August 6

Which Culture Has The Healthiest Diet?

Filed under More Than Raw Foods, Vegetarian & Vegan Nutrition by Frederic Patenaude

Health has been a passion of mine for quite some time. Another passion of mine also happens to be traveling the world and experiencing different cultures.

One thing you’ll quickly notice once you get out of the typical North-American culture is that people around the world have vastly different diets from one another.

At the same time, different cultures also experience different levels of health. So today we’ll be taking a look into the specifics of several of the most notable cultures around the world and see how their food choices contribute to their health, for better or for worse.

Keep in mind that many of those cultures are becoming more and more Americanized, for better and for worse. However, we’ll look at the traditional element of each diet, which tends to predominate culturally in spite of the westernization of the planet.

France

Much to the confusion of traditional wisdom from most nutritionist of today, in France people traditionally tend to eat a diet rich in high-fat foods that most people would consider unhealthy, yet they experience much lower rates of heart disease and stroke than most other countries in Europe and North America, as well as smaller waist lines.

The notion of butter and croissants equating to lower rates of heart disease has been deemed, “The French Paradox”.

But taking a closer look at not just the diet, but the overall lifestyle as well may be the key to understanding their good health.

Despite a diet rich in butter and cream, the French also have several cultural practices that contribute to a healthy lifestyle. For example, the typical French breakfast is something light like coffee, fresh fruit, and a small croissant.

The lighter breakfast, and for some French people, entirely skipping their morning meal, allows the body to spend more time detoxifying without being burdened by a heavy breakfast first thing in the morning. And while the verdict is still out, there may be something to the antioxidants in the moderate amounts of red wine the French regularly drink with meals too.

Another thing you will notice in France is that people walk everywhere, and consistent low-level activity is just a part of their daily lives. Add that to a healthy dose of quality fresh fruits and vegetables available to and consumed by the locals, you definitely have a big improvement over the typical Western diet and lifestyle. But with the average life expectancy of 82, France doesn’t take the prize for the healthiest culture just yet.

Thailand

Thailand is a country that I have a fair bit of experience traveling in. One thing I’ve noticed over the years is that the more affluent the Thai people get, the more money they have to spend on Western foods like ice cream and fast food.

As with any culture, when this happens you’ll always notice their waistlines expand and health deteriorate. But overall, the typical Thai diet is pretty healthy.

Fresh fruits and vegetables play a big role in the traditional Thai diet. Most of the fruits and vegetables eaten by Thai people are purchased from the market on a daily basis. In most cases, the fruits and vegetables were picked just that morning too.

When it comes to actual mealtime, they are big on carbohydrate-rich foods like rice and rice noodles. I’ve seen Thai people carrying bowls of rice so big that you would assume that it’s for their entire family, but they sit down and eat the whole thing themselves with some stir-fried veggies and soy sauce! Many Thai people eat meat, but it’s treated more like a condiment. For example, they will have a few slices of beef or pork on top of their rice and vegetables, or a small piece of fish. Meat is certainly not the focus of a meal as is common in the West.

People tend to think that carbohydrates are fattening, yet some of the leanest cultures in the world eat a diet where carbohydrates predominate.

Almost no dairy foods are traditionally consumed, and instead things like coconut milk are more prevalent in Thai cooking.

Traditional Thai people tend to be lean and fit as well. But they also tend to be very heavy on the vegetable oil with much of their cooking, and eating fried street food is the norm for many Thais.

I’ve frequently noticed Thai people having varying degrees of skin problems too, which may be attributed to the excess of oil and fried food in the diet. It also may be genetics, or the fact that so many Thai people smoke cigarettes too. In spite of this, the average Thai does live to 74, not too far behind many Western countries.

Mediterranean Countries

“The Mediterranean Diet” is something that has been highly popularized in the diet scene. There are many countries in the Mediterranean region, and their foods and culture do vary a bit, but there are several countries like Italy, Spain, Greece, and Croatia that all experience good health and have a similarly healthy diet.

The focus of diets in the Mediterranean region is on primarily whole plant foods like whole grains, beans and legumes, fruits, vegetables, and pastas. Things like lean poultry and seafood are also included. Most of the fat in their diet comes from plant sources, namely olive oil, olives, and the fats found in nuts and seeds.

The Mediterranean regions also attribute much of their good health to their daily lifestyle. People mostly walk from place to place and post-meal walks with family are common.

There is also an emphasis on communal eating with good friends and family that creates a happy and relaxed environment. Anyone who’s experienced losing their appetite when they are stressed out, or getting a sour stomach upon becoming upset shortly after eating, can attest to how important it is to eat in a relaxed atmosphere.

This active and relaxed lifestyle combined with the abundance of fresh fruits and vegetables in the Mediterranean region certainly contributes much of the area’s good health. Italy and Spain’s average life expectancy clocks high on the list at 82 years, while Greece ranks just behind at 81.

India

Traditional Indian food has a lot going for it in terms of health: generous doses of antioxidant-rich spices like turmeric, a base of healthy carbohydrates coming from rice and whole-wheat roti bread, and a plethora of vegetable-heavy dishes using cauliflower, tomatoes, potatoes, and all sorts of greens. Not a bad start.

When put into practice however, it’s easy to turn otherwise healthy food into something not-so-healthy thanks to plenty of oil and ghee (clarified butter common in Indian cooking).

Particularly in the northern regions of India, where ghee, paneer cheeses, yogurt, meat, and fried food is consumed much more regularly and in higher quantities, type 2 Diabetes is among the most prevalent in the world. In the southern parts of India, rice and vegetable-based meals are the focus, and most of the dairy in cooking is replaced with coconut milk.

This results in more vegetarian and vegan-friendly cuisine, and coincidentally lower rates of disease than the ghee-slinging parts of North India.

While the diet of most people in India is an improvement over the junk-food-filled standard Western diet, the average Indian still only lives to 65 years. This may be due to other factors, such as hygiene and poverty levels.

California Beach Diet

Worth mentioning as well is the diet of the stereotypical California health/fitness fanatic, as California has always been a major hub for the health movement.

The focus is on preferably locally sourced sources of lean protein like fish and poultry, fresh local fruits and vegetables, “good carbs” like quinoa and brown rice, and “good fats” like avocados and nut and seeds. This results in a diet moderate in fat and carbs and low in processed, refined junk foods.

In terms of staying fit and looking good, this approach obviously works well as many fitness models and actors and actresses abide by a regimen like this.

As far as life expectancy, they aren’t lacking in this department either. The average Californian lives to 80.8 years, in the top three for states in the United States.

Japan

There’s been plenty of talk about the Japanese and Okinawans and their sweet potato and rice-based diets fueling the longest life expectancy in the world.

The average Japanese man lives to 79 while the average woman lives to 86, resulting in the world’s highest average life expectancy of 83.

But what’s so special about the Japanese diet? Is there one secret ingredient that allows them to live so long? Not so much one specific thing, more so the culmination of more than a few things working in their favor.

The Japanese and Okinawans are known for consuming a plant-based diet with rice, rice noodles, and Japanese sweet potatoes being the base. Moderate amounts of fish and seafood are regularly consumed as well.

In addition to the seafood consumed, generous amounts of seaweed, common in soups and sushi, are consumed regularly and contribute to a diet particularly high in the mineral iodine.

Ample amounts of soy products are regularly eaten, including tofu and edamame, as well as traditionally fermented soy foods like super-salty miso (miso soup anyone?), soy sauce, tamari, and tempeh.

Green tea is sipped with and in-between meals, adding a huge dose of antioxidants to the Japanese diet. Adding another mini-paradox to this mix is the amount of sodium consumed via foods like miso, tamari, and soy sauce: The average American consumes 3,500mg. of sodium per day while the average Japanese consumes 4,650mg. or more per day, yet the Japanese experience significantly lower rates of heart disease.

What can we learn from observing the health and food choices of different cultures from around the world?

Most of them consume a plant-based diet rich in fresh fruits and vegetables and avoid or minimize the consumption of overly processed junk foods like candy and other packaged foods.

But perhaps just as important is the lifestyle that these people live. Regular low-level activity like walking, communal meals enjoyed with good friends and family in a relaxed environment, and an overall low-stress lifestyle all contributes to the health and longevity of the world’s healthiest cultures.

My Thoughts:

French Diet: Personally, I think that the primary factor that results in the French’s superior health is their overall low-stress and less chaotic lifestyle (compared to those of us in the West) combined with a good dose of fresh produce and regular activity, like walking and biking. While I’m not going to argue in favor of drenching everything you eat in Hollandaise sauce, there is something to be said about easing up and just enjoying your life instead of stressing out about every little aspect.

Thai Diet: I think that the Thais certainly have a leg-up over the competition, considering they follow a predominately plant based diet focused on healthy carb foods. But when it comes down to how most Thais actually prepare the food, there’s far too much oil and fried, greasy food to be considered a truly healthy diet.

Mediterranean Diet: The bounty of amazing quality fresh fruits and vegetables is a big boon to the Mediterranean-style diet. And just like the French, relaxing and regular activity certainly plays a key role in their good health. Despite what marketers might want you to think however, you’re not going to magically get healthy by pouring olive oil all over everything you’re already eating!

Indian Diet: Like the Thai diet, the Indian diet has a good start with plenty of vegetables and healthy carbs like rice and other whole grains. But the slew of ghee and other high-fat dairy foods so common in Northern Indian cooking just ends up bogging down otherwise healthy food. If you had the choice, I would opt for a diet more similar to that of southern India: lower in fat and higher in plant foods.

California Beach Diet: The lower fat diet and abundance of fresh produce is a great start. But realistically, how many times per week can someone eat bland skinless chicken breast, salad, and a bit of quinoa? Not very many people, unless they are ultra-motivated to fit into that size two dress for their upcoming movie. So while it’s a good start, I don’t think it’s a great long-term diet for most people.

Japanese Diet: The Japanese have a lot going right in terms of their diet: high in carbs and vegetables, a cultural norm of eating until you are satisfied vs. overstuffed, and quality traditional foods that have been consumed by them for centuries, like natto. All are things that I definitely approve of.

But while the Japanese might experience the best health of any other place in the world, you don’t have to pick just one culture or practice to abide by. Why not take the best qualities of each?

Question of the day: Which culture do you think has the healthiest diet?

Some sources:: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21616196
http://ije.oxfordjournals.org/content/36/3/600.full.pdf
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_life_expectancy

21 Responses to “Which Culture Has The Healthiest Diet?”

  1. Margaret says:

    Frederic, regarding the Japanese diet, you missed, as most Westerners do, the fact that the Japanese lace any and all foods they eat with SUGAR. They actually call sugar “mother’s taste”. It is in every food they prepare. How do I know? I have lived with Japanese people. I have looked at the food they prepare, and I have asked them to spell, in Japanese, the word for sugar, so that I can read the ingredients listings on the products they use to prepare food.
    I am highly sugar-sensitive, which is why I became suspicious of Japanese food in the first place. In my case, sugar brings on rashes. I am careful of what I eat, so, if I suddenly get a sugar rash, I have to look at what I have eaten that I normally don’t eat. Japanese food always causes me a rash. The only Japanese food that hasn’t caused me is miso soup made from scratch, which Japanese people rarely make, because they can buy instant miso soup.
    I am constantly amazed that no one has ever noticed these things about Japanese food. Oh, I know why! People naively believe what Japanese people tell them, or what they see in Japanese restaurants. You can’t see sugar. It is in sushi rice (of course, they won’t admit it), and it is in every single thing that you can get in a Japanese for Japanese people restaurant. In a Japanese for Americans restaurant, it is probably in more than everything.

  2. Ryan says:

    The Hunza blow these figures out of the water.
    If you’re not healthy and fit at 100, you’re doing it wrong.

  3. Margaret says:

    Oh, I forgot the other half of your message, which says that Japanese people exercise a lot. I don’t know which Japanese people you have been observing. Most Japanese people that I know about 30, and I have known many more in the past. As far as I know, based on what my Japanese students tell me (I assume they are not lying), most Japanese people are happy to sit in front of the computer in every free moment, playing video games, or chatting with their friends or reading their email. They don’t have time to go out because they are so busy with their computers. Of course, I am mostly talking about Japanese people from 20 – 35 years old. Those older don’t even go on the Internet. They just sit around watching Japanese TV.
    You will say that I am being mean, but I am just telling you what I know based on my New York City ESL classes – I rarely meet a Japanese person who wants to go out and meet an American, who wants to taste American food, or who wants to go and see things in New York City, other than the Broadway shows “Mama Mia” and “Chicago”. Thus, I tend to think that their comments on Japanese are pure.

  4. Margaret says:

    Regarding Thai food, there is an awful lot of sugar in this food. Get a Thai recipe book and ask someone to tell you the word for sugar. You will only need that word. It is everywhere.
    Now, I am quite curious about your comment that Thai people are lean. Based on what I see in my ESL classes, 50% of Thais are overweight, even obese. It could be that you frequent places in Thailand where they screen their employees and only allow slim ones (that happens a lot in many countries) Or else, it could be that they are shipping all fat Thais to New York City, since it seems none of them are showing up in your part of Canada.

  5. mary says:

    i think possibly the Japanees may have the best diet. unfortunately I don’t know that nattto or tamari are. I would like to have some seaweed. I walk atleast 2 miles a day and am 71. I do try to eat mostly better often quinoa for breakfast?/lunch. Veg and fruits can be a problem at times because of the price. Feet are my transprotation. grammarpinks1@gmail.com

  6. Freedom 4 All says:

    This is nonsense. There is NOTHING wrong with healthy fats like ghee, butter, coconut oil, and animal fats. There is EVERYTHING wrong with large amounts of fast-burning carbs like rice, potatoes, etc. Might as well eat a bowl of sugar for it’s going to do nearly the same thing to your insulin levels. And filling your intestines with endless fiber from all the raw fruits and veggies is crazy: all it does is ferment and feed all the other organisms in your gut. A little is fine once a day, but more that that is just going to turn you into a compost factory. What’s so healthy about that? Nothing. Remember: almost all of the volume of your poop is not even from your food, but all the waste from all the organisms in your GI-track that ate the remains of your food your body didn’t digest. Eat all those carbs and all you are doing is feeding the organisms, not yourself. Good luck with that.
    (As I sit here and finish my rack of ribs with extra butter and a few HIGHLY cooked veggies so that the fiber is already broken open for my body to get the nutrients from.)

  7. Peter says:

    Orthodox Monks on the Holy Mount (Mount Athos) consume a plant based diet with the exception of fish on special occasions. They spend most of their time praying and very little time sleeping, and in spite of the practice, they achieve 90+ years, and there are even some centenarians. They have basically no heart disease, cancer or any other disease prevalent in the Western society. They eat two meals per day and spend most of their time on feet, in other words, they rarely rest by sitting or laying.
    Seventh Day Adventists are the other religious group that also has a very high life expectancy along with very little disease. 30% of the members are vegetarian, and they live longer than their meat-eating counterparts. They are the longest living people along with Okinawans.
    Evidence is clear, if a plant based diet wasn’t healthy enough, none of these groups would have a single old and healthy individual, not to mention all or most of their members.
    Faith and a plant based diet. That is the key in my opinion.

  8. Selina says:

    Yes, I have to agree with Margaret, SUGAR is a real culprit. It is everywhere in Thai foods also. No wonder they have skin problems.
    It’s too bad, their foods would be super healthy if not for all the sugar and deep fried stuff.

  9. Kathleen says:

    I agree with Ryan–and I first learned of the Hunza in 1970, which is what turned me on to plain yogurt and, to my palate, it tastes far better than any sweetened ones, yuck! That said, my grandfather lived to 104, my grandmother to 98, and my mom to 92–but each, gradually, added processed foods to their diet, decreased their exercise, and contracted “modern” diseases. Therefore, I think one must do the best they can–what I do is drink loads of green juices, eat mostly veggies and fruit, and exercise daily. It’s still kind of a crapshoot, though, as I’ve nearly been plowed down by drivers while crossing the street many times!

    My best suggestion is to eat what you love–providing you remain healthy and active, and feel wonderful! I started eating more healthfully in my 20’s, but it’s never too late! And, just my opinion, splurging on something less healthy if it soothes your soul is OK. If your body doesn’t agree, it will tell you!

  10. David says:

    One of the best researchers of traditional diets was Weston A Price. As a dentist he wanted to find out why people were getting so many cavities.

    He studied countries like Switzerland, and many others, comparing the diets of the people living a more isolated traditional diet compared with marts of a country which became modernized and ate more processed food.

    He found that those towns and cities that ate a wholesome wholefood diet had hardly any dental or health problems. He found in land healthy peoples ate mostly raw fresh diary with some meat and coastal peoples subsisted on mostly fresh fish with some diary and eggs too.

    Based on his extensive research, the diet he advocated included diary, eggs and some meat, mostly organ meats as these parts are mopre nutritious.

    His book called nutrition and its degeneration is available for free reading on the internet.

    Once you read it, you will understand why the french diet of butter and meat is not as bad as you would think.

  11. Frederic Patenaude says:

    Unfortunately the the longevity of the Hunzas was never proved. I have a friend who visited the area maybe a decade ago and the lifestyle has dramatically changed. In my article I wanted to cover only the major cultures of the world.

  12. Frederic Patenaude says:

    They are still the longest-lived people so maybe sugar is not as evil as we think? In my experience sugar is terrible on a sedentary lifestyle. But doing some vigorous exercise every day, sugar gets utilized by the body and doesn’t create health problems. Sugar combined with high fat diets is also a recipe for disaster.

  13. Frederic Patenaude says:

    I focused on the “traditional” elements of the different cultures, knowing very well that the lifestyle has changed a lot in recent years! I am talking about older generations.

  14. Frederic Patenaude says:

    It’s true that many Thai people are overweight. But if you go to more rural areas I would say the Thais are traditionally very lean. When I was staying in Chiang Mai I found most people were very lean compared to North America.

  15. Frederic Patenaude says:

    Traditionally all of the longest lived civilizations and cultures of the world eat some form of carb. We have different opinions but my research leads me to believe that a higher-carb diet, when combined to relatively lower levels of fat, does not cause diabetes. On the contrary, it heals it.

  16. Mindy says:

    what most people do not know about the Japanese diet and what you are calling “sugar,” is actually not what you think. Years ago when stevia started to get popular after it had been used in South America for a very long time, I believe 1,000 years or so, now, Japan got wind of it in the last 50 plus years and started to put it in their food. They never called it stevia maybe because of government rules and regulations, but once it was introduced in the USA, word got out about it. If you want to see more info, then check out my video on Sugar at my youtube channel called TheRawsomeVeganGal and I have other videos with great information for FREE!

    Thanks, Frederic for all you do 😉

  17. Aila Noake says:

    My conclusion of all of what I have read above is that if we are wise we do not need to dispute anything, just take the best of everything, of every country, every civilization and apply it to our own way of living and eating Right NOW.

    Regardless of what everyone else around us does, we CAN choose to eat healthy, there is also plenty of information available about what we should definitely NOT eat and drink. All the modern inventions of companies that make big money with their products which are called food and are totally void of any nutrients reducing the effect of any good foods that we are consuming. Including some of the drinks which have been on the market for decades now, that have become the only drink some people ever drink harming their health in multiple ways.

    I’m sorry, but I think ignorance is the main culprit for the massive health problems in countries like the US. We have all the gadgets to provide us with every possible information in the world but if we are not interested enough on such an important subject as our HEALTH, and choose not to pay attention to it, it is our own fault to be overweight, diabetic or have some other very serious condition.

    However, to sound even more mean, I regret that the people who do look for and read on how to help yourself to remain healthy, regardless of your age, suffer because they are the ones to pay more for health insurance and other health care costs that have skyrocketed due to so much illness caused by reckless and ignorant people whose only guide for what they consume daily is: It’s easy, its fast, it’s sweet, it’s such a pretty color and they claim on the packaging that it’s healthy. Please, wise up people if not for your own sake, at least for your children’s!

  18. Margaret says:

    I think it is very interesting when people on the North American continent look at other cultures and decide that their food is healthier. I wonder what criteria these people use to decide that the food which people in other cultures consume is so much healthier than what we folks eat in North America (I am saying America and Canada.)
    I am a nutritionist, and I also teach English to foreigners. Teaching English to foreigners, I get to see a lot of foreigners from many different countries and cultures.
    I also have a weakness for foreign food, and a sensitivity to sugar, which manifests itself rather quickly.
    JAPANESE FOOD- most people look at Japanese food and see the visible parts – vegetables and fish, mostly. They don’t stop to ask what goes into the preparation of the food. It happens that the Japanese have a very high rate of diabetes because Japanese food almost always includes sugar (How do I know this? I had a Japanese room-mate who wrote a book about diabetes. I saw the book, but I couldn’t read it, of course – by the format, it looked like a “For Dummies” book). Sugar is such a popular ingredient in Japanese cooking that it is called “mother’s taste” in Japanese. Possibly even more than Westerners, most Japanese people depend on packaged products when they are cooking. One of the most popular products, furikake (a flavorful mix to add to rice) lists sugar as the primary ingredient. Any Japanese “sauce” or flavoring package, or prepared food contains ample amounts of sugar. Japanese food in a restaurant “looks” healthy (lots of vegetables), but is laden with sugar. Contrary to what Frederic says, the Japanese do not have any better health than any other population (at least, not if the number of self-help books about health issues – may written by that former room-mate I mentioned—are any indication.)
    CHINESE FOOD – In the 1800s, and until opium was outlawed in China, restaurants put minute amounts of opium in the food they served, in order to enhance the taste. Once opium was outlawed, restaurants, and everyone else, went to adding sugar to addict people to their food. Just going on a Chinese cooking course I took at the China Institute in New York City, sugar is a main ingredient in Chinese cooking (we started every creation with a bowl of sugar, a bowl of soy sauce, and a bowl of oil). Learn the Chinese word for sugar and then wander the aisles of a Chinese supermarket – any prepared mix (and Chinese use them as much as anyone else, will list sugar among the first ingredients).
    KOREAN FOOD – I love spicy food, so I was immediately attracted to Korean food. Not satisfied with just eating in restaurants, I wanted to make my own dishes at home, so I got a Korean recipe book. Guess what? The vast majority of recipes call for sugar. “Nuff said.” I experiment from time to time with adding dates, but it is hard to get the Korean taste without good old poison, uh, I mean, sugar.
    THAI FOOD – Get yourself a Thai food cookbook. Sugar, sugar, and sugar. I found out when I tried to cook Thai food based on what I had seen and/or eaten – the taste didn’t come out right, because I didn’t add sugar. Even if you get Thai recipes from raw chefs, they require some form of sweetener.
    INDIAN FOOD – Some Indian food does not include sweeteners, but most recipes do. Sugar enhances curry flavor, among other things.
    The fact of the matter is, I believe, that, at least in America, we find something going wrong and we assume it is only us, and we shout about it, scream about it, and look for something, anything, in another place that “looks” good. We don’t really investigate. We decide that we are wrong and the other people must be doing things better. They say they are doing better, at least. The fact is, many people in other countries prefer not to speak of what they might be doing that might be considered less than perfect. Japanese say they eat raw food because they eat sushi (never mind that almost every other Japanese dish is cooked and contains sugar). Chinese people say that their food is healthier, never mind that most, if not all, Chinese dishes contain sugar. Thai people say that their food is healthy, but it contains a lot of sugar.
    We don’t look at the ingredients of the foreign dishes – we just look at what they look like. How ignorant we can be.
    Other countries also don’t report crimes the way we do. They don’t report human rights violations as we do (i.e., crimes against homosexuals, against women, against the disabled, against the aged, etc). We tend to think, on this side of the oceans, that they aren’t saying anything because those things don’t happen, but they do. If they are not talking about food issues, it is because they have not come to that place, and/or they want to hide what they actually do. Case in point: murders happen in other countries. In certain countries, the disabled are actively encouraged to stay indoors where no one can see them, and there are no accommodations for them in public places. In most countries, still, gay people are discriminated against. Many countries claim that their food is healthier than any other kind of food, when, upon investigation, we find that it is just as unhealthy as the food from any other country.
    I have intimate knowledge here. When my students graduate, we have a food party after their final exam. This party is like a potluck or “covered dish” event. The students must bring a lunch or dinner food from their country, to share with everyone. They must also be able to tell the ingredients, right down to spices, herbs, salt, pepper, sugar, etc. Desserts, Cakes, Cookies, Candy, Ice Cream, Chips, etc has sugar, the sauce for okonomiyaki has sugar, mole has sugar, and on and on)
    As a result, I am very tired of hearing the British, Americans, Canadians, and Australians praising the exotic food of other countries as healthier. This is pure ignorance. People are people worldwide. If they can get it, they want sweet; they want fried if they know fire; they want fats/oils; they want salt. If they can get their hands on prepared foods, they want them. If they can get their hands on food mixes (sauces, seasonings, mayonnaise, mustard, kochichang, dojang, five spice mix, soy sauce, or whatever they call it), they will grab those things to avoid having to cook from scratch. Other countries have frozen foods that they can go to, just as we do. Some even have boxed, pasteurized prepared foods which can last on the shelf for years. All of these things have sugar and preservatives, which we, in the West, looking at them with our adoring eyes, conveniently ignore.

  19. Margaret says:

    Someone said earlier that we should just take the best of what we see and leave the rest. I agree 100%. No culture is immune to bad food choices. We, in North America, coming, as many of us do, from a stock which tends to heaviness (look at the Germans, the French, the English, the Scottish, from whom most of us draw our heritage. They are all stocky folk. Could be the food, but it could be genetic tendencies. Regardless, none of us, regardless of where our ancestors come from or the culture in which we grew up, have to succumb to genetic tendencies – we can watch our intake, make healthier food choices, and exercise more. I am a 60-year-old Southerner, of German/French/English/Irish/Scottish heritage, and I, as many of my fellow Southerners do, put on a lot of weight as I grew older, but I have been able to get that under control, lose 150 lbs, and keep it off for 12 years, by eating raw, and avoiding sugar (of any type) and processed foods.
    I know that, in America, we look at ourselves, because, culturally, we do that – we find a fault and kick it and kick it and kick it until it either goes away or else something else more exciting comes up. What I do find annoying is when people from other countries focus on *our* issues, rather than looking among their own populace for examples. (I went to Canada once, to Toronto, and only for two days, but came away with the impression that Canadians might want to learn the word “Canadians” to use when they are discussing weight issues in North American countries. (yes, I know that Canada has perhaps even more immigrants from foreign countries than New York City does, but the folks I saw were native English speakers)

  20. Great article Frederic Patenaude. I really like your approach of looking at the lifestyle as a whole rather than just their diet. People’s comments about how the vegetarian diet, and high carbohydrates shouldn’t work have not read enough information. Check out the study done on the principals of the Seventh-day Adventist diet/lifestyle (the link on my name should take you to a good article about it).
    http://www.oregonlive.com/living/index.ssf/2012/05/seventh-day_adventists_health.html
    http://www.naturalnews.com/022599_vegetarian_diet_cancer.html

  21. Thanks for the great article Frederic Patenaude. Another study on the aspects of a healthy diet & lifestyle checkout the study on the Seventh-day Adventist diet/lifestyle, there should be a link on my name to a good article. It shows that the vegetarian diet can improve your health and longevity of life.

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