Published on February 28, 2019

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Photography by Anna Kocharian

Four of the top five healthiest countries in the world are in Europe. Coincidence? We think not: A new report from Bloomberg ranks the world’s countries according to overall health, and the top five spots seem to have a lot in common. Released this week, the 2019 Bloomberg Healthiest Country Index lists Spain as the number one healthiest country in the world. We’re taking this as a sign to start eating more paella, stat.

The index graded the world’s nations based on everything from life expectancy to clean water availability and tobacco usage. Here are the countries that made the top five:

  1. Spain
  2. Italy
  3. Iceland
  4. Japan
  5. Switzerland

It’s worth noting that the United States dropped down one spot from the last report, weighing in at #35. Bloomberg attributes this decrease to factors like a lower life expectancy and a lower emphasis on preventative health care. That said, the US does have its fair share of healthy cities—any wellness-conscious people planning a move in the next year may want to check them out.

While the majority of the report’s methodology seems focused on external or environmental factors—which are largely out of the average person’s control—there is one section where individuals have some say. Bloomberg specifically calls out eating habits as a big variable in determining what makes a “healthy” country. The fact that both Spain and Italy, number one and number two respectively, follow the Mediterranean diet is quite the endorsement for this lifestyle.

Even non-Mediterranean natives have known for a while that the Mediterranean diet has serious health benefits. A December 2018 study published in JAMA Network Open found that women who followed the diet saw a 25 percent risk reduction for cardiovascular disease. The emphasis on fresh ingredients and allowance for things like whole grains, cheese, and red wine also makes this a far more sustainable “diet” than most. It’s not a trendy fad, it’s a lifestyle people in the Mediterranean region have adhered to for eons. Plus, it actually tastes good, so bring on the paella.

If you’re looking to incorporate a bit more of the Mediterranean diet into your weekly meal schedule, these healthy recipes are a delicious way to start. Indulgent and filling while still being healthy, they’re sure to become mainstays in your culinary repertoire.

Salmorejo

The heartier version of gazpacho, this creamy tomato soup is served chilled. With a minimal ingredient list, you can whip it up at a moment’s notice—you probably have everything already in your pantry. As we approach warmer weather, this is a great dish to prep ahead and have on-hand for quick weeknight dinners.

Yemista

Yemista are staples in any Greek home. They belong to a category of food called “Lathera,” usually vegetarian dishes prepared with olive oil as the only fat. Yemista are oven-roasted tomatoes and peppers stuffed with spice-infused rice, for a veggie version, or ground beef, for a more robust meal. This healthy dish is perfect for a weekend meal. If you make a full pan, you’ll have enough to reheat in the oven for a couple of days to come.

Tricolore Salad With Grapefruit Saba Vinaigrette

When you want something lighter, try this refreshing salad. It feels more elegant than your average mix of greens and is pretty easy to make. Plus, it includes cheese as a mandatory ingredient. Count us in.

See more health news:
Growing Up Around Nature Can Lead to Better Mental Health, Study Says
Calling It: This Brain-Boosting Herb Will Be 2019’s Top Wellness Trend
IKEA’s Gunrid Curtain Will Purify the Air in Your Home

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