Tuesday, December 22, 2009

taste the rainbow

"See ya in 2010!" The last words I said to my boss before leaving work yesterday. I truly cannot believe how quickly time passes. This is the year when the educational structure ends, when I graduate from college, when I become a real person, when the rest of my life begins... and despite how terrifying that may seem I think I will be, dare I say it, ready. In the past year and a half I've lived in four different homes, learned to speak two languages other than English, and have certainly had my fair share of challenges. How tough could it really be? ;) 
On the food front, I recently stumbled upon "the Top 10 Food Trend for 2010" courtesy of  the Food Channel. Out of the ten, it was only two that really stood out to me, but I think they're worth mentioning. The first is our countries' new focus from processed to real, "It is about pure, simple, clean and sustainable." I'm sure we all hope this one truly catches on, it's about time!
The second is redefining American food, because when it comes down to it, it is an exquisite cuisine in and of itself. "This is all about flavor delivery. Immigration has come to the plate, and we are now defining a new Global Flavor Curve. Part comfort, part creativity, the latest flavors are coming from the great American melting pot." I'm such a sucker for representation of diversity.
And with that in mind, a few months ago, a particular article from Women's Health sparked my interest, Healthy Lifestyles from Around the World. I found it fascinating, not just because it was written by my very own editor at the Lost Girls, Holly Corbett, nor based on the fact that it has half of my blog name in it's title (haha), but because it accomplishes exactly what I've been trying do all along: define the secrets of the world's healthiest women.
According to their findings women live the longest primarily in Japan, then Monaco, Andorra, Australia, and Spain. "At least 40 percent of the Japanese population eats miso soup made from soybeans for breakfast every day," says Letha Hadady, a leading expert on Asian herbal medicine and the author of Feed Your TigerWith the soy controversy in mind, WH suggests sticking, to natural Japanese staples such as edamame and miso. They also attribute grean tea (More than half the population drinks it every day) as experts believe that its high levels of catechins—a powerful disease-fighting antioxidant—can destroy abnormal cancer cells and lower cholesterol.
It is in Kirbati, France, Japan, Monaco, and South Korea where women have the lowest rate of heart attacks. For the French this may be related to the glass of wine that they sip daily; moderate drinkers (one glass per day for women) slash their risk of heart disease by up to 40 percent, according to the Harvard School of Public Health. And from South Korea, WH notes kimchi, specifically the raw garlic in it, thanks to an enzyme in the garlic that prevents cholesterol from sticking to artery walls. Heating weakens its effects, however, and it's released only when the cloves are finely chopped or crushed.
Moreover, women maintain the lowest healthy weights in Japan, Norway, Switzerland, Italy, and Denmark. How? Perhaps we should adopt Italian's afternoon naps. Melissa Kelly, author of Mediterranean Women Stay Slim, Too says, "Siestas help boost your energy, so you don't need a sugary pick-me-up snack in the afternoon." Studies also link too little sleep to increased production of the hormone ghrelin, which makes you crave comfort foods. And when we're not sleeping... walk like the Swiss. They make almost 30 percent of their trips on foot, 10 percent by bike, and just 38 percent by car. Compare that with how Americans get around: 1 percent by hoofing it, 9 percent on two wheels, 84 percent by car.
Colon cancer is a rarity among women in Senegal, Gambia, Fiji, Guinea, and Cameroon. Daphne Miller, M.D., author of The Jungle Effect: A Doctor Discovers the Healthiest Diets from Around the World,  found that most Cameroonian dishes call for folate-rich wild greens, which may slash colon cancer risk by 60 percent. Furthermore, "Fermented foods are diet staples throughout West Africa, and they're packed with probiotics, which maintain colon-protecting bacteria in the gut and may ward off cancer," Miller says.
And finally, last, but certainly not least, lies "the answer" to happiness. It is in Denmark, Switzerland, Austria, Iceland, and the Bahamas where women are most notably happiest. Those from the land of long, dark winters, Iceland, can attribute their low rates of SAD to the hefty 225 pounds of cold-water fish per person per year. Omega-3s are no doubt powerful enough to "reduce your risk of depression by 50 percent." says Miller.
From the top dogs in the smiles section, WH promotes finding a lust for life, not stuff (amen.) "Danish people believe that experiences, not material possessions, are what bring contentment," says Kaare Christensen, M.D., Ph.D., professor of epidemiology at the University of Southern Denmark. Research backs them up: When scientists from the University of Colorado at Boulder asked study participants about their recent big-ticket purchases, they found that people who put their dough toward an experience—such as concert tickets or a romantic dinner—were twice as likely to be happy with their purchase than those who bought material goods.
No matter where you're from, no matter where you're going, I'd like to wish you and your family a very happy & healthy holiday! P.S. Photos from yesterday, I'll drop in again before the new year :).

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