Sushi for lunch? Linguine marinara for dinner? Or Thai red curry? In our multi-cultural world, visit any food court and in two minutes, you'll walk by Chinese, Lebanese, Japanese, Mexican, Thai and Italian outlets. They can be good or bad, depending on the chef. But if you're after healthier offerings, there are three cuisines that always get the tick of approval from nutritionists.
1. The Mediterrean way of eating
The Mediterranean Diet is every nutritionist's delight. If Greek, southern Italian or Spanish appeals, this is the way to eat. Prawns, calamari, fish, garlic, ricotta, pasta, olive oil and tomatoes give you heaps of omega-3s, antioxidants, vitamins and very little ‘bad' saturated fat.
These cuisines serve vegetables in ways that make you want to eat them. Think how the Italians charm us with char-grilled baby zucchini with olive oil and shaved parmesan.
2. Asian fare
Learn from Asian cooks the techniques of fast stir-fry cooking to retain nutrition and how to make a little meat go a long way. It's fast, flavorsome and suits our climate. Just be wary of the one black spot - their love of salty sauces like soy, fish and oyster sauce which contribute to a high sodium intake, a key food factor in high blood pressure and stomach cancer.
3. French cuisine and the French paradox
Finally we still puzzle over the French! All that cheese, butter and pastries. Could it be their love of red wine? Maybe - but there's lots of other reasons why the French enjoy the second-lowest rates of heart disease in the world (after Japan) and stay so svelte. Here's what you can learn from their culinary traditions:
- Eat small-sized portions
- Say No to fast food
- Always sit down to eat and eat a decent meal
Make fish and seafood a big part of your meals (the French rank fifth in the world for seafood consumption. Think coquilles St Jacques and fish au beurre blanc)
- Don't snack.