East to West diets and their benefits

Want to spice up your meals? Try a different cuisine! (Chances are it involves some chilli along the way…) Here are the pros and cons of different types of food, from East to West. Our favourite? Mexican, for sure… delicious and (most of the time) nutritious.

Mediterranean

Positives

The Mediterranean diet is primarily great for heart health. It is based on eating mainly plant-based foods (i.e. lots of fruit and veg, grains, nuts) with a small amount of fish and white meat. Red meat is usually limited to a couple of times a month. The Mediterranean diet also uses healthy fats to cook with, such as olive oil, rather than butter. This helps increase good cholesterol in your blood, reducing the bad cholesterol. It generally uses a lot of spices and herbs to season instead of salt, too.

Negatives

Cheese and yoghurt is also a large part of the Mediterranean diet – if you’re looking to improve your heart/ blood health, we’d recommend giving these a miss. Enjoy the other deliciously healthy parts of the Med diet!

Japanese

Positives

The Japanese diet is particularly beneficial if you’re looking to lose weight. It consists of high quantities of vegetables and legume – from land and sea! These are low in calories, full of fibre and minerals. The Japanese get most of their protein from seafood, which lowers bad cholesterol levels and is high in healthy fats. The raw aspect of the Japanese cuisine (such as sushi) is also healthy as it preserves much of the goodness in foods – when you cook vegetables, some of their nutrients dies so raw = good! (depending on the vegetable…)

Negatives

While Japanese food is generally healthy, there are some downsides to it. The carbohydrates featured in the diet is mainly refined, simple carbohydrates. These are in the form of white rice and dolour. Japanese food is also usually high in salt. Some salty options include soy sauce, pickled vegetables, katsu sauce and many more. Although sushi is often healthy, battered food is also on the scene: tempura, fried chicken, etc. This is high in saturated fats and simple carbs so is not healthy!

West African

Positives

The  traditional West African diet is great for overall health. High in fibre,the diet helps control weight and reduces the risk of high cholesterol levels. The fibre comes from lots of fruit and veg, legumes, barley and cereals. The African diet is also low in sodium. This is because the foods are rarely processed and salt is barely used to season. The cuisine is low in fat because it incorporates more starches, fruit and veg – meat is not eaten as often as in a Western diet and is cooked with more traditional methods rather than frying. Finally, the African farming method is largely organic meaning there are less pesticides in produce. Of course, to adopt this in the Western diet, buy organic fruit and veg!

Negatives

There are little negatives to the West African diet – in fact, it’s hard to think of any! If looking to adopt this diet, make sure you also incorporate foods containing fatty acids – these are not as common among the African diet.

French

Positives

The health and wellbeing movement is not as prevalent in France as it is in countries like the UK or US. Yet, the French have one of the lowest rates of heart health problems. How can this be? Well, seeing as the diet includes lots of bread and cheese, the French tend to stick to smaller portions. They consume smaller amounts of denser, fattier foods, as well as a lot of fresh fruit and veg.

Negatives

While it may be a good way to control your weight and cholesterol levels, eating small amounts of this kind of food is not actually that healthy. We still need complex carbs, lean protein and lots of fibre. Unfortunately, bread, croissants, cheese and duck don’t fit into this category! If we were to take one thing from the French diet, it’s eat what you love but in small quantities if it’s not good for you.

Chinese

Positives

The goodness of the Chinese cuisine comes from the traditional ingredients they use. In ancient times, the Chinese were very forward thinking about the food they eat and how it might affect their health. Classic examples of healthy Chinese ingredients are ginger, mushrooms, seaweed, sesame seeds and bok choy. Traditional Chinese dishes are prepared in a healthy way with a lot of steamed methods. However, it is modern Chinese adaptations which are not so healthy…

Negatives

A Chinese takeaway is not the epitome of health. It usually consists of fried dishes containing a lot of refined sugar. Unfortunately, this isn’t how the Chinese traditionally prepared their food. Cooking your own Chinese is a good way to get all the goodness from the ingredients, without ruining it with additives and unhealthy frying! Traditional, ancient recipes are the best ones to follow in terms of healthiness.

Mexican

Positives

Beans are a staple of the Mexican diet. Full of protein, fibre and iron but low in fat, they are so healthy for you! Mexican seasoning involves cumin which is high in antioxidants, calcium, iron and magnesium. This makes it delicious and great for your health. Traditionally, Mexican dishes use a wide range of colourful veg, especially some of our favourites like avocados and tomatoes. This means you’ll get a wide range of nutrients from a Mexican dish… what more could you want?

Negatives

While homemade burritos, salsa and guacamole made with whole ingredients can be very healthy options, some Mexican dishes are not so health friendly. Fried quesadillas, enchiladas and tacos are usually high in saturated fat and often contain large quantities of cheese. To get around this, make your own. This way, you can adapt it to be slightly more healthy while having a delicious meal, too.

Hey Hey! I’m Katie ~ the Content Editor here at Zaggora. I work with our incredible team to research health and fitness trends and working with our amazing experts and contributors. I have a passion for creative writing, going to the gym and doing home-based workouts. I also love hunting down the latest coffee houses!