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Recent research has shown that some of the healthiest countries in the world share a few things in common: eating small portion of seasonal and locally-produced foods, without adding too much salt, sugar or artificial ingredients. Nutritional therapist and personal trainer Bernard McGowan, has a strong interest in this topic, focusing on how food affects both mental and physical health and wellbeing.

Surprisingly to some, the countries with the healthiest populations also have some of the most delicious food in the world; from Greece and Spain to Japan and India, there is a huge variety of beautiful, health-giving foods to enjoy. The Mediterranean diet focuses on an abundance of vegetables, fruits, whole grains, olive oil and nuts, with only small amounts of fish and poultry and very minimal use of red meat, sugar and salt.

The Greek diet is a fantastic example of the Mediterranean lifestyle, as their cuisine includes many delicious – and nutritionally excellent – dishes such as hummus, a dip made of chickpeas and olive oil; melitzanosalata, a salad of aubergines; and dolmades, grape vine leaves that are stuffed with rice and vegetables.

Equally, Spanish food is both tasty and healthy – with a high fibre, low fat diet that includes many beans, vegetables, fish and crustaceans – topped with plenty of good quality olive oil. The traditional Spanish diet combines omega-3s with carbohydrates, which is an excellent blend for weight loss, and their smaller portions also attribute to their health benefits.

Indian food in its most authentic form is incredibly healthy and nutritionally dense. The spices that are used throughout Indian cuisine are tasty, as well as being high in amino acids and nutrients, offering health benefits such as better control over blood sugar levels, reduced inflammation and digestive improvements.

Israeli food has a strong focus on salads, which are packed with herbs and spices and topped with plenty of olive oil, legumes and tahini – adding further nutritional benefits to their meals. Israeli food tends to have high levels of minerals and vitamins, and some of their most delicious recipes include falafel, shawarma and shakshouka.

Japanese food is some of the best in the world; it focuses on lighter food items, such as broths, rice, noodles, vegetables and fish. Keen on fermented foods, Japanese people eat very few refined sugars or processed foods, making Japan one of the healthiest cultures in the world.