Hey Green Team,
August has arrived! Many of you have travelled or have planned adventures around the world. It is so much fun to learn about different cultures and if you are anything like me, you’ll also love enjoying various food cultures.
Did you know that currently Trinidad is ranked number 88 in regards to the healthiest countries in the world? When learning some more on the healthiest countries in the world I figured it would be great to see how our beloved island can make a strong come back.
Let us explore what some of the healthiest countries on the top rank by Bloomberg and see if there are any patterns that we can adopt.
Italy marks its high health ranking based upon their use for whole, fresh and real ingredients inclusive of olive oil and market fresh fruits and veggies. The food culture revolves around combining social gatherings to shared food preparations. There is a lot of love to give and locals enjoy giving lots of hugs and kisses. Hugs are so powerful, I surely love a warm hugging embrace. Hooray to more hugs! Similar to the Mediterranean diet principles of including olive oil, antioxidant rich foods like spices such as ginger and turmeric, garlic, unrefined grains, beans, seafood, leafy greens and nuts.
Singapore takes pride in their local availability and aim to choose nutrient dense foods over high saturated fats, salt and high sugar choices. The people of Singapore maintain consistent movement by walking, jogging and Tai Chi. Their diet contains a balance of lean meats, grains, fruits such as rambutan, coconuts, lychee and vegetables such as sprouts, chives. This culture uses an abundance of anti inflammatory spices such as ginger, chilies and white peppers in dishes such as vermicelli, rice porridge, fish head curry and grilled stingray.
Combined with strict laws on imported foods as well as following a traditional diet, Asians on a whole use a great practice of eating until 80 % full and include seaweed, fermented foods for high nutrition and green tea in their diets which is the healthiest drink in the world.
ICELAND, AUSTRALIA, SWEDEN
These countries travel further to get food at the markets or engage in regular exercise and yoga. Given their clean mountain fresh air and healthy food relationships they nations make it clear that food is to be enjoyed and not shovelled in. Our habits are what shape us and cultivating healthy eating habits is key. Balance to these nations means mostly enjoying foods made from fresh produce while indulging in a drive through or ice cream much less often. It only becomes an issue for our health when the habits we are supposed take part in time to time become a daily indulgence. The dietary habits within these countries revolves around positive food experience and using whole foods similarly to the Mediterranean dietary practices.
WHAT DO WE KNOW ABOUT TRINIDAD’S TRADITIONAL DIET?
The traditional diet in Trinidad and the Caribbean include a variety of leafy greens like Callaloo which is similar in nutrient density to that of kale and spinach.
Less red meat was on the traditional menu and when it did appear would often include some goat meat which is lower in saturated fat and calories in comparison to other sources of red meats. The local diet included a balance of seafood from local sources including red snapper, shrimp, mahi mahi as a preferred protein by which a recommended healthy intake of fish is 2-3 servings of 3.5 oz on a weekly basis. Highly known to the Caribbean, its spices such as curry powder, cinnamon, ginger, allspice, annatto seeds as well as seasonings such as chadon beni, parsley, chives and hot peppers which are more used for flavor instead of high salt additives for an incredible flavor profile.
We also enjoy locally grown sweet potatoes, okra, breadfruit, guava, papaya, coconut, mangoes, plantains, and dasheen. Most of the Caribbean diet is supplied by plant rich proteins such as beans, legumes like chickpeas, lentils, black eyed peas, kidney, lima, red and black beans. When paired with rice like a typical vegetarian Palau or red beans and bhagi rice combo it makes up a complete protein.
Given these healthy trends for the healthiest nations some simple steps to start practicing today would be to enjoy mealtimes and eat until 80 percent full. Make nourishment a social, loving and sharing environment. Get outside for walks daily whether it be to the market or around the block. Raise activity levels by taking the stairs more or try a yoga class weekly. Nourish with a rainbow selection of fresh fruits and vegetables and include ingredients like high quality fish, olive oil, seeds and legumes more regularly than convenience drive through and junk foods.
In conclusion getting closer to our Caribbean roots and rebuilding a stronger and healthier relationship to our Caribbean traditional diet seems like a great place to begin thinking for us to move up the ranks. Consider frequency of the current daily food choices we make today compared to the more traditional diet trends to see where better choices can be made today.
Let us support each other in creating and sustaining a healthy and active lifestyle as a Caribbean nation.
As always Green Team, I aim to give you real and practical tips so you live a healthy and sustainable lifestyle.
I would love to hear your questions and comments, so contact me via email, Instagram, Facebook or by phone.
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Until the next issue Green Team!
Annick G. Lewis Nutritionist (BSc) & Qualified Personal Trainer
CEO & Founder Green Balance TT