Come on, how many times can you eat steamed vegetables with grilled chicken breast? Sure, it’s a good way to get a shot of protein in a nutritious, low-fat meal, but it can also get old quickly. When you’re ready to spice up your eating options, try thinking outside the borders and choosing something a bit more ethnic. Along with adding some variety to your mainstay meals, ethnic foods can offer other significant benefits—like keeping you from dropping dead prematurely. It’s no mystery why people in Japan have the longest life expectancy—they eat tons of low-fat, low-cholesterol foods like fish, tofu, Soba noodles and seaweed. Similarly, those living in the Mediterranean region also have better odds of going the distance thanks to their diet of fresh fruits, vegetables, fish and heart healthy olive oil. Traditional Indian and Thai foods use a combination of spices with powerful anti-cancer properties, while Italian dishes serve up healthy amounts of lycopene-loaded tomato sauces that decrease the risk of prostate cancer and increase sperm count. Who knew a little marinara could be so beneficial down there? Here are some other ethnic foods that can help add years to your life, and diversity to your dining experiences.
Sushi or Sashimi
If you’re a fan of sushi, you’re in luck. Made of lean fish and steamed rice, sushi offers a good balance of protein and carbohydrates. Throw some avocado into the mix and you'll get a good source of healthy fat as well. Sashimi is another top choice with the same benefits as sushi, only without the high-carb rice. Since mercury remains a concern, it’s probably wise to limit the amount of sushi you eat to twice a week. Fish that contain high levels of mercury include bigeye tuna, king mackerel, tilefish and swordfish. Avoid rolls altogether (many of them don't even contain fish).
Cooked on long skewers inside a cylindrical clay oven called a tandoor and marinated in a blend of spices, yogurt and lemon juice, this low-fat, protein-rich dish is a great way to give new legs to those tired, old chicken breast meals. Just don’t screw up a good thing by getting a side of high-carb, high-calorie rice called Biryani or loading up on too much Naan.
With a bounty of nutritious vegetables, this popular pasta dish serves up a healthy dose of antioxidants. Plus, the fresh garlic helps to prevent blood clots, lower blood pressure and reduce cholesterol and triglyceride levels. Be sure to go without the fat-packed, cream sauces sometimes used with this dish and opt for those that are tomato-based and loaded with cancer-fighting lycopene.