Italy is Healthiest Country in the World

Why did Italy rank number one healthiest country in the world according to Bloomberg Global Health Index?

Myconian Market and Italians

I spent a couple weeks on the island of Mykonos this past summer—a favorite gateway for many Italian tourists.

Nearby the airport there’s a supermarket called Flora, described as minimalist in decoration, with DJ’s spinning live music with fresh, organic produce surrounding the booth.  Imagine a Whole Foods market meets the beach club by day.

This market has an eclectic mix of shoppers such as the chefs who work on mega yachts, local business owners, Greek reality TV stars, and just about any other tourist looking for organic products! So what does this have to do with Italians ranking number one country in Bloomberg’s Health Index?

Italian Guys Love Seasonal Produce

I overheard a group of Italians–most of which were men in their late 20’s– say “grab some pears”, while the rest were headed over to the eggs and yogurt section.  I did not see any processed foods in their carts that were mainly filled with traditional Italian staples like fruits and vegetables; cheeses; yogurts; pasta and canned tomatoes.

For years, most Italians have been known to travel healthfully, mimicking their dietary patterns as they do back at home. They often look for hotel rooms that have kitchenettes to make breakfast and lunch—no matter what their age. Of course, they go out and dine, but like me, they share a love of making simple, healthy meals at home and while traveling. This is a common practice of the Italians who come to Greece for vacation.  Italy ranking number one on this health index is absolutely no coincidence.

The Italians appreciate the simplicity and quality of healthy food. They are taught at a very young age the valuable lessons of eating light and healthfully.

There’s also a strong appreciation of ingredients according to the season.

Four Countries, Four Ways

I love the results of this health index because in the top 20 are the four countries of Italy, France, Greece, and Spain  [Spain is No. 6, France is number 14, and Greece is number 20..].  I selected these four countries in Wild Mediterranean as a representation of the interchangeable recipes called “Four Countries, Four Ways” which means that you can braise meats like Italian-style with espresso and rosemary, Spanish with a delicate blend of smoked paprika and other spices, Greek with lemon and oregano, and French with lemon zest and Herbes de Provence.

These four countries all share the dietary success of mounds and mounds of plants consumed with olive oil, lean meats, and fish in their diet.

Cheers, Italy, I will celebrate your win as healthiest country with a seafood risotto, braised artichokes, and a glass of Gavi di Gavi!