are what we eat.
While the title for ‘World’s Healthiest Diet is Debatable’ the study does gesture that traditional Israelis follow the world’s least unhealthy diet.
These researchers have been tracking trends for 15 dietary factors in 195 countries for 27 years (1990-2017). Globally, in 2017, dietary risks were responsible for 11 million deaths among adults and took a total of 255 million DALY (disability-adjusted life year). A DALY is a measure of overall disease burden, expressed as the number of years lost due to ill-health.
Cardiovascular disease was the leading cause of diet-related deaths (10 million deaths), followed by cancers (913,090 deaths), and type 2 diabetes (338 714 deaths). More than 5 million diet-related deaths occurred among adults aged younger than 70 years. 
We should already know that a less than sufficient or poor diet, which lacks nutrient-dense foods have been related to many deaths across the globe. Our poor eating habits don’t kill us instantly, however first they decrease our quality of life as they slow damage our well-being and reduce our life span.
Choosing to consume foods which are high in sodium, inflammatory fats and sugar instead of opting in for vegetables, fruits, whole unprocessed grains, legumes, omega-3 fats, nuts and seeds puts you at stake for many health risks. This paper by the University of Washington also emphasizes how the nation needs an intervention to promote the production, distribution, and consumption of healthy foods.
In this 27 year study, Israel ranked number one (89 deaths per 100,000 people), France, Spain, Japan and Andorra ranked as the lowest diet-related deaths. Canada (125 per 100,000 people) ranked before the UK (127 deaths per 100,000 people), above Ireland (24th) and Sweden (25th). The US ranked 43rd (171 deaths per 100,000) and China ranked 140th (350 deaths per 100,000 people).
Israel ranking number one shouldn’t come as a total surprise. Israel sits on the Mediterranean crest, which is known and praised for its diet rich in vegetables, fish and healthy fats.
So what’s involved in a traditional Israelian diet?
A survey conducted on behalf of the Volcani Center, Israel’s government-sponsored agricultural research organization, asked Israelis about their fruit and vegetable consumption.
- 80% of participants said they eat fruit and vegetables nearly every day
- 41% said their favorite fruit was various citrus fruits, while another 35% declared it was watermelon
- Tomatoes were also very popular, topping the list for 44% of respondents
- Cucumber is also an Israeli staple, often found in chopped salads alongside tomatoes
- Israel also has a high consumption of legumes as well, and the use of beef and fish is moderate
It’s great to find these things out, but don’t wait for the ‘World’s Healthiest Diet’ to be announced – start eating healthy now.
- Health effects of dietary risks in 195 countries, 1990–2017: a systematic analysis for the Global Burden of Disease Study 2017 https://www.thelancet.com/journals/lancet/article/PIIS0140-6736(19)30041-8/fulltext#sec1
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