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Pick One: Healthy Habits Around the Globe

By Sandy Schroeder

Most of us collect health tips wherever we go. So why not pick some perfect plums from all of the healthy traditions that flourish around the globe?

Cycling as Transportation – According to, biking is the preferred way to go in the Netherlands to get to work, run errands, and squeeze in some cardio exercise.  Distances may not make biking to work feasible, but bikes can be used for neighborhood errands, and car bike racks let us bike wherever we go.

Six Hour Work Days – The Swedish understand the need for a balance between work and life. Americans often work 40-hour plus weeks. But the Swedish workday is just six hours. According to the New York Times, workers say the shorter day improves health and work quality.

The 80 Percent Rule – The people from Okinawa, Japan tend to live longer than most. They practice “hara hachi bu,” which means they eat until they are 80 percent full. We could follow their lead on fullness, increase our helpings of fruits and veggies, and eat mostly fresh, unprocessed food.

Enjoy Healthy Fats – The Mediterranean Diet in Greece focuses on monounsaturated fats, such as avocado, nut and olive oil. Researchers praise the diet for reducing blood pressure, lowering heart disease risk, and increasing longevity. Plus, it tastes great!

Leafy Greens Rule – In Nigeria, leafy greens with pungent flavors show up in popular soups providing an extra supply of antioxidants. We can try exotics, such as their bitter leaf Veronia amygdalina, or use okra, kale and spinach in our versions of nutritious green soups.

Cleanliness Is a Must - Singapore is considered one of the cleanest countries in the world.  The country takes littering seriously, eliminating the breeding grounds for germs, bacteria and rodents.

Tea Please – China drinks more tea than any other country in the world.  Researchers have shown tea cuts the risk of many cancers, reduces cholesterol, and lowers the risk of stroke and neurological diseases, according to WebMD. Pick a black or green tea that pleases you and substitute an unsweetened one, when you are tempted to have a sugar-loaded soda, bottled juice or sports drink. Whatever you drink, check the labels to avoid heavily sweetened ones.

Sprinkle On Some Health – India is known for turmeric, ginger and coriander spice dishes, full of flavor and anti-inflammatory properties that boost health. If you are new to Indian food, pick a local restaurant to sample the choices.

Why not pick one, then try another?  All of these healthy habits offer a bunch of built-in health boosts.


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